We’re now just two days away from Iowa’s first game of the 2020 football season and the anticipation is certainly building. Without spring practice or fall camp, we’ve got limited information to steer our expectations for this season and each of Iowa’s opponents. That’s especially true in the season opener when the Hawkeyes will travel to our most hated rival: Purdue.
Earlier this week, we had Travis Miller of SB Nation’s Purdue site Hammer and Rails break down what to expect from the Boilermakers for the full season. Today, we’re going back to Hammer and Rails and talking to Drew Schneider about the matchup between Iowa and Purdue.
Here are five questions on Purdue in week one.
BHGP: This is setting up to be one of the wildest years of college football we’ve ever seen and it seems only fitting that in week one we have some craziness due to COVID-19. What’s the impact of Jeff Brohm being out and should Iowa fans expect any difference in play calling from Brian (Brohm)?
HnR: That’s the million dollar question, and honestly, I have no idea. The obvious issue with Jeff Brohm being out is in game coaching experience. I’m personally adverse to coordinator/head coaches because I want my offensive coordinator focusing on the offense and I want my head coach focusing on the offense, defense, and special teams. This is a huge ask for Brian Brohm. I’m sure he’ll get plenty of input from Jeff, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few hiccups.
BHGP: Over the years, a strength for Iowa has always been Phil Parker’s defense but he’s really struggled against the Boilermakers. Last year was as close as we’ve seen to him “figuring out” how to slow down Purdue and that was with Rondale Moore out. Moore is now back, but how does this year’s group compare to prior years on the offensive side of the ball overall?
HnR: Again with the tough questions. In the Brohm era, Purdue tends to have one dominant receiver that gets the majority of touches. Last year David Bell had 13 receptions for 197 yards with Rondale out of commission against the Hawkeyes. Bell and Moore didn’t get much time on the field together with Rondale going down to an injury early in the season, and Bell battling a shoulder problem early. Iowa gets the first look at the Bell/Moore receiving combination Purdue fans have been lusting over since Bell announced his commitment. I’ll be interested to see how they spread out the touches between those two while hopefully incorporating some sort of a run game. In theory, this season should be “the year” for the Purdue offense to put it all together and have a break-out year, but there are more questions than answers heading into the opener.
BHGP: This seems strange to say, but Iowa is expected to actually be good on offense this year pending potential ineptitude in play calling. The Hawkeyes boast the best WR group likely of the Ferentz era. How do you expect Purdue to try to defend Iowa this weekend?
HnR: O.K. so I might be the least helpful opposing website interview of all time, because I have no idea what new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is going to put on the field. At his last stop he played a highbred 3-4 that often times turned into a 4-3 before the snap. Diaco’s main objective this season is to limit big plays. At Louisiana Tech he played a lot of bend-don’t-break zone defense, kept the ball in front of his defenders and generated a ton of interceptions in the red zone. La Tech led the nation in red zone defense in 2019, and I think that’s what we’re going to see him attempt to replicate on Saturday, but I could be completely wrong.
BHGP: Iowa and Purdue have always hated each other, but despite that hatred we can all agree to come together in universal hatred for Ohio State. In their last meetings with the Buckeyes, both Iowa and Purdue beat Ohio State like a new drum set on Christmas morning. Which of the two beatings was more impressive and why was it Iowa’s?
HnR: Ahem, well sir, I don’t know about the rest of Purdue Football Nation, but I’m a Clemson graduate and I can 100%, unequivocally state that for a team with a nut as a mascot, the Buckeyes certainly seem to be missing theirs. I’m going to go with the Purdue win, only because that was one of those magical nights in college football with Tyler Trent looking on where the good guys somehow pulled it out. Ohio State beats Purdue 99/100 times but on that night, they couldn’t put the ball in the endzone inside the 5 yard line and forgot to read the scouting report on Rondale. Honestly, I’ll take the Iowa win as 1a because any Ohio State loss is a win for the good guys, regardless of the opponent. I might....might....even whisper “Go Blue” when Michigan pulls the upset this year.
Self Plug, but this is some of my finest work on SB Nation
BHGP: Ok, jokes aside, this is gearing up to be a wild matchup. The Hawkeyes opened at some sports books in the state of Iowa at -9.5, but lines online currently range from Iowa -3.5 to Purdue -2.5. How does this one play out and how do we make money betting on this one?
HnR: Unless you’ve got money to burn, it’s best to stick with the prop bets in this one. You’ve got decent odds on the coin toss. I think the over/under for Purdue flea flickers is set at 1.5 and you should hammer the over. I’m giving Purdue Pete solid odds in his halftime battle with Herky (had to look that one up). Other than that, the theme of his email has been “shrugs shoulders, Purdue could be good but I have no idea” and I’ll stick with that right now. If forced to bet on any of the above lines, with my life on the line, I’ll take Iowa -3.5, but my self preservation instincts are notoriously shoddy.
So there you have it, the Hawkeyes are going to cover and all’s well that ends well!
Special thanks to Drew Schneider of Hammer and Rails! Be sure to check out all the content over at HnR as kickoff approaches. They’ve got some great insights, including a game preview and more, that are worth a look.