Can you feel that? We’re one day away from our first Iowa football game of the season. It’s almost here. All the waiting and wondering about whether we would get a season, whether the Big Ten would join the party - it’s all over. One last night of sleep before we are back in black (or white, since you know, it’s a road game).
With kickoff just a day away, the staff is diving into their individual predictions. Vegas (or Riverside, IA) is calling for the Hawkeyes to win and had them as 3.5 point favorites to start the week. They had the over/under at 54.5 points. So, do we think Iowa can cover? Are we on the over or under?
We’re a bit split, as you might imagine. After all, the point of a game line is to get even action on both sides. As a staff, 6 of us are taking Purdue with the points while 2 are on the Hawkeyes to cover. On average, we’re calling for Iowa to win by 3 points, just inside the hallmark Vegas hook, with an average score of Iowa 30, Purdue 27. That’s a total of 57 points, which would comfortably hit on the over. Individually, 6 of us are on the over as well while 2 think this is more of a slugfest. Not a one of us is calling for Iowa to lose (though JP will cop to calling for it in our season long predictions as a surprise loss, before we knew the Boilermakers would be without Jeff Brohm and 5-6 players)
Here’s a look at how each BHGP staffer expects Iowa’s first game of 2020 to shake out.
This is probably going to be the hardest game of the year to predict because we have absolutely no intel coming in. We expect Iowa’s offense to be improved with four top returning WRs and a dynamic back in Tyler Goodson. The OL should be very good and despite being new, the QB is ticketed as the real deal. But how much will this defense miss the likes of AJ Epenesa, Geno Stone, Kristian Welch and Michael Ojemudia?
On the other side, what is the impact of Jeff Brohm being away from the team all week with COVID-19? How much will it hurt them to have had limited practices and Rondale Moore opted out for a period of time? So. Many. Questions.
I think Iowa has the slight edge here, but at -3.5 I’m not expecting them to cover (and candidly, pre-Brohm news I was on Purdue). That said, the only thing I feel confident in is this being closer to the shootout we saw in 2018 than your traditional Iowa game. I think Rondale Moore presents a real challenge for Iowa’s defense, which is going to have some growing pains as it replaces major pieces, especially with limited practice actually tackling. But can Purdue actually stop Iowa? I’m hoping not.
Iowa 38, Purdue 35
I’m not buying this game being played until it starts. Heck, I can see them pulling the teams off the field mid-game. The year 2020 wouldn’t be what it is without Jeff Brohm getting The Covid. I think this has less of an outcome on the game than a star player being out. Players win games. Brohm will be able to game prep via Zoom and it will be business as usual. If he were Saban and the SEC he would have 453 more tests in the next couple of days and he’d be good to go. The game: Brohm’s Boilers are 2-1 vs Kirk Ferentz despite being 17-21 during JB’s tenure. Purdue has arguably the best two WR’s in the nation. Yikes. Would love to trot Eppy and Geno(unemployed) out there on Saturday, but alas. Purdue can’t stop the run. Iowa has an unproven commodity in Spencer Petras. If Brian Ferentz doesn’t run the ball down Purdue’s throats I will be disappointed. We have to keep the ball away from Moore and Bell. The Hawks win but won’t cover. I’m taking the under and crossing my fingers. If it hits the over, the good guys are 0-1.
Hated Purdue 24
I continue to have no idea what to think about anything pertaining to Big Ten Football this year! How is that different from any other year for me though? It’s not!
That being said, I’m going to go ahead and be positive for once in my life and declare this week a victory for Iowa. A lot of factors remain unknowns heading into the game, most notably Spencer Petras making his debut at quarterback, but I think the extended time in practice for a program like Iowa that thrives with time to develop its players gives them a slight edge over Purdue.
This game will probably be close, and it will either be extremely low scoring or extremely high scoring, and there will be no in between. I’m going to go on the low end, because I already predicted a win, we can’t have nice, exciting football games.
Iowa 10, Purdue 7
How do you predict a game with this many unknowns when you don’t really trust either defense to hold up particularly well? I’ve chosen to let history be my tie-breaker. Purdue has quietly been pretty awful at the beginning of seasons during the Jeff Brohm era:
2017= 3-5 start
2018= 0-3 start, including a home loss to ex-Hawkeye Tyler Wiegers and Eastern Michigan
2019= 1-4 start, including an embarrassing collapse against Nevada in their opener
Purdue has shown a knack for starting slow out of the gate and improving dramatically as the season progresses, but the Boilermakers will have to come out swinging against a talented Iowa team in their opener. As much as I worry about how Iowa’s back seven will match up against Purdue’s pass-catchers, I’d be more concerned about a Boilermaker team being prepared to beat the Hawkeyes after a shortened offseason, the introduction of a new defensive coordinator, and with their head coach having to miss the game.
Iowa 28, Purdue 27
I genuinely don’t know what to think with this game! Purdue has playmakers for dayz and I have no confidence in Iowa being physically ready to match their speed or size. Somehow, the same could be said for Iowa’s offense and the Boilermaker defense.
Last time these teams faced off here, Iowa let it get out of hand early, chased the points, and got burned by not converting two-point conversions. There’s no Jeff Brohm, though, and I think that is just enough to flip it in Iowa’s favor away from my preseason, and pre-COVID 19 diagnosis, pick.
But I hate that everyone (so far) has picked Iowa. Makes me skeptical. This helps, though.
Iowa 31, Purdue 30
I’ve gone back and forth on my prediction of this game. In the end, I think Iowa is the more balanced team with the most cohesion as well. I’m fully on the Petras bandwagon and think his style is perfect for this offense and the supporting cast. I’m also big on the return of Banwart at guard. I think he solidifies the interior line and gives Iowa it’s best guard since Sean Welsh.
The duo of Moore and Bell will be impossible to stop, but Iowa needs to keep their contributions to yards and not touchdowns. I’ll take my chances rolling the dice with Phil Parker on my side.
Like the start of the NFL season, I think the offenses will reign supreme, and we see a decent scoring total. I like Iowa to come out on top.
Iowa 32, Purdue 24
Predictions are always tough for the first game of the season, especially in 2020 with all of the wackiness and delays.
With that said, despite the attrition on defense for the Hawks, the Boilermakers appear to be in even bigger shambles on that side of the ball, as the break in a new defense on Saturday with underwhelming secondary pieces.
In addition, it’s no secret that even with the loss of Tristan Wirfs and Nate Stanley that this Iowa offense is loaded with talent at each position.
When you look at Purdue, the loss of Jeff Brohm as playcaller due to COVID-19 hurts, as he’s one of the best in-game playcallers the college game has to offer. In addition, the Boilermakers don’t even have a cemented starter at quarterback at the moment.
With so much dysfunction for Purdue, Iowa should be able to capitalize and win handily.
Iowa 35, Purdue 24
Alright look: I don’t care if one, or even both Brohm Brothers is/are out for this game. Frankly, I don’t care about anything going on over in the Purdue camp outside Rondale Moore’s ACL situation. Because here’s the thing:
Top to bottom, Iowa is a vastly superior team. That’s been the case the past three years we’ve played Purdue, and it’s only resulted in one win.
This year more than ever, I’m convinced that Iowa’s staggering amount of raw talent on the offensive side of the ball will not, and cannot, be ignored. The defense is full of concerns in its own right, but those concerns are still there whether or not you’re facing an all-American at wide receiver.
And so, we prepare for Purdue’s defensive coordinator—one Robert Albert Diaco—to feebly try and stop the most exciting offense Iowa’s fielded in the past quarter century.
There’s plenty of excuses for Iowa to give up 35 points in this game. But there’s no excuse it can’t score at least 36.
Iowa 41, Purdue 38
You heard it here, Hawks by a million (or actually 3, to be precise)! What say you?