The Hawkeyes got things back on track a week ago, but that was against jNW and only did enough to keep Iowa out of the Big Ten West cellar. Hopes for a climb higher in the West standings relies on sustained production from the offense and that seems.... unlikely.
This week, Iowa travels to West Lafeyette for a showdown with Our Most Hated Rival, Purdue, and a few familiar faces in Tyrone Tracy, Jr. and Charlie Jones. The Boilers have won four of the last five meetings against the Hawkeyes and Vegas is calling for much of the same this week. Our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook opened with this one as Purdue by a touchdown. That has since moved down to Purdue -3.5 with an over/under that continues to slide lower on an evolving weather forecast to under 40 total points.
At The Pants, we’re taking Purdue and the points. On average, we’re calling for a final score of Purdue 22, Iowa 15. That still has us on the under pretty comfortably. Notably, there are two of us taking the Hawkeyes to win outright despite none of us taking Iowa with the points.
Here’s a look at each of our individual predictions for tomorrow’s matchup.
Iowa’s offense is still largely lost. They were able to establish the run for the first time all season against Northwestern so I’d love to believe they found something there, but more realistically I expect Purdue to stack the box and force Petras to beat them, especially knowing the forecast for strong winds and rain. He can’t and I expect the offense to be lucky to get more than a touchdown this week.
On the other side of the ball, Phil is stubborn to a fault and won’t bracket Jones. I expect him to get the David Bel treatment and come away with 100+ yards and 2+ scores on his own, largely on underneath dink and dunk stuff where he breaks one tackle and moves the sticks. Being a Hawkeye fan is not very much fun right now.
Prediction: Purdue 24, Iowa 13
As you’ll see in my weather/Vegas update coming later today, the weather for this weekend looks abhorrent. Good temps, but rain and (more importantly) wind. That should slow Purdue down, but the weather will further neutralize Iowa’s poopy offense. Purdue has major injury issues in the secondary, but with big wind gusts anticipated in
East Berlin West Lafayette, Iowa’s pass game that briefly showed a pulse last week will be unable to take advantage of that.
So it will be on the run game to figure it out (for both teams) and I’m still dubious. I mean, that’s nice that the offense had a brief, one-game proof of life moment against Northwestern. I’m happy! It’s always a good day when Iowa wins! They might have a better formula on the offensive line and the running backs look good, but that Northwestern team stinks and Pat Fitzgerald should be on the hot seat with how poorly the last two years have gone - they haven’t won on the North American continent in over a year and I would expect that streak to run into next season.
So I’m not falling for this brief dalliance into competence from Iowa’s offense. In the end, Iowa probably needs 21 points to win and in those conditions, they can’t do it. This comes down to Purdue having Iowa’s number, and I think they edge Iowa in the end once again.
Prediction: Purdue 21, Iowa 17
It’s nice that Michigan and Ohio State are in our rearview mirror. The Hawks are now to the portion of their schedule where they can beat any team they play, even with our anemic offense. Unfortunately I don’t have much faith. I still feel like we need to score a defensive touchdown in order to pull off a win. With the recent bad blood in the Purdue/Hawkeye rivalry I hope our boys can go into West Lafayette and come away victorious. Phil Parker is a dang magician; I hope he has an answer for Charlie Jones because that David Bell fellow played us like a video game cheat code. Kirk and Brian better have something planned or much of our offense will be getting speed dialed this offseason by Jeff Brohm.
Prediction: Purdue 24, Iowa 13
Many Hawk fans may not admit it, but Purdue is probably one of the teams they wanted to beat the most this year. A game that for much of the 21st century was a reliable victory has turned on its head in recent years, with the Brohm Squad taking four of the last five games.
Last week’s offensive showing against Northwestern was nice, but until Iowa shows that it wasn’t a one-hit wonder I’m not getting my hopes up. Northwestern’s defense is notoriously awful, and Purdue’s isn’t the greatest either, so the opportunity for Iowa is there. With the forecast in West Lafayette looking soggy the Hawkeyes must get the ground game going and Petras must play like he did last week to stay in it.
With Purdue’s penchant for finding the soft spot in Iowa’s D and attacking it over and over, Phil Parker will need to find a way to counter, something that’s been easier said than done lately. Ideally the weather will help mitigate the threat, but the defense has to make the plays they couldn’t last year. I believe they can, but I’m not sure they will.
Prediction: Purdue 23, Iowa 14
I don’t think this team has it in them to beat anyone with any kind of talent. I just don’t. Are we due for a win against Brohm? Absolutely is it a sure thing? No. Sure, the Boilers will have some injury problems but…unless the defense can score a lot of points, I just don’t think the offense can get the job done on the road.
Honestly? I really hope Charlie Jones goes off.
Purdue 24, Iowa 10
I’ve been on forced hiatus for a few weeks here due to a combination of factors, among them being spending three weeks on the road in October, and running into a mysterious bug in my opponent-adjustment algorithm that caused it to spiral out of control. Turns out, it’s not really a bug, it was a configuration error. I had set the tolerance so tightly that the program didn’t know to stop adjusting when it reached what we’d call a local minimum in calculus. So I fixed that.
With that done, we’re 8 games into the season and I finally have good opponent-adjusted data on Iowa. And I have good news: it’s still bad, but it’s not as bad as it looks. Iowa’s opponent-adjusted offense is about as good as Iowa’s raw offense was last year. That’s still really bad, but it might be juuuuuuust good enough.
My theme this year is reversing trends. I said Iowa State would win and they did. I didn’t QUITE call the Illinois win, but I suggested that it was lurking in the shadows. And contrary to many, I picked Iowa to beat Northwestern pre-season. I also picked Iowa to beat Purdue pre-season, and, with the algorithm back on its feet, the machine agrees.
BizarroMath is calling this is a 24-21 Iowa victory, so my confidence is being bolstered by the box. But I’m calling for EVEN MOAR POINTS, as the machine has tended to under-estimate points by about 15% this year.
Prediction: Iowa 28, Purdue 24.
The entire season I have been the happy, go lucky fool trying to spread positivity with my picks. That hasn’t exactly panned out well this far but let’s try it again.
I believe the weather will have a tremendous impact on the outcome of this game. If it rains as hard as it’s suppose to, and the wind is whipping through Ross Ade Stadium, this game will be a slog. It also means boilerhawk and I will be miserable as we are both going to be in attendance. Bad weather heavily favors the Hawkeyes in my mind. If the elements keep Purdue from stretching the field vertically against Phil and the defense, the game will in essence be played within a 20 yard box. I will put my faith in this Iowa defense to feast if that is the case. Even Purdue’s new found running game should have a tough time without a passing attack to guard it.
On the flip side, Iowa’s offense will be playing in the same muck. That doesn’t bode well for a unit who has looked terrible in the best of conditions. The saving grace here is that I think Iowa battens down the hatches and plays the type of boring, safe football that is needed to win in these conditions. For this reason, I see Iowa minimizing turnovers while on the flip side, I don’t believe Purdue is patient enough to play that style of game leading to several turnovers including a few that give Iowa short fields.
If the elements don’t turn out to be bad, just disregard all of the above and Hope David Bell doesn’t go for 200+. Yes I know he is no longer at Purdue but the PTSD is still strong.
Prediction: Iowa 20, Purdue 17
It’s fitting that Iowa’s gross offense will be playing on an equally gross weather day. I do think the changes on the OL were a positive, and gives the offense a slightly better chance of protecting Petras and letting him get his feet set to deliver. The issue this week is you know he is going to be second guessing footing, grip, etc. That is not a good recipe for this offense.
With wet conditions I’m guessing we see Purdue push the ball downfield using some double moves and hoping to draw a few big pass interference penalties on a day where traditional downfield passing is more difficult. It feels like every year we go into this game thinking Purdue is missing someone really important, but in the end it doesn’t matter. David Bell isn’t there to rescue their offense this time, but Charlie Jones is.
Prediction: Purdue 20, Iowa 16
So that’s how we see things playing out. How about you, Hawkeye fans? Let’s hear those predictions for Saturday’s showdown!