It’s homecoming week in Iowa City and the Hawkeyes are preparing for their first game of the 2023 season without Cade McNamara at the helm of the offense. After McNamara tore his ACL on the second series against Michigan State a week ago, backup and former Wisconsin QB Deacon Hill stepped into the starting role and delivered a win over the Spartans in his relief effort.
Now Hill looks to get a win in his first career start. And Vegas seems to think he just might do it. Our friends over at DraftKings Sportsbook opened this one at Iowa -3.5 earlier in the week with an over/under set at 41.5 total points. Both of those numbers have drifted a bit lower, but DK still has Iowa favored by 2.5 with the over/under now at 39 total points.
Here at The Pants, we’re..... torn on just what to expect this week. It’s not just the change at QB, but the general lack of ability on offense and the recent history of Purdue going from OuR mOsT hAtEd RiVaL to “seriously, WTF guys I don’t like Purdue!”
On average, we’re calling for a final score of Iowa 20, Purdue 18. That put’s us just on the Purdue side, taking the 2.5 points from DraftKings. It also puts us just on the under (always bet the under). It’s worth noting that only two staffers have Iowa covering the 3.5 points that they were giving to start the week and nearly half of us are calling for Purdue to spoil homecoming and win in Kinnick outright.
Here’s a look at our individual predictions for this week.
I am so genuinely torn on this one. There is part of me that sees how Purdue has looked so far this year and says Iowa’s defense is poised to create 3+ turnovers and the Hawkeye running game finally figuring things out. There’s another part of me that could see the offense looking even more lost with the loss of Cade McNamara and the defense struggling to get off the field.
Ultimately, I think we see another in a string of games that are uncomfortably close for the entirety of regulation and ultimately comes down to which team makes the big play in the closing minutes. I expect Hudson Card to keep plays alive with his legs and frustrate the Iowa defense, but for Phil Parker to lock things down in the second half and the defense to come up with a big turnover. Or two. The Iowa offense I think struggles at times (shocker), but does just enough to get over the hump.
Prediction: Iowa 23, Purdue 20
Look, if Iowa’s offense was even semi-competent they’d hammer this Purdue team. Purdue gives up nearly 400 yards of offense a week. They’ve been taken to task by Fresno State and Syracuse. Of teams in the Big Ten, only Illinois has conceded more points than this Boilermaker defense. It’s not a good unit.
But this is the Iowa offense we’re talking about, Purdue’s defense blitzes from a ton of weird angles with a 5-man front and has a good sack number on the year (17), and they are coming off a confidence-building win over the Fighting Illini. Iowa’s offense has a banged up running back room (maybe; Kaleb Johnson might return this week), lost their starting quarterback for the rest of the year, lost Luke Lachey, and doesn’t seem interested in involving the wide receivers in the pass game until there is a collective freak out about lack of touches (then they drop a ton of passes when they are involved). There is no reason to believe this offense will do anything against anyone.
I want to pick Iowa - I think The Deaconator is ready to toss some bombs, a classic throwback to guys like Rex Grossman and the “F it, I’m going deep” mantra of the late 2000s - but they’re bound to lose one of these games played in the margins, where this game will largely be played. New Purdue staff, but similar results that push Iowa to the edge of West contention before Columbus/Indigenous People’s Day. Then shift your Ferentz Fatigue into overdrive when they go to Madison and lose there, too.
Prediction: Purdue 20, Iowa 17
Purdue finally seemed to figure things out on defense against Illinois, but some of this can likely be attributed to head coach Ryan Walters knowing how to attack the offense of his old team. Can Iowa’s lethargic offense manage to up its production against a Boilermaker defense that has struggled for most of the season? Don’t expect any offensive fireworks, but the Purdue may find themselves missing Jeff Brohm’s magic touch when trying to throw into the teeth of a dangerous Iowa secondary.
Prediction: Iowa 20, Purdue 17
With Cade I had us winning the West. Post Cade? Let me think... Our game next week vs Bucky is big. Really big. But it doesn’t mean much without taking care of business against the Boilers. I think we get a little bit of a running game going, and Deacon Hill and his wide receivers are on the same page. And by that, I mean they catch the freaking football. Hill does not seem to lack confidence, and Brian actually seems to have confidence in Hill. Purdue won’t kick a ball anywhere near Cooper DeJean - I don’t know why anyone would the rest of the year. Hawks will get it done. It won’t be pretty, but it never is (other than the scoreboard).
Prediction: Iowa 23 - Purdue 13
After a couple week hiatus, I’m back baby!
To celebrate, I’m heading from South Bend to Iowa City to take in the game Saturday against Purdue. I’m hoping my presence in Kinnick is just what the Hawkeyes need to beat Purdue for the second year in a row. BoilerHawk and I attended the win in West Lafayette last year, but he sadly will not be in IC this weekend. I say this only to deflect blame towards Boiler if things go south… which they may.
The problem with the game Saturday besides the fact the Hawkeye offense resembles that of a bowel movement resulting from a mix of Chipotle and P.F Chang’s, is that Purdue has the roster make up to take advantage of Iowa’s defensive scheme. Even with Jeff Brohm gone, look for Purdue to dip and dunk for 60 minutes Saturday with their intermediate passing game. For Iowa to be successful, extra corners TJ Hall and Deshawn Lee may have to be called upon and perform against arguably a top 3 quarterback in the league being Texas transfer Hudson Card.
The Hawkeyes also need to be wary of Purdue running back Devin Mockobee. If Phil Parker does throw an extra cornerback onto the field, Mockobee and this Purdue offensive line will look to take advantage. Mockobee is a great combination of vison, power, and patience to go along with some decent speed. If he can find a little space in a spread-out Hawkeye defense, Iowa is in trouble…
But that ain’t going to happen folks. I think Phil takes Mockobee out of the game and calls more blitzes than we are accustomed to seeing in order to get to Card. This MUST happen. The offense is broken, it does not need to be talked about anymore, pressure will create the turnovers this team needs to have in order to win. If Iowa can’t get pressure, Card won’t make mistakes and the turnovers won’t come. I think the Hawkeyes do just enough however and squeak out a victory on homecoming going into Maddison sitting at 5-1.
Prediction: Iowa 23, Purdue 17
The entire calculus of the season changed when Cade went down last Saturday. It feels like we’re right back before game one kicked off where we weren’t sure just what the offense was going to look like. That’s a weird feeling six weeks in. I think a fully healthy Deacon Hill can manage Iowa’s offense perfectly well, and the attempts to get the receivers the ball last week was a good sign. They just need to catch the damn thing. We just don’t know fully what we’re getting with him right now. He’s a 258 lb. question mark.
What worries me is the offensive line holding up against an unusual 5-man front and defense that boasts 17 sacks. Big Deac might have to prove he can move tomorrow to avoid pressure from the blitz. On the other side of the ball Purdue doesn’t have Jeff Brohm or a David Bell-tier receiver but I won’t be surprised if their plan of attack will be much different: find the weak spot and attack relentlessly. Iowa’s defense will need to bring pressure of their own, or the line must start getting to the QB more than they have so far this year.
Still, something is just telling me it goes wrong tomorrow. I think it’s close in the end but a couple of offensive mistakes and key plays by the Boilers put them on top.
Prediction: OMHR 21, Iowa 16
So, I watched most of the beatdown OMHR laid on Bert in West Lafayette last Saturday, and it was indeed a beating. But before I put forth a prediction I wanted to see how this Purdue offense fared against a team that wasn’t fielding the absolute worst defense in the B1G, so I went back and watched Purdue get blown out, at home, by Wisconsin. Now, Wisconsin’s offense is much, much better than what we’ve been putting on the field so far this season, but their defense is not nearly as good as Iowa’s. While it may have helped me make up my mind on who wins this Saturday, it made me really worried about our trip to Madison next Saturday.
What I saw was a fairly porous offensive line that, if they had a less mobile QB, would have given up several sacks, and a running game that can get the occasional big play, but not much in the way of explosive passing plays, and a QB that has a tendency to float passes that are more than about 20 yards downfield. Now, I don’t think that Iowa will win this game by 20+ a la Bucky, but I am more confident that our secondary can keep Purdue’s passing game in check, and that the law firm of Castro, Fisher, Higgins, and Jackson can stop Purdue’s rushing attack. We might even see the Dline get home once or twice on a pass rush.
It’ll be close, there will be many field goals, and I’d guess a fair number of points off turnovers (both teams are averaging ~2 turnovers per game), but at the end of the day, the good guys will make it two in a row against the Boilermakers.
Prediction: Iowa 23, Purdue 20
Last week gave me zero confidence in this team going forward, despite the win. The line play this year on both sides of the ball is frankly terrible and that is very worrisome to me. This Purdue team is somehow bad but also sneaky good simultaneously. I honestly don’t know what to think, but I do think it will be wonky. Somehow, Purdue gets the win in stupid fashion.
Prediction: Purdue 17, Iowa 14
So that’s how we see this one playing out. How about you, Hawkeye fans? Can Iowa come together around backup QB Deacon Hill? Or will the ghost of Jeff Brohm continue to haunt the Hawkeyes?
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.