Bring on the snow. Bring on Purdue.
The Misery Index
It is going to be gross tomorrow. The snow won’t be falling, but there could be some residual slush on the field. And it’ll be freaking cold. Does Purdue really want to be out there for three hours playing for, what, pride? If Iowa can start fast and really knock Purdue off the ball, then we’ll see if the Boilermakers can punch back.
With the weather and against the worst rushing defense in the B1G, this game has LeShun Daniels pounding the ball up the middle written all over it. Purdue gives up almost 210 yards on the ground per game and over 5 yards per carry. They’ve given up over 300 yards in a game multiple times this year.
And Daniels looked his best last week. He showed power up the middle, the ability to make moves laterally, and even enough speed to take it to the house. Mix in Jordan Canzeri and hopefully Akrum Wadley will be back… Iowa could have a game like the second half against Northwestern and leave Purdue’s defense demoralized and not wanting to get hit hard in the freezing cold any more.
Shore Up the Run Defense
Minnesota used misdirection and read-option plays to get a ground game going against Iowa’s front 7. Purdue has the chops to do something similar with David Blough at QB and Markell Jones at running back. Blough doesn’t run the ball a lot, but he is capable when he does. He has four rushing touchdowns this year and had an 82-yard rushing game in Purdue’s win over Nebraska. Jones, as a freshman, has been having a very good year. He has 692 yards on 128 carries. He’s also good coming out of the backfield and has an additional 218 yards receiving.
Purdue does its damage by spreading out the defense and going 4-wide a lot or going 3-wide with an H-back, then running with Jones from a zone-read look or on a little delay. They use that to try to set up play-action and let Blough take shots down the field. Iowa will likely not commit extra guys to the box and will keep their linebackers over slot receivers. So if the Hawkeye D can handle the run with just 5 or 6 guys in the box, they should be able to focus on stopping Blough’s passing attack. He has the capability to put up big numbers. He thrown for over 270 yards three times this year, but did struggle in their two tough road games at Michigan State and Wisconsin.
Don’t Throw Picks
Purdue’s only win over a FBS opponent came on the day where Nebraska’s backup QB threw 4 interceptions. He also turned it over on a fumbled snap. In Purdue’s other win, they had two picks as well. That’s been the only way that the Boilermakers have gotten over the hump and won games -- getting handed turnovers.
But Iowa has been very good at holding on to the ball this year, especially lately. C.J. Beathard hasn’t thrown an interception since the Northwestern game and has only thrown three all year. And the last time Iowa lost a fumble was against Wisconsin. So that is three games in a row without a turnover for Iowa. If Iowa makes that four games in a row, Purdue doesn’t stand much of a chance.
This will be the final game in Kinnick for 21 seniors on this roster. And man have they been on a ride. They’ve gone through some of the lowest lows with that abysmal 2012 season. And now are riding the highest high.
The seniors are a huge reason for Iowa’s success this year. Austin Blythe and Jordan Walsh have been two of the best interior linemen in the country this year. Blythe has been just dominant. Running behind them, Jordan Canzeri has had some very impressive performances and a good chunk of his success is thanks to the blocking of fullbacks Adam Cox and Marcus Plewa.
In the passing game, Tevaun Smith has been a big play receiver and Jake Hillyer has quietly had a solid year. Jake Duzey hasn’t yet recovered fully from his injury, but Henry Krieger Coble has stepped up big.
On the defensive side of the ball Nate Meier has really stepped up after Drew Ott went down. Cole Fisher has been a nice surprise at linebacker. And Jordan Lomax has been good cleaning up from his spot at safety.
And finally, the kickers. Marshall Koehn had the play of the year and has been very good all year (well, aside from those missed extra points). Dillon Kidd has really stepped up after struggling last year and turned into a very consistent punter.
I think we’ll see big performances out of the senior starters tomorrow and hopefully Iowa can build a big enough lead to give some of the other guys some significant time. Guys like Sean Draper, Travis Perry, and Melvin Spears could see some time even without a big lead. Eric Simmons will probably be in there on special teams and hopefully Andrew Stone can get in for a few snaps. The only seniors that won’t be out there are the injured Ott and Darian Cooper.
I think the weather contributes to a conservative and run-heavy game. That definitely favors the Hawkeyes and they rack up yards and burn the clock. Blough is able to do some damage and Purdue, like Minnesota, pulls out all the stops to generate a little bit of offense. It won’t be enough though, as Iowa’s run game is balanced out with just enough passing from Beathard.
Final Score: Iowa 27 - Purdue 14
BONUS! Make your own prediction, courtesy the folks at The Crowd's Line: