Iowa looks to move to 11-0 on the year on Saturday when they host Purdue for an 11:00 a.m. CST kickoff. The Boilermakers enter the game with a 2-8 record and 1-5 in conference play. The lone Big Ten win came over Nebraska while they also competed in close contests against Michigan State and Northwestern.
The Hawkeyes have had a magical year, obviously, by their unblemished record. They haven't been able to put a lot of teams away but that is not a sign of lackluster play. At this point, they're getting everybody's best shot. The only games they really separated from their competition was against Illinois State, North Texas, Northwestern, and Maryland.
The forecast for Saturday could have an impact on this game. It is supposed to be the coldest game thus far, windy, with snow falling as well. The expected accumulations of precipitation vary anywhere from 3-9 inches of snow depending on what outlet is being checked.
With the weather expected to be pretty impactful, the passing games for either team could be challenged. That's good news for the Hawkeyes. They're one of the best at stopping the run and one of the best at running the ball. On the other hand, the Boilermakers have the Big Ten's worst defense against the run. They've allowed over 200 yards per game on the ground. Advantage, Hawkeyes. Immensely.
Dual-threat quarterbacks always pose more problems for any defense and Iowa will have the responsibility of containing a dynamic one on Saturday in Boilermaker signal caller David Blough. As Iowa's defense noted throughout the week, he can beat the opponent by passing the ball or running it. He was particularly dangerous in the win over the Cornhuskers.
I think this game gets played largely on the ground. Iowa should be able to slice and dice through the Boilermaker front seven, or if they put eight or nine in the box. They'll have to throw to keep Purdue honest defensively but the running game should be able to net 300 yards at least in this one. There could be a lot of carries in this one so the services of Akrum Wadley, Jordan Canzeri, and LeShun Daniels could all be used with frequency. The Boilermakers will need to pass the ball to win this one and the conditions could make that difficult. The last time the Hawkeyes played a team in pretty difficult conditions was the windy environment at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. The wind proved to be the toughest opponent for Wisconsin's Joel Stave and Iowa's C.J. Beathard throughout that day. This could be similar.
With both theams being reluctant to pass the ball due to the conditions, this has the potential to be a quick one, but one in Iowa's favor.
I expect this game to be similar to the one in Madison except Purdue won't be able to pressure the quarterback or stop the run as well as the Badgers. It will be another ball-control, time-possessing game for the Hawkeye offense en route to victory while their defense responds with one of their better outings of the year.
HAWK TO ROCK
The offense should be centered around the run game. With C.J. Beathard needing a bit of rest to avoid contact for a week after last game's bumps and bruises, look for the running backs to dominate the ball. Which one emerges is anyone's guess as it has been all year. It's senior day so possibly Jordan Canzeri. But that won't determine who gets the majority of the carries. They'll ride the hot hand. I think that's LeShun Daniels once again while Jordan Canzeri gets the opportunity to come in as the closer later on in the second half.
For that, LeShun Daniels on offense.
Defensively, it'll be a game dictated by the running game on both sides but Purdue knows they'll need to pass to win. I think the Iowa Hawkeyes are able to respond this week and play fast on that side of the ball. That means they could get a pass rush this week. I'm going to ride with Nate Meier. I think the senior has a big game as he continues to heal. He's been quiet the past few weeks. He's due.