The Boilermaker defense has struggle so far this season and it's primarily been defending the run. The Boilers are giving up nearly 245 yards per game to teams on the ground this season. In their Big Ten opener they gave up 400 yards on the ground to Maryland, including 7 carries for 204 yards and two TD's to Ty Johnson in a 50-7 loss. It appeared that Iowa got the run game going a bit this past Saturday, so that should be something to keep our eyes on when Saturday rolls around.
This defense is also giving up around 31 points per game to their opponents, which could be a blessing for the Hawkeyes who have struggled on the offensive side of the football this season. If Iowa is able to put some points up and gain some confidence that would be huge heading into a big time matchup with Wisconsin.
Blough is Turnover Prone
The turnover battle is always a big key in any football game. The Hawkeyes are usually fairly careful with the football, but David Blough, Purdue's gunslinger, has not been so far this season. Blough has thrown nine interceptions so far this season, including five in the game against Cincinnati. This is a big reason for Purdue's -1.2 turnover margin, which ranks last in the Big Ten.
If Iowa is able to turn Blough over a few times, like they did to Mitch Leidner this past Saturday they Hawkeyes will set themselves up well. The only problem they had this weekend was they turned it over just as much as the Gophers did. That can't happen this Saturday. With how talented Iowa is in the defensive backfield when it comes to defending the pass, life could be rough for Blough on Saturday.
Bad Under Hazell
There really isn't any other way to put it. Purdue has been terrible under head coach Darrell Hazell. He took over back in 2013 and in his first three seasons, the Boilermakers hadn't won more than three games in a season. So far this season Hazell has Purdue sitting at 3-2 through five weeks of the season. While they do have three wins under their belt, I wouldn't say I've been impressed with anything I've seen from Purdue early on.
They beat Eastern Kentucky, Nevada, and Illinois last week in their first Big Ten road win since 2014 when they beat, you guessed it, Illinois. Many people were surprised when Hazell kept his job after the 2015 season, but Purdue figured they'd give it another shot with Darrell.
For Iowa, a loss to this Purdue team would be inexcusable.
Thumbing through some Purdue stats and I found something fairly interesting. The Boilers do a very good job of converting on third downs, converting nearly 52% on offense, but they turn around and are letting their opponents convert over 50% of their third downs. For Iowa, these will both be key. They did a good job last week getting off the field and keeping Minnesota in 3rd and long situations. Considering Purdue converts a good amount of their third downs, Iowa will need to be sharp on third downs.
They also did a good job converting third downs as well. They had a few keys conversions, but would falter later on during the drive. If Iowa can stay on the field after third downs it will wear that Purdue defense out and could make way for big run plays late in the game.
Struggle Against Iowa
I'm a stat junkie and over the course of the last ten meetings between the Boilers and the Hawkeyes Purdue has dropped eight of ten. Their only two wins came in 2012 and 2007. None of this means that Iowa is a shoe-in for a victory, but the Hawkeyes have had their way with the Boilers over the course of the last decade.