Iowa-Purdue Preview

The Hawkeyes are off to Purdue this weekend, a location that has yielded few Iowa wins through the years. Not counting Penn State, as Iowa has only made nine trips to State College, The Hawks have won just 13 games in West Lafayette in the history of the series. That makes it the fourth most difficult road trip for Iowa in its history. Will this be a positive trip for Iowa? Read what the HN.com staff has to say about it...

Iowa has won just six times at Michigan (.242 winning percentage), making that trip the least fruitful, but Ohio State has been the most difficult trip for Iowa based on winning percentage with just eight wins in more games for a winning percentage of .236.

Surprisingly, Minnesota is the third most difficult place for Iowa to win in its history, pulling out just 14 victories in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Iowa is 14-34-1 at Minnesota all time. Hayden Fry was 5-5 at Minnesota. Before Fry Minnesota was the most difficult roadie and Iowa has played Minnesota more times than any other team.

For the record, the rest of Iowa's Big Ten roadies as they relate to winning percentage, from most difficult to least difficult:

Illinois (.367)
Wisconsin (.402)
Michigan State (.472)
Indiana (.515)
Northwestern (.625)
Penn State (.667)…Iowa is 6-3 in games played at Penn State and just 3-7 at home against the Nits, all time.

STAT SHEET STUFFERS

When looking at Iowa and Purdue thus far via statistics, there are some interesting things that jump out.

One of them being that Iowa is averaging better than 187 yards on the ground per game, or 115 more rushing yards per game than a year ago. We are all happy with that, yet it is only good enough for 8th best in the league.

Purdue is 10th in the league allowing nearly 35 points per game. That is a mindblower, considering that they returned all 11 defensive starters from one year ago. Purdue had a better scoring defense than Iowa did in 2004. Talk about your fall from grace with the same personnel. Purdue is allowing 123 more yards per game this year than last with the same group.

Here is one that might surprise you: Iowa is allowing 54 more yards per game this year vs last year, with nearly the entire delta coming on the ground. Of course, Iowa had to replace four senior starters on the defensive line as well as Sean Considine at free safety, a major loss.

Iowa is last in the league in kickoff returns and Purdue is next to last in punt returns. Iowa has had to attempt just seven returns this year, or they have run with the ball seven times at kickoff. The next team in line with the fewest tries is Indiana with 12 then Ohio State with 13.

Iowa leads the league in net punting average and is sixth nationally at 41.5 net yards per punt. Purdue's gross average is 38.3, but they are allowing just .2 yards per return for a net of 38.1. In 23 punts, just five have been returned, and impressive number unless all of those punts have been pooch attempts that went into the endzone.

Would you believe that Purdue is dead last in the Big Ten in passing efficiency and that Iowa is 9th? Perhaps you would right now, but if someone would have told you that before the year began, you probably would have doubted such a prediction.

Iowa is 8th in passing efficiency defense, the best way to gauge your pass defense, while Purdue is 10th.

Purdue is +3 in turnover margin while Iowa is -3. Iowa is last in third down conversions and third down conversions allowed…not good. Purdue is 8th & 9th in those categories. Purdue has yielded the fewest sacks thus far while Iowa ranks 10th in that department.

Iowa has committed the fewest penalties in the league through five games and they are the only team in the Big Ten that has not missed any PAT's or field goals. By the way, Nate Kaeding has yet to miss any kick during the regular season for the Chargers.

Iowa is dead last in time of possession with Purdue ranking 9th. Penn State is 10th, and they are 5-0.

A key stat might be the following: Iowa leads the Big Ten in kickoff coverage, allowing just 16.6 yards per return. Purdue is last, allowing 22.5 yards per return. Field position will be key this week.

Iowa leads the Big Ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency in the red zone. Iowa's lone trip to the red zone was thwarted on downs; they are 16-17, with 13 touchdowns, a good ratio. Purdue is 14-17, with all 14 of their red zone scores being touchdowns.

Opponents are 1 of 5 on field goal attempts in Iowa's red zone, an amazing number. Purdue is last in red zone defense, as their opponents have scored on all 15 trips to their red zone, with 13 of those scores being touchdowns.

GREENWAY THE DIFFERENCE MAKER?

We all saw Chad Greenway play some last week at defensive end. He recorded a sack from that position and he required a double team. I think Iowa needs to use Greenway as a pass rusher against Purdue this week, otherwise Brandon Kirsch is going to have a lot of time to throw the ball. Even if he doesn't get to Kirsch, he is going to require plenty of attention from Purdue blockers.

HAWKEYENATION'S READ ON THE IOWA-PURDUE GAME

BRIAN FINLEY'S TAKE: Both Iowa and Purdue had big expectations, not only from fans, but national media as well coming into this season. You get the sense that the team that wins will go on and win 8 or 9 games, whereas the team that loses may head into a dive. Sheets wills, like every respectable running back Iowa has faced thus far, run through the D, but a few mistakes by streaky Brandon Kirsch will be the difference. Iowa 27 Purdue 21 Useless Fact: Joe Tiller is the only Big Ten Football coach that regularly sports a moustache.

JASON MILLER'S TAKE: Ah, the game I have circled as the biggest game in the Big Ten season for Iowa this year. I had it circled in July, August, September, and it looms even larger today. Both teams desperately have something to prove and want to remain in line for a Big Ten title. Iowa still has many people questioning them on defense. Purdue still has many people questioning them on offense. Something has got to give. I marked this as a loss in July and, I hate to say this, but will have to keep it that way....Ross-Ade is tough to mix correctly this time of year. - PU 31, Iowa 24

ROB HOWE'S TAKE: Two weeks after falling in its personal den of doom, Ohio Stadium, Iowa travels to another location that has been unkind. The Hawkeyes last won at Ross-Ade in 1991, and the three games there in the Kirk Ferentz Era have been lopsided in favor of the home team. This one is tough to figure out as the contest boasts two Jekyll and Hyde teams. Purdue isn't as bad as it looked against Notre Dame and probably not as good as it played at Arizona. Iowa isn't as bad as it looked at Ohio State or as good as it looked against Illinois. An accurate assessment probably falls somewhere in the middle.

In a game of two pretty evenly matched teams, you lean towards the home team. Iowa hasn't shown it can handle road atmospheres this season and has been buried by slow starts. The Hawkeyes will show signs of improvement, but Purdue seems to have their number in West Lafayette: Purdue 27, Iowa 24.

JON MILLER'S TAKE: Purdue and Iowa have been mirror images of one another on defense the last few years. Let's hope that they can play to a draw on Saturday, too. Then it will come down to special teams, turnovers and who can capitalize more in the red zone. Like Rob, I think the Hawks are improving, but Purdue's multiple sets on offense will be challenging. I expect them to come out in the spread a lot, the way that Iowa State and Ohio State hurt the Hawkeyes. Though I think Iowa scores a special teams touchdown, I just have a hard time going away from my preseason prediction of an Iowa loss in this game. I hope that I am wrong: Purdue 27, Iowa 17.

Soundoff with Jim Zabel and Jon Miller will likely start around 8pm CDT on Saturday, so that means that 1040 WHO's 50,000 watt signal will be beaming in across America's heartland and beyond. Those of you traveling home from the game should be able to pick up Soundoff, as should those of you living in Kansas City, Minneapolis, Denver and even down in Atlanta. Be sure to tune in and call in.

Also, Tonic Bar, the future West Des Moines home of HawkeyeNation.com game watches and weekly events is now set to open during Iowa's bye week, so the first official HawkeyeNation.com game watch there will be for the Northwestern game on November 5th. Should things change where it will be open in time for the Iowa-Michigan game, we will let you know. For a look at Tonic, CLICK HERE.


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