Iowa/Purdue: 6 Questions with the HN Staff

Each week, the HN Staff sits down to talk about that match-up. See what Jon Miller, Rob Howe, and Brian Finley had to say about Iowa's game against Purdue.

1. Do you think there is a risk of Iowa suffering an emotional let down this week after such a big win, and then the emotionally draining aspects of the Senior Day introductions?

Rob: There's always a chance of those things happening. One need to look farther back in time than Western Michigan last year to see an example. I just feel like this team is better made up from a focus standpoint. I think they could be a little flat early, but it won't be a big enough hangover to cost them the game.

Jon:  At first blush I want to say yes, then Mitch King's face pops into my head.  Not the nice Mitch face, but the madman Mitch face.  And frankly, that scares me.  I just don't see this year's senior class going out like that.  They have a chance to be remembered as a pretty special group, a group that stood in the gap and said 'here, but no farther.'  A group that perhaps helped the Hawks get back to a January bowl game and restore the pride in the program for fans around Hawkeye Nation.

Brian: I think there are too many reminders of previous errors for that to happen this time around. Western Michigan, Purdue last year, Minnesota the year before, etc, etc.

2. In honor of senior day, which senior will Iowa miss most next season (you cannot say Shonn Greene)?

Rob: I think a case could be made for Seth Olsen and Bradley Fletcher, but my choice here is Rob Bruggeman. Kirk Ferentz kept telling us how good this kid was before he finally got a chance to get on the field this season. Now we know the reason for the coach's praise. Not only is Bruggeman been a big boost to the center of the Hawkeye line, he's moved into a leadership role in his first season of seeing meaningful snaps. He's been a game captain for most of the season. Whomever steps into his shoes next season - Josh Koeppel, Rafael Eubanks, James Ferentz - will have his work cut out for him.

Jon: Mitch King.  He is one of my favorite Hawkeyes of all time, and he has that kind of motor that does not quit.  I know that Iowa moved on from Bob Sanders to Matt Roth, from Roth to King...who will be the next player to step into that sort of mold?  A heart and soul leader of the Iowa defense?  It will be interesting to see who rises into that position.  Perhaps its Pat Angerer next year.  I just know that I will miss the long haired wild man quite a bit.

Brian: Mitch King. I feel like he's one of the few vocal emotional leaders on the team. There are plenty of other 'lead by example' guys, but Mitch is the one in the middle of that Hawkeye huddle before the game getting everyone ready to go. This year, that's what's kept this team together, and it'll be hard to replace next year.

3. Iowa opened as a 15-point favorite against the Boilermakers and the line as moved to 17.5. The last time the Hawkeyes were that big of a choice in a conference game was on Nov. 4, 2006 (-20.5) against Northwestern in the famous "fat cats" game. Is this spread justified and will Iowa cover it?

Rob: I think the spread is just about right, the one at 15 that is. I can see Iowa winning by two touchdowns, but I have to think that Iowa comes down a bit emotionally after last week's upset of No. 3 Penn State. Purdue is playing out the string having been eliminated from bowl contention. The Boilers could be in care-free or could-not-care-less mode. I think it will be closer to the latter. I like Iowa, but I would not give up 17.5 points. That's just to many in this conference this season. 

Jon: I don't know that I would say it's justified.  Iowa got off some points against Wisconsin at home and Indiana on the road.  But everyone has done that to Indiana, or almost everyone.  With the weather forecast calling for horrible conditions, I don't think Iowa wins by 17.5 points.  But I do think Iowa is going to pound Purdue into submission on the ground on a day where physical play will tell the story

Brian: I think the spread is justified based on the way Iowa plays the game. Purdue doesn't have consistent play in any phase of the game. Some games they can run, some games they'll lay an egg. Some games they can pass, and some games they'll have a passing efficiency rating of about 85. Iowa dictates the game to their opponent. That's going to be Shonn Greene and play action. Purdue has not given up fewer than 140 gross yards on the ground in any of their games this season. That includes such powerhouses as Northern Colorado and Central Michigan.

4. If the game is out of reach for the Boilers, and the opportunities are there, will Ferentz allow Shonn Greene to reach 200 yards as he did against Wisconsin, or will they limit his carries in hopes of keeping him healthy for the Gophers?

Rob: Absolutely not. Ferentz just isn't wired that way. And he has enough respect for Tiller that he's not going to rub his nose in it if presented with the opportunity. I remember against Northwestern in 2002 when Brad Banks came out and completed 10-10 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns in win over Northwestern. He rushed five times for 54 yards and two scores before being pulled in the first half.

Jon:  No way does Kirk do that.  That would just seem to be out of his nature.  And Shonn wouldn't have gotten to 217 yards against Wisconsin were it not for nearly 90 yards in two plays.  If Shonn comes by it naturally, then he gets it.  But I just have the feeling that we are going to see a lot of running plays on Saturday, and I don't think Shonn is going to be the man carrying the ball all day.  In fact, I think Jewell Hamton will get just as many carries.

Brian: I would have agreed with both of you until the Wisconsin game. The game was a three-score affair in the fourth quarter, Shonn was over 20 carries, Hampton had seen virtually zero time, but Ferentz left Greene in the game. Maybe the explanation would be a flashback to the 'fat cats' game mentioned earlier, and that no lead is safe, so why not pile on. I think Shonn will play through the third quarter, at least, regardless of score.

5. Purdue has the second-to-worst net punting average in the country, averaging just over 30 net yards per punt.  Will Brodell take one back this week?

Rob: I won't call for a return to the house as those are few and far between. I do think Brodell will enjoy a big all-around day, which include some nice returns. If Iowa gets ahead, we could see a replacement back there in the second half.

Jon:  Punters can be line drive bad, punters can be shank out of bounds bad.  I watched the Purdue-MSU game last week, and they were both in the same game.  Shank out of bounds bad doesn't allow for a lot of returns.  But it's my guess that Brodell will get a lot of chances in this game.  That being said, I won't go so far to predict him to take one to the house.  Although, that would be great on Senior Day.

Brian: Purdue's given up two punt return touchdowns this season, along with one punt block returned for a touchdown. I think Brodell gets it done.

6. Who is your pick to click?

Rob: Andy Brodell. I don't think he'll top Ed Hinkel's finale, but he should still have a big final day in Kinnick. I think he'll catch a touchdown or two and do something exciting in the return game. 

Jon:  Jewell Hampton.  The weather forecast is not good; perhaps just as bad as last week against Penn State.  The good news is that Purdue's front line is not Penn State good.  They are salty, but at this point in the season, with a bowl game out of reach for Purdue, Coach Joe Tiller on the way out, what are they playing for?  Iowa meanwhile is playing for a possible January Bowl bid.  None of the players needed to be reminded on Tuesday about what happened last year on Senior Day.  I think Iowa pounds the rock, so much so that Hampton gets 20 carries, and his will come later in the game after Greene has softened things up. 

Mitch King: I think Iowa gets ahead by a few scores, allowing King and Co. to tee off on the sophomore quarterback. I see King coming away with a few sacks and plenty of disruption.

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