Opponent preview: Purdue Boilermakers

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WEST LAFAYETTE, IN – SEPTEMBER 25: Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen #2 of the Purdue Boilermakers dives to pull in a pass during the second half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Ross-Ade Stadium on September 25, 2021 in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

 

The Hawkeyes have been rolling so far this season, but don’t look now, here come the Boilermakers. For Iowa, that’s meant trouble over the last couple years, going 1-3 against Jeff Brohm and Co.

“It’s not good,” Moon Family Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz said.

Aside from his success against the Hawkeyes (6-0), there’s more losing for the Boilermakers (3-2) under Brohm than winning. He led Purdue to a winning a season and a 38-35 bowl win over Arizona in his first season. He’s yet to repeat either of those feats. Since, he’s had three straight losing seasons.

2021 Results

Win vs Oregon State, 30-21
Win at UConn, 49-0
Loss at No. 12 Notre Dame, 27-13
Win vs Illinois, 13-9
Loss vs Minnesota, 13-10

Here’s what to expect from Purdue when they take the field in Iowa City on Saturday.

Series Quick Facts

Number of games: 91
First meeting: October 22, 1910; Iowa 16-0
Last meeting: October 24, 2020; Purdue 24-20
All-time series: Purdue, 49-39
Current win streak: Purdue, 1 (2020)
Longest win streak: Purdue, 20 (1961-1980)

Significant Purdue Stats

Passing Offense: 325.4 yards/game (10th nationally)
Completion Percentage: 68.3 percent (16th nationally)
Total Defense: 299.6 yards allowed/game (14th nationally)
Scoring Defense: 15.5 points allowed/game (8th nationally)
Sacks Allowed: 2.8 sacks/game (102nd nationally)
Turnovers Forced: 2 (Last nationally)


Stat Leaders

Passing: Jack Plummer (QB), 840 yards, 7 TDs, 0 INT
Rushing: King Doerue (RB), 221 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: David Bell (WR), 27 catches, 449 yards, 3 TDs
Tackles: Marvin Grant (S), 28

Offense

It’s been Jeff Brohm calling since, well, it seems forever. That makes sense for a former NFL/XFL quarterback. His final year at Western Kentucky, the Hilltoppers were the number one scoring offense in the country, at 45.5 points per game.

He hasn’t found that same success in terms of points in the Big Ten, but the passing numbers do jump off the page this season. Just like most of the Hawkeye opponents this season, they want to throw the ball, and they want to throw it deep.

“They love the big pass play, it’s kind of the heart and soul of their team,” senior safety Jack Koerner said.

If that doesn’t work, they’ll do it again. And again. And again.

“They’re not trying to necessarily, 15-play drive, ground and pound us down the field,” Koerner said. “They’re thinking ‘Let’s try to get it all right now, if we don’t get it there, we’ll get it next drive.’ They’re trying to air it out, get a pass interference or get the deep ball and try to get it all in one shot.”

They’ve played two quarterbacks this season. Junior Jack Plummer started the first four games of the season before getting replaced in second half of Purdue’s 13-9 win against Illinois. Senior Aiden O’Connell started their last game, a 13-10 loss to Minnesota. O’Connell did see action in all games before that except the season opener against Oregon State.

To this point the stats favor Plummer, who leads the team in yards and has seven touchdowns with no interceptions. O’Connell comes into the game with four touchdowns to five picks. He was also under center for Purdue’s win over Iowa last season. In that game he threw the ball 50 times for 282 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Coach Ferentz said the Hawkeyes are preparing for both quaterbacks.

“I’m not sure it matters they’re both good players and they both move the team so it’s a good situation for them and it just makes it a little bit more of a challenge for us because it’s not just one guy pitching the ball, it could be two,” he said.

The real headache comes from junior receiver David Bell, who’s torched the Hawkeyes in the past.

“David Bell is one of the best players that I’ve seen in quite some time,” coach Ferentz said. “We certainly haven’t had much luck defending him. He’s playing at a real high level, once again, predictably there. So that’s going to be a challenge for us.”

He comes into this one with 26 catches, 318 and four touchdowns in games against the Hawkeyes. Last year he had a 13 catch and career-high three touchdown day against Iowa.

“They want the ball in his hands whatever way they can do it,” Koerner said. “Limiting the deep ball is going to be crucial against him as well, because that’s how sometimes he’s hurt us in the past.”

Purdue has started the same group of offensive lineman and they’ve have varying levels of experience. The stats will tell you they haven’t hit their stride, as they’ve allowed 14 sacks, which ranks towards the bottom nationally, as does the rushing attack. The Boilermakers average just 2.8 yards per carry and 89 yards per game on the ground.

Though their leading rusher King Doerue is averaging 4.6 yards per carry.

Defense

It’s another tough test on paper for the Hawkeyes offensively, as Purdue is the number three defense in the Big Ten right now in terms of scoring. They allow just 15.4 points per game. It’s a new system from last year, as they have three co-defensive coordinators all in their first year in the role.

One of their strengths is in their d-line.

“It starts with No. 5, that defensive lineman,” Spencer Petras said.

That’s George Karlaftis, a junior, who has 23.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in 20 career games. He recieved plenty of preseason recognition, being named to watch lists for the Lott Trophy, Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy.

Despite their good statistical rankings, they’re a team that’s struggled to force turnovers and get sacks, as they rank last in the Big Ten in both of those categories.

“It’s one of those deals, they make you earn it down the field,” Petras said.

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