The Iowa football team will face Purdue today in what has become a misery-loves-company matchup.
The teams should be thrilled to play each other because neither strikes an imposing figure these days.
Purdue also is Iowa’s protected rivalry according to the Big Ten Conference. And right now, the teams need serious protection.
As bad as things are for Iowa, who has lost three games in a row, Purdue is in worse shape, losers of its last five games, including four by double figures.
Purdue was perceived by many, including myself, as a potential sleeper in the Big Ten this season, but instead has sleepwalked through the conference schedule, losing all five of its conference games by a combined margin of 189-86. It’s closest loss, ironically, was a 29-22 setback in overtime against undefeated Ohio State.
“Regardless of the situation, I thought they were a dangerous team in the summertime,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of Purdue. “That was one team I really kind of, not that I’m jumping in on the prognosticator derby, but yeah, it’s a good team. It’s a team that I thought could emerge. With their veteran players, I certainly thought that was a possibility.”
The matchup still looks competitive on paper, but that’s only because Iowa is fully capable of playing down to Purdue’s level.
It appears the only thing Purdue coach Danny Hope has going for him right now is his last name. His boss, Purdue Athletics Director Morgan Burke, released a statement last week about the state of the football program without mentioning Hope.
If that’s not a sign of somebody on the verge of being fired, then what is?
On the other hand, it’s hard to picture Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta releasing a statement about the Iowa program without mentioning how great Ferentz is and how fortunate Iowa is to have Ferentz signed through the 2020 season.
Iowa and Purdue are struggling, but that’s about where the similarities end.
Hope is fighting for his job, and Ferentz is fighting to stay relevant on the national scene.
The teams still are mathematically in the running to make a bowl game, but Purdue (3-6) has to win out and Iowa (4-5) has to win two of its final three regular-season games to qualify.
That seems too much to ask in both cases.
Purdue’s remaining schedule inspires some hope, no pun intended, because the three teams — Iowa, Illinois and Indiana — are a combined 10-17, including 4-11 in the Big Ten. It seems reasonable that Purdue could win one of the three games, maybe even two, but not all three.
Iowa plays at Michigan on Nov. 17 before closing the regular season against Nebraska on Nov. 23 at Kinnick Stadium.
The Michigan players talked back in July at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon about how important it was to defeat Iowa after losing the previous three games against the Hawkeyes. It’ll also be Michigan’s final home game for its seniors, so the chance of having a letdown, even a week before the annual showdown against Ohio State, would appear slim.
Nebraska will be playing for a Legends Division title and most likely before a bunch of its fans Nov. 23 at Kinnick Stadium. Rumors are that Nebraska fans are taking advantage of Iowa’s recent skid by snatching up tickets from disgruntled Hawkeye fans who trying to raise additional funds for the holidays.
As for Purdue, the statistics don’t lie with it ranked in the lower half of the Big Ten in almost every defensive category, including 11th in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense.
Those statistics are startling considering who Purdue has playing on its defensive line, most notably senior standout Kawann Short, who has started all 46 games in his Purdue career.
Short and his cohorts could cause problems for a depleted Iowa offensive line. And if the Iowa offensive line struggles to protect senior quarterback James Vandenberg, Purdue might finally get over the hump against a Big Ten opponent.
Indiana also was a statistical nightmare on defense, but it was hard to tell that with Iowa managing just 96 rushing yards on 30 carries against the Hoosiers.
Iowa and Purdue aren’t very good right now and they weren’t very good when the season started.
That’s why they’re made for each other.
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Iowa is at risk of losing four consecutive Big Ten games for just the second time in 14 seasons under coach Kirk Ferentz. His debut season in 1999 when Iowa finished 1-10 is the only time it has happened.
Iowa needs to win two of its final three regular-season games to meet the six-victory bowl requirement.
The Iowa players will honor the military in recognition of Veteran’s Day by wearing Nike Pro Combat uniforms.
Sophomore running back Mark Weisman and junior fullback Brad Rogers are doubtful for the Purdue game because of injuries.
Sixth-year senior quarterback Robert Marve will be starting a Big Ten game for just the second time during his injury-riddled career.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football