The Iowa Hawkeyes and Purdue Boilermakers hope to end their respective losing skids, as the two are set for a Big Ten Conference clash at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday afternoon.
Iowa has lost three straight contests, including last week's 24-21 setback at Indiana. Still, the Hawkeyes can become bowl eligible for the 12th consecutive season by winning two of their final three games. Following this tilt, they'll play at Michigan next week before returning home to face Nebraska in the regular-season finale.
Purdue must win its final three outings to become bowl eligible, but given the way things have gone over the last month, the odds are long of that happening. The Boilermakers enter this matchup riding a five-game losing streak, which includes a 34-9 home loss to Penn State last weekend. They are winless in Big Ten play this season and are also winless on the road.
Iowa has won five of the last six and 17 of the last 23 meetings with Purdue, although it's the Boilermakers who lead the all-time series, 45-34-3.
Robert Marve is expected to make his third start of the season and seventh of his career, against the Hawkeyes. He got the start against Penn State last week but shared snaps with Caleb TerBush, finishing with 138 yards on 22-of-39 passing. TerBush, the starter for most of the year, threw for 155 yards and a score on 10-of-20 passing. On the season, Purdue ranks third in the Big Ten in passing offense, averaging 227.2 yards per game. Veteran wideout Antavian Edison caught nine balls for 93 yards and a score in the loss to Penn State. It marked his 30th consecutive game with a reception. Dolapo Macarthy has become more involved in the offense recently, having caught at least five passes in three straight games.
Purdue's defense did not have a particularly solid performance against PSU. Nittany Lions' quarterback Matt McGloin completed 22-of-36 passes for 321 yards and two scores against the Boilermakers, while Zach Zwinak found some holes in the running game with 134 yards on 21 carries. Purdue ranks 11th in the conference in both total defense (419.8 ypg) and scoring defense (30.2 ppg). Over the last six contests, opponents have averaged a healthy 38.3 points against the Boilermakers. Josh Johnson posted a career-high 10 solo tackles in defeat last week. Joe Gilliam finished with a career-high seven stops, including six solo, and had a pass breakup.
While Purdue's defense has been exposed in recent weeks, Iowa's offense has gone flat. The Hawkeyes are averaging just 17.8 points over their past four tilts, and that includes two overtime periods against Michigan State. Overall, they rank 103rd nationally in scoring offense (20.4 ppg) and 104th in total offense (328.0 ypg). Purdue jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead over Indiana last week. However, the offense was able to generate only seven more points the rest of the way, as the Hoosiers climbed back into the game and eventually won it on a fourth-quarter touchdown pass. James Vandenberg threw for 249 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the loss. Sophomore Kevonte Martin-Manley drew most of the targets, finishing with seven catches for 131 yards and a score.
Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, they had no answer for the Hoosiers' passing game as they surrendered 406 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Indiana wideout Cody Latimer caught all three of those TDs, while he and teammate Kofi Hughes both went over 100 yards receiving. While the Hawkeyes defense is predicated on generating turnovers, they have often been gashed for big chunks of yardage throughout the season. The defense has collected at least one takeaway in eight of nine games, and six of Iowa's 17 defensive takeaways have occurred in the opponent red zone. In each of the last three games, the Hawkeyes have been fortunate enough to recover a fumble in the red zone. Linebacker Christian Kirksey did it last week, and he also returned an interception 18 yards for a score. Fellow linebacker Anthony Hitchens, the nation's fourth-leading tackler (11.8), registered double-digit tackles for the sixth time this year.
Purdue has not won at Kinnick Stadium in 20 years. Despite their recent woes, the Hawkeyes figure to enter this home contest feeling confident against the struggling Boilermakers.
Predicted Outcome: Iowa 34, Purdue 22
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