116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Here’s what you want to do if you’re the Iowa football team:
Win your next five games. Good night, everybody. Drive safely.
No, the long view isn’t the one people want to see when their team is coming off a 24-7 home loss and its offense looked as impotent as Iowa’s did against Purdue.
It wasn’t a game with a heartbreaking finish that had Top 25 voters hesitant to drop Iowa too far. A one-sided home loss to an unranked team made it easy for them to give the Hawkeyes the hook.
“Speaking of Iowa, it feels good to no longer be voting the Hawkeyes so close to No. 1,” wrote AP Top 25 voter Kellis Robinett of the Wichita Eagle/Kansas City Star, who added this:
“They deserved to be ranked No. 2 last week. They had impressive victories over Iowa State and Penn State. They made Maryland and Indiana look like high school teams. But they were winning with smoke and mirrors. Analytic experts argued they should be rated closer to No. 15. Opposing teams weren’t going to turn the ball over against them at an astronomic rate all season. It was hard to believe they were actually the nation’s second best team.”
You can get mad about that, but Robinett is right. And he had Iowa No. 8 in this week’s voting, so it isn’t as if he kicked the Hawkeyes way down the ladder.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz was also right when he told us every week that rankings don’t mean anything until November. That No. 2 spot was great fun for the week the Hawkeyes had it. It also was partly a result of Ohio State and Alabama losing once in the first half of the season, and you never saw Iowa ahead of either in last week’s reality rankings.
OK, so here’s a sliver of long view, after all: The Hawkeyes won’t play another offense like Purdue’s in the final five games of its regular season, and that’s a very good thing for them. OK, that’s done. Now let’s get back to what’s next.
Iowa is at Wisconsin Oct. 30. The Badgers are No. 2 in the nation in total defense (225.8 yards per game). It seems prudent to look no further than that Oct. 30 date in Madison. Especially when Iowa ranks last in the Big Ten in total offense.
But that isn’t a replica of Purdue’s offense that wears the red and white at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin is 13th in the Big Ten in scoring, 117th in the nation in passing offense.
Whomever gets to 10 points first wins Iowa-Wisconsin, assuming either does. If that team happens to be Iowa, then it can look at a highly-manageable final four games and position itself to win the Big Ten West.
Yet, it’s logical to get stuck on the Hawkeyes being 118th in the nation in total offense. When asked after the Purdue game what his team had to do to avoid another offensive showing like Saturdays, Ferentz said the following:
“I'd say it's a team loss. I didn't see much out there other than our return game that looked real good. Just like when we're winning, one thing feeds off the other. Things complement each other. We couldn't get off the field today.”
One could translate that this way: If the defense can’t combine with the punting unit to give Iowa consistently good field position, it has a hard time scoring.
Iowa still has a great defense. It got outplayed by an opposing offense for the first time in a long time, perhaps since the 2020 opener at Purdue. For the first time in 17 games, the Hawkeyes didn’t intercept a pass.
What Purdue Coach Jeff Brohm did in using three quarterbacks in a variety of circumstances was brilliant, totally out of the box. Aidan O’Connell gave the best performance of the Hawkeyes’ opposing quarterbacks this year, and it’s not close.
Even more impressive was Purdue’s defense looking like a good Big Ten defense, something you couldn’t say about Brohm’s last three Boilermakers teams. He overhauled his defensive coaching staff in the offseason, has three co-defensive coordinators, and has a far more aggressive unit.
Saturday’s Wisconsin-Purdue game will be interesting. Big Ten West-interesting, anyway. Which is the same you can say about Iowa-Wisconsin the following week.
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