116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Purdue has had Iowa’s number lately. The Boilermakers most likely took Iowa’s number — the No. 2 ranking next to its name — too on Saturday.
The unranked Boilermakers (4-2, 2-1) upset No. 2 Iowa (6-1, 3-1) Saturday, 24-7, shocking the college football world and upending the Hawkeyes’ College Football Playoff aspirations.
Iowa never led in what turned into an ugly Saturday. For the second consecutive week, Iowa found itself in a double-digit deficit, but didn’t muster a second-half comeback this time.
"We all know we can play a lot better than that, and we have played a lot better than that,” Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras said. “Losing sucks. It’s not fun.”
Purdue wide receiver David Bell, who received a lot of recruiting attention from Iowa, torched the Hawkeyes. Boilermaker quarterbacks targeted him 12 times. He caught 11 of those passes for 240 yards.
“Coming in, we knew he was a really good player, and he showed that tonight,” Iowa linebacker Seth Benson said.
It helped Purdue, using a mix of Aidan O’Connell, Jack Plummer and Austin Burton, produce more at the quarterback position than any of the Hawkeyes’ first six opponents.
O’Connell, who took the bulk of the throws, was the first opposing quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards against the Hawkeyes in 2021. He finished with 375 passing yards and two touchdowns while completing 75 percent of his passes.
Plummer and Burton, meanwhile combined to run for 30 of Purdue’s 86 rushing yards.
The defense that forced an FBS-best 16 interceptions through its first six games did not force a turnover until late in the third quarter Saturday.
The lone turnover was the result of an obscure rule as well. Purdue receiver T.J. Sheffield fumbled the ball into the pylon, which resulted in an Iowa touchback.
The underwhelming defensive performance was Iowa’s first without starting cornerback Riley Moss, who Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday will be out for a “couple weeks hopefully.” Moss, who was not in uniform, had a knee brace on during Saturday’s loss.
Playing without Moss “was obviously tough,” safety Jack Koerner said, but the rest of the players “didn’t execute as well as we would’ve liked” anyway.
“Whether or not Riley was out or not, they played well, and we just weren’t able to perform what we wanted to do,” Koerner said.
Iowa’s offense, meanwhile, struggled against Purdue’s defensive front.
Petras had one of his worst performances of the season, completing just 53 percent of his passes for 195 yards and tossing a season-high four interceptions.
Petras did not find the end zone for the first time this season.
“I need to play a lot better, as does the other 10 guys on the field,” Petras said.
The junior quarterback didn’t have much time either. He took four sacks, and was hurried another six times.
“Our protection wasn't great,” Ferentz said.
The running game didn’t go much better, averaging 2.5 yards per carry.
Running back Tyler Goodson had a 32-yard run in the second quarter but otherwise rarely had much room to run.
Ferentz said he was still “encouraged” by the improvements the running game is making, though.
“I think we're making some strides in the running game,” Ferentz said.
Iowa appeared to be on the way to a fourth-quarter comeback when Ivory Kelly-Martin returned a kickoff 67 yards to the Purdue 19-yard line. The Iowa offense went four-and-out, though, after Petras ran for no gain on fourth down.
“They had essentially, I think, a goal-line defense in there,” Petras said. “They knew it was coming, and most teams do know it’s coming, but they just out-executed us.”
It was one of three Iowa trips within the Purdue 10-yard-line. The Hawkeyes scored just once on those trips, though.
Kicker Caleb Shudak missed a 25-yard field goal in the second quarter, negating a 17-play, 68-yard Iowa drive.
The Hawkeyes had success on their next drive, though. Kelly-Martin had a 3-yard touchdown to cap off the 80-yard Iowa drive.
Iowa’s offense didn’t get back into Purdue territory until the Kelly-Martin kickoff return that ended in a four-and-out.
The rest of the Iowa special teams unit that had been elite in the first six games had a setback Saturday amid windy conditions at Kinnick Stadium.
Punter Tory Taylor averaged just 40.7 yards per punt although all three of his punts came against the 16-mile-per-hour wind.
Shudak’s 25-yard miss was the shortest miss of his career. Entering Saturday’s game, he made 11 of 12 field goals this season.
Saturday’s heartbreak wasn’t new for Iowa fans.
The Hawkeyes have plenty of painful memories against Purdue. The Boilermakers have now won four of the last five matchups against Iowa.
This one likely hurts even more, though, because of the postseason implications. Ranked No. 2 in every major poll, the Hawkeyes appeared to be on the trajectory for a College Football Playoff berth.
With the Purdue loss, Iowa faces a likely exit from the upper echelons of the college football polls.
The Hawkeyes won’t have another opportunity for a signature win that could bolster their postseason resume until the Big Ten championship game, if they make it there.
Ferentz knew there was a chance this game might not go Iowa’s way.
“We could be crying next week at this time or we could be really happy,” Ferentz said after last week’s Penn State win.
It was the former, and now the Hawkeyes have a bye week to wipe away those tears.
Comments: (319) 398-8394; email@example.com