Iowa Football

Iowa football: 5 things to know about Purdue

Boilermakers have not announced starting QB for Saturday's game

Aidan O'Connell took over at quarterback last year after Jack Plummer was injured. Both are in the running this year, to
Aidan O’Connell took over at quarterback last year after Jack Plummer was injured. Both are in the running this year, too. (Associated Press)

It’s officially Week 8 in college football.

For the University of Iowa and the Big Ten Conference, this is Week 1.

The off-and-on season begins for the Hawkeyes with a trip to West Lafayette, Ind., and a date with the Purdue Boilermakers.

This will be the 91st meeting between these two teams, a series Purdue leads 48-39-3. Iowa won last year’s meeting, 26-20, but the Boilermakers won in 2018 and ’17.

1. The return of Rondale Moore

It appears how Rondale Moore goes, so goes the Boilermakers.

During his fabulous All-American freshman season — 114 receptions, 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns — Purdue went 6-6 in the regular season and played in the Music City Bowl. Last year, when he played in just four games and had 29 receptions for 387 yards and two TDs before getting injured, it went 4-8.

After initially opting to skip the 2020 season, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound sophomore changed his mind when the Big Ten announced its would return to a fall schedule.

“The Big Ten figured it out. Purdue was doing a great job of keeping us safe, and I felt safe coming back,” Moore told ESPN on Sept. 24 when he announced his return. “For me, it was a no-brainer to come back to school and go prove what I think I’m worth.”

In his only game against the Hawkeyes, in 2018, he caught six passes for 31 yards.

“We are excited to have Rondale rejoin our team,” Brohm wrote on Twitter after Moore’s announcement. “He is a player of unique talents and character, and everyone knows how much he loves to compete. Rondale is focused and driven to be the best, and we know that he is ready to show the world that he is better than ever.”

2. Cradle of QBs waits to publicly name a starter

The “Cradle of Quarterbacks” is having a hard time picking one this season.

Purdue is a school that has produced the likes of Drew Brees, Gary Danielson, Len Dawson, Jim Everett and Bob Griese — among many — but is looking for its next leader.

Apparently a starter has been tabbed, but Brohm will not announce who it is until Saturday.

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Jack Plummer, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound sophomore, would seem to be the front-runner after completing 144 of 241 passes for 1,603 yards and 11 TDs last fall before getting injured. But Austin Burton and Aidan O’Connell also are in the mix.

Plummer played against Iowa last fall, completing 30 of 50 passes for 327 yards and two TDs.

Burton, a junior, is 6-2 and 200 and started his career at UCLA. He completed 44 of 64 passes for 365 yards and one TD last season. O’Connell is 6-3, 215 and also a junior. He played in six games after Plummer got hurt last year and passed for 1,101 yards and eight TDs, completing 103 of 164 passes.

3. Jeff Brohm: Dual threat coach

When Brohm was in high school, he had a tough decision to make. Baseball or football?

The “Kentucky High School Player of the Decade” for the 1980s, Brohm also won Kentucky’s “Mr. Football” Award in 1988 after quarterbacking Trinity High School in Louisville to an unbeaten season and state title.

But he also was a standout baseball player who was drafted in the seventh round of the 1989 draft by the Montreal Expos. He chose to play football and baseball at Louisville.

He was drafted again — this time in the fourth round — by the Cleveland Indians after his freshman season and decided to play baseball in the summer, football in the fall.

Two years later, he dropped baseball again and led Louisville to a 9-3 season and into the Liberty Bowl.

He ended up playing seven seasons in the NFL, playing in eight games and completing 37 of 58 passes for 353 yards and one touchdown. He also spent a season in the XFL, starting seven games and passing for 993 yards and nine TDs.

4. Purdue Pumpkin Shuckers?

So where did the nickname Boilermakers come from?

According to one report, the name stuck after a 44-0 whipping of Wabash College in 1891 when the Daily Argus-News headlined its game story “Wabash Snowed Completely Under by the Burly Boiler Makers from Purdue.”

Purdue is a land-grant university and was known for its “railway technology.”

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“Purdue’s engineering department kept a fully operational steam locomotive, The Schenectady, on-hand for research,” the Knox News wrote last year.

Apparently the local media used such names as rail splitters, blacksmiths, foundry molders and pumpkin shuckers to identify the students and athletics teams.

Pumpkin Shuckers didn’t stick.

5. History lesson: Purdue’s national title

Purdue owns a national title ... kind of.

In 1931, Nobel Kizer guided the Boilermakers to a 9-1 season. The team was “retroactively selected national champion by Parke Davis, an NCAA-designated major selector.”

But Purdue wasn’t alone. Davis also named Pittsburgh national champion that year.

Comments: (319) 398-8416; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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