By Pete Ruden | firstname.lastname@example.org
For the second week in a row, Iowa performed poorly, losing this time in Kinnick on Nov. 18 to Purdue, 24-15.
The loss comes a week after “racking up” a total of 66 yards on offense in a 38-14 shellacking at Wisconsin.
This one seemed just as bad, though.
On a Senior Day full of optimism, the Hawkeyes couldn’t get much going on offense, and the defense fell apart immediately after halftime.
“Needless to say, it was a very disappointing, frustrating game for our team,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Early when we got challenged out there, we weren’t able to execute the way you need to execute, and that’s just the bottom line.”
While the Hawkeyes (6-5) held a 9-7 lead at the start of the third quarter, that didn’t last long because the Boilermakers (5-6) figured out their offensive game plan and turned the momentum completely.
With Josh Jackson’s play this season, Purdue decided to target the other side of the field, and Manny Rugamba was the first victim.
On the first drive after halftime, Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar targeted Rugamba’s side of the field four times.
It resulted in three completions, a pass interference call, and a 42-yard touchdown to Anthony Mahoungou.
The Boilermakers weren’t finished. Rugamba was benched, but Purdue stuck to its plan — and it worked again.
Michael Ojemudia came in in place of Rugamba, then was burned for 35 yards, which forced Matt Hankins into action. Mahoungou ended up catching his second touchdown in as many drives, and in two minutes of offensive time, snagging this one over Hankins.
In the third quarter alone, Mahoungou torched the secondary for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns on 5 receptions.
There were some bright spots, though, and one big one was Josey Jewell. The senior linebacker racked up 13 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, and 3 pass breakups.
No matter the individual accolades, it wasn’t the game Iowa wanted to play against a Purdue team that came into the contest with a 4-6 record.
“It’s tough. It just shows you you have to come out ready every week and any team can do anything,” Jewell said. “You just come into every week going 100 percent and try to get your best odds.”
The offense was not impressive, either. The Hawkeyes averaged an atrocious 2.2 yards per carry on the ground while throwing for only 176 yards.
After Iowa recorded a safety, the Hawkeye defense had scored the previous 16 points for Iowa, an offensive drought that started against the Badgers. After the Purdue game, the score is defense 16, offense 13.
Iowa put two touchdowns on the board, with one coming in garbage time, but it wasn’t nearly enough to compete with Purdue’s effort.
The Boilermakers came into the game with something to play for, needing to win their final two games to make a bowl game.
With the win over the Hawkeyes, all they need is to beat fellow 5-6 Indiana on Nov. 25, and they’ll be in.
“It means everything,” Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar said. “We set goals at the beginning of the season to make a bowl, and we are now giving ourselves an opportunity to do that this year, so this is huge for us and our coaches.”
The seniors on the Iowa team has been through a lot. They’ve had numerous successes, including a 12-0 regular season coupled with a Rose Bowl appearance, as well as topping top-five teams Michigan and Ohio State at home in back-to-back seasons.
The Nov. 18 loss doesn’t take away from those accomplishments, but it certainly isn’t something the team is proud of.
“It’s been a tremendous career,” wide receiver Matt VandeBerg said. “One game doesn’t define everything that our senior class was able to accomplish, but obviously, it’s got a bitter taste in our mouth that we left Kinnick that way.”