By Adam Hensley and Pat Lynch
Make all the jokes you want, but Purdue football is on the rise. Last season, the Boilermakers smacked Missouri (given that 2017 was a down year, the Tigers are an SEC team nonetheless) and capped off its season with a 38-35 win over Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl.
Purdue finished 7-6 last season under head coach Jeff Brohm. He turned Western Kentucky into a team competing on a national level in just three seasons as head coach. In 2016 (his final season), Brohm’s Hilltopper squad finished 10-3. The season before, Western Kentucky finished 12-2 and was ranked 24th in the final Associated Press poll.
Brohm has the pieces for an improved 2018 campaign with options at quarterback in David Blough and Elijah Sindelar. Blough had the better quarterback rating of the two last season (137.8), but Sindelar led the team in yards (2,099) and touchdowns (18).
At running back, DJ Knox cranked out nearly 700 yards from scrimmage in 2017 and also scored four times.
On defense, the Boilermakers return Markus Bailey, an outside linebacker who did just about everything in 2017. He totaled 89 tackles, with 11 for a loss, garnered 7 sacks, forced and recovered a fumble, intercepted a pass, and defended two.
I’d also like to point out that last year, Purdue beat Iowa in Kinnick (not saying Hawkeye fans have forgotten this, however). This season’s matchup is in West Lafayette.
There’s a very solid chance that Iowa takes this game on the road. But don’t underestimate Purdue on Nov. 3.
— Adam Hensley
This season for Hawkeye football, its strength of schedule seemingly favors more wins than in previous seasons. The Hawkeyes, naturally, will try to improve on their 8-5 record from last season. This year’s schedule features a few games in which Iowa can win big or have a significant loss that can hang an indelible blot on the season.
In the second home game of the year, the Hawkeyes will take on their biggest rival, Iowa State. This is one of the games the Hawkeyes could potentially lose.
In the past three meetings, the Hawkeyes have won by a combined 56 points, but the Cyclones always seem to put up a competitive fight. For both teams, it’s the biggest rivalry of year, and it’s for bragging rights in the state.
Iowa is one of many states in America without a professional football team, which makes the stakes even higher. Fans grow up cheering for their beloved Hawkeyes or Cyclones, adding more energy and hate for both teams. The winner of the game each year claims the Cy-Hawk Trophy dating back to 1977. It’s the biggest game in the state each year.
Because the Iowa is the home team this year and Iowa State is coming off an overtime loss last fall in Ames, it should be extra motivation for Cyclones to steal a win on the road. It’ll be key for both teams to get an early season win.
Kinnick should be electric with fans ready to see what happens Sept. 8.
— Pat Lynch