By Don Lund
The Hawkeyes exercised some demons Saturday in their 38-14 win at Purdue.
First of all, they became bowl-eligible with their sixth victory. It seems like they haven’t gone bowling in years even though it was just last year that they missed a bowl game.
Second, the rushing attack, which has been shut down the last couple of weeks, exploded for 318 yards (a season high and the most rushing yards since Iowa had 365 in 2002 against Minnesota).
Third, the Hawks have had trouble in the second half of the last three games. Not any more, with 24 second-half points against the Boilermakers.
Finally, Iowa has not played a complete game since their 23-7 victory over Minnesota on Sept. 28.
Last Saturday the offense, defense and special teams came through.
I actually went to Mount Vernon with my homeboys Kirk, Tim and Jeff to watch the Cornell Rams beat the Illinois College Blueboys (yes, that is their nickname) in overtime, 35-29.
I watched the first half of the Iowa game and listened to the second half on the radio. When I got home, I watched the second half on tape.
I will start with the offense this week.
How about Jordan Canzeri? He was buried in the depth chart, never complained, and when his name was called he came through big-time.
I like the way Jordan hits the hole, can make a move or spin and have a nice burst to break in the clear.
Jordan had totaled 173 yards rushing coming into the game on 29 carries.
He almost matched that with 165 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. That’s an 8.2 average per carry, plus Jordan didn’t have any negative yards.
“He’s been practicing well last spring, this summer and this fall,” said head coach Kirk Ferentz. “I think the other guys are a little bit tired right now so he gave us a nice change of pace. He ran tough and it was great to see him give us a spark.”
Damon Bullock also ran hard with 85 yards on 10 carries which comes out to an average of 8.5 yards.
How about my main man, Don Shumpert?
The 6-3, 200-pound senior from St. Louis has struggled with dropped passes early in the season.
Saturday at Purdue, Don made two of the best catches of the year, totaling 69 yards. He also recovered a Jordan Canzeri fumble in the second half that kept a drive going.
Both catches and the fumble recovery resulted in Iowa driving to score a touchdown.
Jake Rudock threw two touchdown passes and the one to Kevonte Martin-Manley, which covered 22 yards, was a thing of beauty.
Iowa had the ball on Purdue’s 22-yard-line with less than two minutes left in the half.
It was third and seven and Jake threaded the needle, finding Kevonte in the end zone between two defenders to give Iowa a 14-7 lead at half.
Jake finished 12-20 for 191 yards and two touchdown passes.
For the season, Jake has completed 59.9% of his passes for 1,916 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
You have to give credit to Iowa’s offensive line and line coach Brian Ferentz.
Brandon Scherff is the big gun but Conor Boffeli, Austin Blythe, Jordan Walsh, Brett Van Sloten and Andrew Donnal stepped up as the Hawkeyes averaged 6.1 yards on 52 attempts.
“It looked like we got a good surge out there,” said Kirk. “That was good to see. The tight ends did a good job and the backs hit the holes.”
I know the Purdue Boilermakers are not one of the best teams in the Big Ten, but they weren’t last year either, and Iowa lost on a last-second field goal, 27-24.
That was very depressing.
Last year Purdue had 26 first downs, this year 12. Last year Purdue had 211 yards rushing with a 4.8 average, this year they had 53 yards with a 1.9 average.
Last year Purdue passed for 279 yards, this year 213.
The Hawkeyes had nine tackles for a loss Saturday, including two sacks.
One of the turning points in the game came in the third quarter with Iowa leading 14-7.
Purdue had a first down on the Iowa 37. They ran the ball for an 8-yard gain but B.J. Lowery stripped the ball out, Christian Kirksey grabbed it and the Hawks would drive down for a Mark Weisman 4-yard touchdown.
Game, set, match as Iowa led 21-7.
Mike Meyer made a 28-yard field goal with a gusting wind and Connor Kornbrath punted twice, averaging 43 yards per kick.
Kevonte fumbled a punt that went sideways because of the wind, setting up Purdue’s first score.
Other than that, it was a pretty clean game.
Iowa is sitting at 6-4, 3-3 in the Big Ten with a bye week coming up. The Hawks are a little nicked up so another good time for a bye.
There were quite a few local sports writers that thought the Hawkeyes would be lucky to finish 5-7 before the season started. I wasn’t one of them, as when it comes to the Hawks my glass is always half full.
I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I still thought Iowa could possibly win seven or eight games. The Hawks finish with a home game with Michigan and a road trip to Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers knocked off the Wolverines 17-13 at Ann Arbor last Saturday… we’ll see.
The Hawkeyes are not a great team, they are a pretty good team that’s getting better.