I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man that had no feet. — 13th Century Persian poet Sa’di
So I took his shoes. I mean, it wasn’t as if he was going to need them. — Anonymous smart aleck
That’s the introduction for Iowa-Purdue Week. The Hawkeyes may be down and deflated after their 28-9 loss to Wisconsin Saturday. It was a chance to beat a nationally ranked team. It was a loss that erased any hope of catching Michigan State in the Legends Division standings.
But at least Iowa isn’t Purdue, and there’s no earthly (or supernatural) reason the Hawkeyes should lose to the Boilermakers Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Spare us your shouts of “Jinx!” and enjoy some enlightenment. Lean on facts, not superstitions.
Fact: The 2013 Boilermakers could be the worst team of the last 10 years, and maybe longer than that.
Facts: Saturday, Purdue lost at home to Ohio State, 56-0. That was the most point the Boilermakers had ever given up at home. The previous-high was 55, set by Northern Illinois … three games earlier!
Facts: Purdue hasn’t scored in its last eight quarters. It has been outscored in its four Big Ten games by a total of 155-17.
Fact: The Boilermakers would be winless were it not for their 20-14 victory over FCS Indiana State, and it took an interception with 19 seconds left to preserve that triumph.
Facts: The total yards from Saturday’s game: Ohio State 640, Purdue 116. The most yards the Boilers have amassed in a conference game is 226.
We’ll get nothing but cautious, serious words and expressions out of Iowa’s camp this week, and with good reason. One, it’s only civilized to do so. Two, Iowa can take no one lightly, not even featherweights. Three, the Hawkeyes are licking their own wounds.
But this has to be a victory for Iowa, a sixth win that helps get them to Jacksonville or Tempe or Houston or somewhere other than their living rooms for bowl season like last year. It has to be. Let’s say it again, in no uncertain terms: It has to be.
Were this Indiana, a team that scores on everybody while getting scored upon by everybody, it wouldn’t be prudent to assume an Iowa win. Were this Illinois, a team with an 18-game losing streak in the league but one that played Penn State to overtime Saturday in Happy Valley, it wouldn’t be prudent to assume an Iowa win.
However, this isn’t the Purdue team that won at Iowa last year and sneaked into the Heart of Dallas Bowl with a 6-6 record. This isn’t the Purdue team that beat Ohio State in West Lafayette on the Buckeyes’ two previous visits.
Facts: This is a team starting a first-year freshman quarterback, Danny Etling, who has been sacked 19 times over his four starts and hasn’t taken a snap in the red zone in his last three games.
Facts: This is a team that has given up five touchdowns and a safety to opposing defenses.
Fact: This is a team that has been shut out in consecutive games for the first time in 60 years.
The Hawkeyes are unlikely to show up at Ross-Ade with plenty of their own footwear. But if they should forget to bring shoes, they can simply take Purdue’s. The Boilermakers aren’t using them.