Iowa’s recent second-half statistics were astounding entering Saturday’s game, especially for a team that wants to run first, second and third. But after the 38-14 at Purdue, they were simply sterling.
The Hawkeyes had rushed for a combined 140 rushing yards after halftime in the last four weeks. Saturday, the Hawkeyes pounded the Boilermakers for 178 yards rushing in the second half. More impressively, the Hawkeyes totaled 318 yards on the ground, the most for Iowa in a Big Ten game since battering Minnesota for 356 back in 2002. Coincidentally, former Gophers Coach Glen Mason, who coached against Iowa that year, called the game Saturday for BTN.
“Before the game we said we’re going to have a great day running and a great day passing,” Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock said. “You just have to have the confidence going into the game. The offensive line answered the call. We challenged them saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to run it at them, you guys plow the way.’”
As expected, Iowa’s offensive linemen were unimpressed with their performance.
“Who knows? We could have hit a home run on a couple of them if we would have blocked it right,” Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff said.
BY THE NUMBERS
12 — Bowl-eligible seasons for Iowa in Kirk Ferentz’s 15 seasons as head coach
28 — Iowa first downs, tying the fourth-most under Ferentz
38 — Iowa’s points, the program’s high at a Big Ten opponent since 2010 at Michigan
300 — All-time Big Ten wins for Iowa
318 — Rushing yards by Iowa, the most since slamming Florida for 328 in the 2004 Outback Bowl
B-plus — Purdue is the Big Ten’s “get well” card this season.
– Marc Morehouse
A minus – There were 45 games Saturday involving FBS teams, and this was definitely one of them.
– Mike Hlas
A-minus –Iowa ran for six times as many yards as it allowed. That’s usually a winning formula.
– Scott Dochterman
Iowa RB Jordan Canzeri. The 5-foot-10 sophomore gashed through Purdue’s defense for 165 yards on 20 carries, an 8.2 yard-per-carry average. He entered the game with 173 yards this season.
“He likes to hit the hole and he likes to shift a little bit and find the hole sideways and he’ll get vertical there and he’s not afraid of contact,” Scherff said. “You all saw that. We love blocking for him.”
Canzeri started at running back in the 2011 Insight Bowl but suffered a torn ACL in March 2012 and sat out that season. He played sparingly in 2013 before breaking out with a 43-yard run against Wisconsin last week. Canzeri entered the game on Iowa’s second series Saturday and didn’t look back.
“That’s generally something that I’ve been waiting for, and I’m happy that I was able to do what I did for my team,” Canzeri said. “We just all had a great team effort today and everybody played great. It was just really good to see.”
Iowa tied up Purdue’s running game all four quarters but was especially stout in the second half.
The Boilermakers rushed 28 times for 53 yards, but were held to 18 yards on 11 carries after halftime. Part of the improvement stemmed from Iowa sliding its defensive ends out at a wider angle. Part of it was just pure nastiness.
“I thought we played really well in the second half,” Iowa linebacker James Morris said. “In the first half they were doing some things that were a little different, that were giving us a few fits. But for the most part we got that shored up and played pretty well throughout.”
The victory gave Iowa its sixth victory and lifted the Hawkeyes to bowl eligibility for the 12th time in the last 13 years. Unlike 2007 when Iowa was shut out of the bowl mix, this year’s group is certain to go bowling.
“That’s not our end game, but that’s certainly one nice byproduct of winning (Saturday),” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “That’s not something we take for granted. It’s great to get that accomplished.”
The likely landing spots are anything from Houston’s Texas Bowl (6-6 finish) to Jacksonville’s Gator Bowl (7-5). If Iowa wins out, the Hawkeyes could end up in the Outback Bowl.
“We’ve talked about how we can make the 2013 season special and we’ve got an opportunity to do that,” Scherff said.
“The more games you win, the more special the season is,” Morris said.
For the first time in more than a month, no bowl official attended an Iowa game.
Courtesy of college football’s quirky schedule, Iowa will pick up its second idle date next week. It comes at a perfect time for the Hawkeyes, players and coaches agree.
“I don’t think there’s ever a bad time for a break,” Morris said. “But it’s good because we can sort of collect our thoughts and get healthy and focus our thoughts on Michigan and after that game, Nebraska.
Morris did have one lament about the bye week, however.
“We practice a little bit, but we do a lot of conditioning,” he said.
Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, cornerback B.J. Lowery and linebacker Anthony Hitchens did not return after leaving the game with injuries on Saturday. But Ferentz said all three are likely to play in two weeks when Iowa plays host to Michigan.
Iowa’s win narrows Purdue’s lead in the series to 46-35-3. It was Iowa’s most lopsided win against Purdue at West Lafayette since a 40-3 win in 1984.
It was the final time the schools met as protected cross-divisional foes as part of the Big Ten’s Legends and Leaders divisions. Next year the schools compete in the Big Ten’s West Division and they open league play against one another on Sept. 27, 2014 at Ross-Ade Stadium.
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