Hawkeyes, Boilermakers face off in the clash of disappointments

BY BEN ROSS | NOVEMBER 09, 2012 6:30 AM

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Saturdays’s game in Kinnick Stadium will mark the beginning of the end of the season for two teams facing disappointment and unmet expectations.

Iowa (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten) is coming off its first three-game skid in the conference since 2010 and is below .500 for the first time since the 2007 season.

Many people picked Purdue (3-6, 0-5) as a sleeper in the crippled Legends Division. Instead, the Boilermakers have yet to win a conference game. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said they have “had some disappointment as well.”

Purdue has struggled mightily this year, even with accomplished players at quarterback in Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve. Head coach Danny Hope’s team hasn’t performed to its preseason expectations all year.

And neither have the Hawkeyes.

Many of Iowa’s problems this year can be attributed to its offense. Iowa ranks second to last in the Big Ten in total points, last in touchdowns, and is only ahead of Illinois in total yards.

The Hawkeyes have scored only 184 points on the season and have had five games in which they scored fewer than 20 points.

“It’s different things breaking down at different times,” Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg said. “Whether we miss a pass or drop a ball or don’t block a guy, it’s been a different thing in different situations. We haven’t been able to move down the field consistently and score.”

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz acknowledged the inability his team has had to score touchdowns consistently throughout this season.

“We’ve got to get in better sync,” Ferentz said.  “We’ve got to execute better in the critical situations, especially.”

Purdue’s statistical rankings aren’t much better. The Boilermakers are 11th in the conference in defense, allowing almost 420 yards per game. They don’t have anyone in the top 10 in the conference in rushing.

But they did come perhaps the closest of any team to knocking off unbeaten Ohio State on Oct. 20, falling in overtime to the Buckeyes. Ferentz said his team needed to expect that Purdue team, not the 0-5 version.

“I thought they were a dangerous team in the summertime,” Ferentz said. “That was one team I really kind of — not that I’m jumping in on the prognosticator derby, but it’s a good team. There are a lot of dynamics that happen during the course of the season internally. But all you have to do is go back to that Ohio State tape.”

Purdue would be officially eliminated from bowl eligibility with a loss to the Hawkeyes. Iowa must win at least two of its last three games in order to qualify.

Wide receiver Keenan Davis said his team isn’t going to fold in its quest to play postseason football. And, if nothing else, he and the rest of Iowa’s seniors will play for pride.

The seniors were a part of the 2010 Orange Bowl victory and have competed for a team that was once ranked in the top 10 in the nation.

The season outlook might look grim for the Hawkeyes, but the senior class isn’t ready to slow down yet.

“We’re going to go out and play our best football,” Davis said. “The season’s not over for us. We’re going to go out and play our hearts out. We’re not going to give up. That’s one thing we’ve never done in any of the games. We’ve never given up.”

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