Purdue Football 2020: Week 1 Matchup Preview – Iowa

Kick Off

3:30 PM ET


Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana (Cap. 57,236)

2019 Record

Purdue (4-8) (3-6)

Iowa (10-3) (6-3)

S&P+ Rankings

Purdue- 48

Iowa – 27

All-Time Series Wins

Purdue- 48

Iowa- 39

Ties – 3

Last Win In Series

November 3rd, 2018 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana (38-36)

October 19th, 2019 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa (26-20)

Projected Starting Lineups


QB: Aidan O’Connell

RB: Zander Horvath

LT: Grant Hermanns

LG: Cam Craig

C: Sam Garvin

RG: DJ Washington

RT: Will Bramel

WR: David Bell

WR: TJ Sheffield

WR: Amad Anderson

NT: Lorenzo Neal

DE: George Karlaftis

DE: Anthony Watts

OLB: DaMarcus Mitchell

ILB: Derrick Barnes

ILB: Jaylan Alexander

OLB: Jalen Graham

CB: Cory Trice

FS: Cam Allen

SS: Brennan Thieneman

CB: Geovonte’ Howard

K: JD Dellinger

P: Brooks Cormier

LS: Nick Zecchino

KR: Marcellus Moore

PR: Zander Horvath


2019 Stat Comparison

Offensive Points per game25.825.8
Offensive Rushing Yards Per Game83.5137.6
Offensive Passing Yards Per Game309.9228.9
Total Offensive Yards Per Game393.4366.5
Defensive Points per game30.614
Defensive Rushing Yards Per Game192.5112.8
Defensive Passing Yards Per Game243.8195.7
Total Defensive Yards Per Game436.3308.5

What to Watch For

We’re finally here folks. Despite the overwhelming odds, tomorrow came and we are here.  They’re a little bit young.  That they are. They look a little nervous.  I need all Purdue fans to report to their designated areas immediately.  

“Good Morning. 

President Thomas J. Whitmore, portrayed by actor Bill Pullman in 1996’s Independence Day

In less than a few short hours, Purdue fans online will join others around the world.  And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in Purdue football history…. Purdue football history. , those words should have new meaning for all of us today.  We cannot be consumed by moral wins anymore.  We will be united in our common goals. 

Purdue players pray in the north end zone before going to battle with Maryland in 2019. (Dave Kovich)

 Perhaps today it is fate that today is not the 4th of July but rather opening day.  We will once again be fighting for school pride.  Not from big ten powers or national powers, but from embarrassment.  We are fighting for our right to love our school openly, to be proud.  And should we win the day, opening day will no longer be known as a football holiday, but as all of Boiler Nation Declared in one voice we will not go quietly into the night.  We will not fall without a fight.  We are going to live on and we’re going to win.  TODAY WE CELEBRATE OPENING DAY!”

Jets flyover a packed Ross-Ade before the Boilers’ matchup with TCU in 2019. (Dave Kovich)

Listen folks, sometimes humor is all we have in situations like we have been living through these last 8 months.  And while it may not be the ideal scenario without fans, tailgating, a condensed schedule, hell Jeff Brohm won’t even be able to coach due to the coronavirus.  But, there is Big Ten Football on today (and last night).  I am thankful for that because it looked like this season wasn’t going to happen a few short weeks ago.  To me, instead of complaining about everything in life these last few months I am just going to enjoy the things we have already in front of us.  Because that’s all the best we really can do these days.  I am taking the same philosophy for this to the college football (and basketball) season.  To me this is all gravy.

Speaking of gravy, Rondale Moore is back in action for the Old Gold & Black this year after we once thought his career as a Boiler would end after just 17 games.  He’s back, but not just yet this week.  We have heard reports from various folks that Rondale Moore sustained an injury early in camp and that he is still easing back into action.  ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reported that Rondale would be back next week against Illinois.  Nothing to worry about folks, with the injury or Rondale deleting his social media.  One thing I think people don’t know about the agile receiver, is that he means business all the time.  He is the CEO of a company and he is going to build an empire and for him that means being careful and being business oriented 24/7.  While it’s unfortunate we will have to wait one more week for the Moore-Bell tandem, it will happen.  Folks just need some patience. 

Rondale prepares to receive a kick off against Vanderbilt in the 2019 home opener. (Dave Kovich)

Speaking of the Moore-Bell tandem, even without Rondale Moore on the field against Iowa, the Boilers still have rising sophomore David Bell as their #1 WR target.  Purdue was in a similar situation, all though it may have been because of a lack of bodies last, Purdue is bringing relatively the same offensive personnel into the game against Iowa.  In that game David Bell turned up with 197 receiving yards on 13 receptions, including 1 touchdown.  Purdue’s depth at the wide receiver position cannot be underestimated going into this game.  I’m looking to see who is going to break out and be a clear #3 receiver for Purdue on the outside opposite Bell.  WIll it be Wright? Rice? Carr? Sullivan? Anderson? The list goes on and on.  The Boilers will really launch the largest aerial assault in school history if they can, I wasn’t kidding.

David Bell breaks into a route against the Northwestern Wildcats. (Robert Shipley)

There are two big questions hanging over the offense heading into week 1 that will both become pretty evident almost immediately: can one of the three quarterbacks get the ball to the receivers and can the offensive line hold up and generate a ground attack? Doesn’t particularly matter who, but one of the three quarterbacks will have to emerge and emerge fast, there is no non-conference this season.  As for the offensive line, Purdue averaged a putrid 83.5 yards per carry in 2019.  While there are still some competitions going on, the offensive line room is as deep as it has been since Brohm arrived.  There could be some promise in the trenches.  

*Editor’s note: The Exponent has reported this morning that King Doerue is out with an injury.  Yet another blow to the Purdue offense going into this afternoon’s game against Iowa.

David Bell and Co. celebrate a touchdown in the homecoming game against Maryland in 2019. (Dave Kovich)

Iowa will be much more prepared for David Bell and Co. this season as Iowa always is soundly prepared for known factors and is typically very consistent as one of the top defenses in the nation.  Where Iowa may have some concerns going in is year on offense at the quarterback position.  After many years of QB room domination by Nate Stanley, the gunslinger is gone and riding with the Minnesota vikings, and replaced by redshirt freshman Spencer Petras, a 6’5” 230 lbs pro-style QB who was modestly recruited out of Greenbrae, California.  Petras will have plenty of weapons at his disposal as Iowa returns their top 7 receivers including Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who hauled in 44 receptions for a team leading 772 yards and 5 touchdowns last season.  Smith-Marsette is also lethal in the return game as he is THE TOP kickoff return man by yards per return in Big Ten conference history thus far.  Purdue will need to keep all eyes open on defense.

Speaking of Defense there are some new faces on the coaching staff this year along with some scheme changes.  DC Nick Holt, DL/STC  Kevin Wolthausen and DL coach Reggie Johnson are out, in comes New DC Bob Diaco, new DL coach Terrance Jamison and Special Teams Coordinator Marty Biagi.  Only Co-DC Anthony Poindexter and CB Coach Greg Brown remained with the program from last year’s team.  Bob Diaco and Anthony Poindexter go back as they were both at UCONN from 2014-2016 when the charismatic Diaco was head coach.   With Diaco comes a new defensive schematic that Purdue has been trying to build out since early spring. The 3-4 will have some minor changes but Purdue has also said they plan to run a lot of 4-3 as well.

George Karlaftis is the obvious man to look for huge impact plays on defense.  The returns of Lorenzo Neal and Anthony Watts cannot be overstated, because with those 3, Purdue has a stout front that can give defenses fits.  JuCo transfer DaMarcus Mitchell will star in the pass rush in the OLB position known as the DOG.  Can the inside linebackers be improved over last year?  They will be a big key to the success of the entire defense this season.  Cam Allen, Cory Trice and Jalen Graham will look to improve on solid freshman seasons, especially Cam Allen.  The kid from West Virginia is oozing with NFL potential at the free safety.  A big question will be how was JuCo CB Geovonte’ Howard has acclimated to playing up at the Big Ten level.  He is a fast athletic freak so don’t be surprised if he’s an apex predator on day 1.  Who will get the start at strong safety, the ever responsible Brennan Thieneman or the uber talented redshirt sophomore Marvin Grant?

George Karlaftis prepares to rush the passer against Minnesota in 2019. (Dave Kovich)

Does this even all matter?  Jeff Brohm won’t be coaching.  Rondale won’t be catching balls.  King Doerue won’t be pounding the rock.  The answer is yes it matters.  It matters, because Jeff Brohm has started to build a very strong foundational core and culture here at Purdue.  While Brohm will not be in attendance, his fingerprints will be all over the game.  The offensive scheme, designs, trick plays all come from him, just this time his brother will be calling the game.  Hey, wouldn’t be a great storyline, Purdue without Brohm, Moore and Doerue upset Iowa? It’s possible, but it feels like the table has been stacked against Purdue, but Purdue is used to playing with what’s in the cupboard.  They did it last season and they can start off the season again.  Will the young Purdue squad make the next step in the evolution of Boilermaker Football?  Let’s find out together.  

The suns shines bright on the Boilermaker Statue outside of Ross-Ade Stadium. (Dave Kovich)


Radio: Purdue Radio Network


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