The Big Ten West Division appears completely wide open yet again and a big game from the West is this Saturday as Purdue visits Iowa with both at 1-1 in Big Ten play and the loser not in good shape to contend for the West title. The #Hawkeyes are 2.5-point favorites even though they will be without starting QB Cade McNamara not just this week but likely for the season and Deacon Hill taking over.
McNamara, a transfer from Michigan, left the field on a cart with his knee wrapped in the first half of Saturday night’s 26-16 win over Michigan State. He was injured while scrambling out of the end zone and falling awkwardly at the Iowa 2-yard line, and there are multiple reports that the injury is season ending. McNamara finishes with 505 passing yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 51.1 percent of his attempts.
Hill joined Iowa this spring as a transfer from Wisconsin. He was redshirted there in 2021 and played in one contest in 2022 but had no passing attempts. The 6-foot-3 258-pounder hadn’t seen significant action since his senior year of high school, which was only three games long due to COVID. In relief of McNamara, Hill was 11-for-27 for 115 yards with a TD and pick. This will be only his sixth time taking the field in an NCAA game.
Even with McNamara taking most of the snaps this year, the Hawkeyes are worst in the Big Ten in yards per game (240.8, 65 per game behind 13th), passing yards (133.8), first downs (13), third-down conversions (27.7%) and time of possession (26 minutes, 40 seconds).
Iowa trailed a bad Spartans team 16-13 with about five minutes left but Drew Stevens connected on his third field goal of the game to tie the game at 16-16. After the Iowa defense forced a three and out Cooper DeJean broke the tie returning a punt for a 70-yard touchdown. Stevens put the game away with a 34-yard field goal with 59 seconds remaining. Defensively, it was Iowa’s 19th consecutive game not giving up 400 yards which is the longest active streak in the FBS.
Saturday is Homecoming in Iowa City and Iowa has won 10 of its last 13 Homecoming games and is 17-6 6 on Homecoming under head coach Kirk Ferentz. Saturday’s game is also the 1,300th in school history since beginning football in 1889. The Hawkeyes won in West Lafayette, 24-3, in 2022. It was Iowa’s largest margin of victory in the series since 2013.
Purdue played its Homecoming this past Saturday and stomped Illinois 44-9. The Boilermakers outscored the Illini 28-6 in the second half to win their fourth straight in the series and keep the Cannon Trophy. Hudson Card was an efficient 18-of-26 for 217 yards and two scores. Despite better numbers defensively against Illinois, #BoilerUp allows 29.6 points, 398.2 yards, 240.8 passing yards and 22.2 first downs per game (all 13th in the Big Ten).