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Five things: Iowa vs. Purdue

Nov 17, 2017

By Jeremiah Davis, The Gazette


Purdue football has been much better this year than in the last few years, but still, now is a pretty good time for Iowa to welcome the Boilermakers to Kinnick Stadium.

Amid a rebuild under Jeff Brohm, Purdue still is a little ways from being deep or consistent enough to compete at high levels of the Big Ten. While Saturday’s performance by the Hawkeyes doesn’t really suggest the Boilermakers are facing the high level of the Big Ten this weekend, Iowa’s win against Ohio State also doesn’t go away either.

All that said, here are 5 Things: Iowa vs Purdue.

1. B-1-G in the N-F-L

When a college football player you’ve invested time in – as a fan or otherwise – makes it at the highest level, pride, nostalgia and appreciation all kind of crash together. Northern Iowa fans are giddy over David Johnson. Iowa State fans paid attention to what Keleche Osemele was doing before he got paid. Iowa fans were bragging about Adrian Clayborn and C.J. Beathard on Sunday and Monday.

As Iowa welcomes Purdue on Saturday, that prompted the thought: who comes to mind first when you think of your favorite team’s players in the NFL?

Purdue has had 279 NFL draft picks, 21 of which were in the first round, but the most visible and likely the first one who comes to mind is Drew Brees. A Super Bowl champion and prolific NFL passer who holds 19 passing records, Brees helped guide the 2000 Boilermakers to the Rose Bowl. He’s the all-time leader in completion percentage, tied the record for touchdowns in a game (seven) and is 315 yards from throwing for 13 miles over the course of his career. (He’s at 68,325 yards for his career.) Maybe around here, Kyle Orton is an answer folks would give, but generally it’s probably a safe bet Brees is the answer.

But how about Iowa?

The Hawkeyes have had 250 players drafted to the NFL, with 20 of them in the first round. For me, Tim Dwight always will be the first Hawkeye I think of in the NFL. His returning the opening kickoff in the Super Bowl and my dad telling me he was a Hawkeye makes him stick out.

It seems the answer is different depending on your age or time in which you came across Iowa. Bob Sanders was a popular answer. Chad Greenway, Dallas Clark, Aaron Kampman, Micah Hyde, Bryan Bulaga, Reggie Roby and Dwight all were offered by multiple fans on Twitter. Super Bowl championships, Pro Bowls, records and longevity abound in that list of names.

Some others, and thoughts from Twitter:

Brees being the first thought as a Purdue alum is for good reason. Maybe there’s not a consensus for Iowa, but it’s a fun debate, at least.

2. We’re going streaking

When you play teams regularly, they get to know you. It’s one of the best parts of conference play. It also lends itself to one team or another not going on long streaks of winning.

It’s hard to beat any conference opponent twice in a row, let alone three, four, five or more. Still, you’d expect teams like Ohio State, Michigan or Nebraska – programs with long and successful histories – to have streaks like that. There’s a rabbit hole of a website called, which is a database that shows every college football team’s matchup history with every other team. Looking at Iowa’s matchup history with the rest of the Big Ten, it revealed the conference opponent with the longest winning streak against the Hawkeyes.


(You probably guessed that already because why else would this entry be here in a 5 Things about Purdue, but toss me an ‘Oh, wow,’ anyway if you’d be so kind.)

The Boilermakers won 20 straight against the Hawkeyes from 1961 through 1980. Not coincidentally, that’s the Dark Age between Forest Evashevski and Hayden Fry, during which Iowa went 54-124 among four head coaches. It’s an impressive streak, even with that era of Iowa football being forgettable.

The next closest is Ohio State, which won 16 straight against Iowa from 1963 through 1980 (the Dark Age again), followed by Illinois (fun fact: Evashevski never beat Illinois) and Minnesota at 12 each, from 1942-67 and 1891-1916, respectively.

3. I’ll take a Boilermaker

The Boilermakers have a pretty unique nickname. It’s not a generic animal or weather. (That’s not a dig at the Cyclones or any other team, by the way.) Given one of Purdue’s logos is a train and there’s a drink you can order at the bar called a boilermaker, it can be a little confusing, though.

Purdue got its nickname from a headline (newspapers!), and a boilermaker is a steel fabricator who works making furnaces, bridges, and other things manufactured from steel. In industrial Indiana, that’s a person and a profession many can identify with. It also works pretty well for Big Ten football in that it’s traditionally tough, blue-collar football.

A boilermaker also is a beer with a shot of whiskey, which coincidentally is what a lot of Purdue fans needed plenty of to get through the last several years of Boilermaker football.

4. Mascots? Mascots

Let’s talk about mascots for a minute. It was a cool game mode on NCAA Football, and mascots remain a hit with kids and families at various sporting events.

Purdue’s mascot, Purdue Pete, is the caricature of the aforementioned literal boilermaker and let’s be honest: his large, cartoon head is a little frightening. Seeing older versions brings to mind visions of the clown from IT, and the new one’s eyes kind of suck you in. It’s also kind of fun to see that the mascot is just a person wearing a helmet (essentially), and it offers versatility in letting the mascot dress up for different occasions.

Mascots are supposed to be a certain level of fun and absurd and Purdue Pete is far from the most absurd. And for what it’s worth, at least it doesn’t bizarrely put teeth on a bird like Herky the Hawkeye or Cy the Cyclone.

5. Against the spread

If you didn’t know better than to bet real money on the Hawkeyes before last week, whatever hit your wallet took (for those of you in Las Vegas, anyway, the rest of you this is for entertainment purposes only, remember) should be enough confirmation.

Iowa opened as a 7.5-point favorite, according to, and was an 8.5-point favorite as of Monday afternoon. The Hawkeyes are 4-1 against the spread at home and 4-5 against the spread overall this season. On the flip side, Purdue is 6-4 overall and 2-2 against the spread on the road this season.

The Boilermakers have been underdogs of more than a touchdown three times this season and are 2-1 in those games – covering plus-17 at Wisconsin and plus-25.5 against Louisville.

The over/under for Saturday’s game is 41.5 as of Monday – down from the opening number of 43.5 – which suggests bettors are aware that Purdue is down its starting quarterback, Iowa had just 66 yards of offense against Wisconsin and Saturday’s game probably won’t feature a ton of offense.

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