IOWA CITY, Iowa — First-year coach Jeff Brohm has Purdue’s rebuild ahead of schedule.
With a win next week against Indiana, with the Old Oaken Bucket at stake, the Boilermakers will be bowling for the first time since the 2012 season.
Sophomore Elijah Sindelar threw for 229 yards and a career-high three touchdown passes with a stiff wind at his back and Purdue beat Iowa 24-15 on Saturday to move within a game of bowl eligibility.
Anthony Mahoungou had 135 yards receiving, catching two of those Sindelar TD receptions in the opening 3:01 of the second half for the Boilermakers (5-6, 3-5 Big Ten). They won their first Big Ten road game of the year and snapped Iowa’s four-game win streak in the series.
“A big win for our program. We’ve been able to hang in there and fight through adversity. Couldn’t be prouder of our guys,” Brohm said.
Purdue took advantage of the gusty conditions by going 75 yards in just three plays to open the third quarter, a drive capped by Mahoungou’s 42-yard TD grab.
The Boilermakers then needed just three more plays to go up 21-9 on Mahoungou’s 16-yard score with 11:59 to go in the third.
Noah Fant caught a 6-yard TD for Iowa (6-5, 3-5) with 1:04 to go, but Nate Stanley’s two-point conversion toss was incomplete.
“We knew what the challenge was. The whole idea was to play better, and we didn’t do that,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of the wind.
Ferentz opted to take the wind in the second and fourth quarters, the only ones the Hawkeyes scored in. But the weather was far from the only problem for Iowa, which has lost two straight after throttling Ohio State.
Stanley had 176 yards passing for the Hawkeyes. But Stanley was sacked six times, and Iowa will finish with a losing record in the Big Ten for the first time since 2012.
“They were just ready to play more than we were,” Stanley said. “They came out and played a little harder than we did.”
Iowa: The Hawkeyes, who’ve been so good on defense all season, watched as Purdue exploited a weakness opposite of all-world cornerback Josh Jackson and attacked it relentlessly with Sindelar and Mahoungou. It didn’t matter whether it was Manny Rugamba, Michael Ojemudia or Matt Hankins — all three got torched. That, along with Iowa’s awful punting, will need to be addressed in the offseason. The Hawkeyes offense has also scored just 13 points in the past two weeks after hanging 55 on the Buckeyes.
Purdue: The Boilermakers won’t go to a prestigious bowl game even if they reach six wins. But what really matters isn’t the destination — it’s the 15 extra practices first-year coach Jeff Brohm will get as he works to make the Boilermakers a contender in the Big Ten West. Sindelar was also sharp in tough conditions on the road, which bodes well for his future in West Lafayette. “We wanted them to play loose,” Brohm said. “We just wanted them to go play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
BIGGER THAN EXPECTED?
Purdue’s Navon Mosley had an interception with 8:30 left, and Iowa fumbled away a punt two minutes later. Those takeaways proved crucial for Purdue’s cushion after Stanley led Iowa down the field for the game’s final score.
The Hawkeyes played arguably their worst game of the season on Senior Day, but senior linebacker Josey Jewell came to play. Jewell had 13 tackles, three for a loss, along with three pass breakups and two sacks. “We can still finish the season strong. We can still finish with two wins to end the season,” Jewell said. Jewell now has 418 tackles, passing Chad Greenway on Iowa’s all-time list.
Iowa opened its scoring with a safety, the 16th consecutive point scored by its defense. Jackson had two pick-sixes in last week’s 38-14 loss to Wisconsin. …Purdue had just 294 yards, but it held the Hawkeyes to 258. …Stanley found Matt VandeBerg for an 18-yard reception on fourth down to set up Iowa’s first touchdown, a 2-yard run from Akrum Wadley.
HE SAID IT
“It’s great for us because this game means something. Our backs are going to be against the wall in order to advance,” Sindelar said about next week’s game against the Hoosiers.
Iowa plays Nebraska on Friday.
Purdue hosts Indiana on Saturday.