Iowa tries to break out of scoring funk vs. Purdue

MICHAEL MAROT (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Purdue coach Darrell Hazell understands what Iowa's Kirk Ferentz is going through.

Both have dealt with struggling offenses, bogged down ground games and a paucity of points this season.

In Hazell's case, it's been downright ugly. But Ferentz has more at stake this weekend against the reeling Boilermakers. Win and the Hawkeyes (5-4, 2-3 Big Ten) are bowl-eligible. Lose, and they'll have to beat either Michigan at home or Nebraska on the road to get that critical sixth win.

It's not a predicament that concerns Ferentz or his team.

''All we're worried about is winning this week, which would be six, and to become bowl eligible is certainly a plus compared to a year ago,'' Ferentz said, a reference to missing out on the 2012 postseason for the first time in 12 years. ''It certainly would be a great outcome for us if we can get that done.''

Iowa hasn't been itself lately, scoring just 19 points and one touchdown in their last eight quarters of regulation.

Last week's struggles were partially because starting quarterback Jake Rudock was knocked out of the Wisconsin game with a sprained left knee. Rudock's backup, C.J. Beathard, went 4 of 16 for 70 yards with one interception, resulting in a 28-9 loss to Wisconsin.

The good news is that Iowa expects Rudock to start Saturday The Hawkeyes are hoping that Rudock, even at less than 100 percent, can get them out of this scoring funk in time to extend Purdue's losing streak to seven for the first time since 1993.

''I think he'll be sore maybe,'' Ferentz said. ''But I think everybody is going to be good to go.''

Iowa might not need much more than nine points to win at Purdue (1-7, 0-3), which has continued to struggle even after changing quarterbacks in late September. The Boilermakers haven't scored since Oct. 12, haven't won since Sept. 7 and still haven't beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision foe since last November.

And with four games remaining, Hazell is running out of time and options. On Tuesday, Hazell said he doesn't anticipate making many, if any, personnel moves the rest of this season. He's just hoping that leads to improvement rather than more of the same.

Here are five more things to watch Saturday:

BREAKING BAD: The Boilermakers hope to avoid another dubious distinction in this already bad season - just by scoring this week. After getting shut out by Michigan State and Ohio State, the first time that's happened in back-to-back games since 1953, the Boilers hope to avoid a third straight shutout for the first time in more than seven decades. The last time it happened: A four-game span at the end of the 1941 season.

BOWLING 300: A win Saturday would give Ferentz one more milestone at Iowa - the school's 300th win in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes head into Saturday's game with a 299-362-25 all-time mark against league foes.

CODE RED: As if six straight losses, the worst home loss in school history and tying Purdue's record for most lopsided loss anywhere (56 points) weren't enough, here are two more mind-blowing stats. Miami (Ohio) and Florida International are the only FBS schools scoring fewer points than Purdue (11.5). Worse yet, the Boilers haven't even been inside an opponents' red zone since Sept. 28. Now that's tough.

NO RUSH: Iowa's defense has come big against rushing teams, holding eight opponents below their season average. It may be hard for the Hawkeyes to do that this week with Purdue averaging only 70.0 yards per game on the ground. By the way, Iowa has only allowed four rushing scores - tied for the third-lowest total in FBS.

MILITARY APPRECIATION DAY: The Boilers are taking a few moments to thank America's military forces Saturday. But the significance of the day will have greater significance for Hazell, who coached two seasons at Army under Bob Sutton, now the Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator. Hazell said his father, Daniel, fought in the Korean War, and his brother, cousins and uncles all served in the military, too.

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