(MCT) — This is the “Down and Out” Bowl.
The winner of Saturday’s game between Iowa and Purdue will snap a losing streak, that’s the bright light here. For the Hawkeyes (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten), it’s been three games, with last week’s 24-21 decision at Indiana still ringing in their ears.
Purdue, believe it or not, has had it worse.
The Boilermakers (3-6, 0-5) have lost five straight since beating Marshall on Sept. 29. It’s the Boilers’ longest Big Ten losing streak since 2005. During this stretch, coach Danny Hope’s team has lost three home games by a collective score of 116-26. Hope fired his defensive coordinator last season and the Boilers still have allowed 500-plus yards in three games this season.
“We now have a one-game season and have to win against Iowa,” senior defensive tackle Bruce Gaston said. “We’re disappointed at where we are, but we can still finish strong.”
That’s true. Purdue finishes with Iowa (4-5), Illinois (2-7) and rival Indiana (4-5). If it wins all three, it can bowl. It also might be able to save Hope’s job.
Last week, Purdue athletics director Morgan Burke issued a statement on the program without mentioning Hope’s name.
“Everyone around our football program has high expectations for the 2012 season,” Burke said. “We have worked very hard over the past four years to improve our personnel, facilities and every phase of our program, which is evident. Our student-athletes, alumni, fans, coaching staff and administration all expect to see the program move forward and take a step up the postseason ladder.
“Currently, our performance has kept us from reaching our goals. But we have a third of the season left to play, and our focus is to achieve that consistency over the remaining four games. We need to press forward, converting potential into results and having fun playing Boilermaker football.”
Hope, 19-27 in four seasons, has been here before. Just last December, Burke issued a statement on the team and then signed Hope to a two-year extension. He’s guaranteed to earn a minimum of $950,000 in 2012.
“Obviously you want to be aware to stop any negative momentum or any downward spiral, but you hope that you surrounded yourself with the right coaches and players that can do something besides just being ordinary when you’re going through tough times. This is a time for extraordinary people, not ordinary people,” Hope said. “I believe we have enough extraordinary people around us to still manufacture a good season. There is still a lot to be played for or to play for.”
In the here and now for Purdue, which has lost 11 of their last 12 in Iowa City and is winless since 1992, quarterback Robert Marve started and completed 22 of 39 for 138 yards. Marve suffered the third torn ACL of his career in week 2 against Notre Dame and is still trying to make a go of it.
He didn’t finish the game, giving into Caleb TerBush, who completed 10 of 20 for 155 yards and a TD. Rob Henry also threw two passes. Purdue QBs took 10 hits and were sacked once.
“Obviously we’re making a change at the quarterback position based on competition,” Hope said before the Penn State game. “There never has been a quarterback controversy. It has been a management nightmare from an injury standpoint for the guys to get the reps that they needed.
“It had been competition all along. [Saturday] there was competition, and Robert competed and played better.”
If Purdue loses, there will be no bowl and maybe a new coach for the Boilers. If the Hawkeyes lose, they will need to sweep at Michigan and Nebraska, the Legends Division leader, to qualify for a bowl.
There will be some drama in Kinnick. Not championship drama, but bowl desperation, if that does it for you.