WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Looking to make a little history on the road Saturday, game-ready Iowa took on the challenge and ran with it.
The Hawkeyes won a school-record ninth consecutive road game by overwhelming Purdue with a powerful rushing attack, piling up 365 yards on the ground and scoring the game’s first 28 points on their way to a 49-35 win at Ross-Ade Stadium.
“It was a pretty good day at the office,’’ said Akrum Wadley, who led Iowa with 170 yards on 14 carries including a 75-yard touchdown run. “When you get two guys over 100 yards like that, it means everybody is on the same page, getting it done.’’
Wadley was simply following the tone set by LeShun Daniels.
The senior took the Hawkeyes’ first handoff of the game 28 yards to open a 67-yard scoring drive and a fast start for Iowa.
Daniels finished off the drive with the first of his two touchdown runs in the opening half, scoring on a one-yard carry.
“We came out ready to go. We had a good week of practice and it carried over into the game,’’ Daniels said. “It was what we were hoping to get done.’’
From start to finish, the Hawkeyes picked apart a porous Purdue defense which has given up 1,235 yards to its first three Big Ten opponents.
Iowa collected 520 of those yards, including the rushing effort which matched the second-best yardage total the Hawkeyes have had on the ground during Kirk Ferentz’s 18 seasons.
Daniels complemented Wadley’s performance, gaining 156 yards on 24 carries including a four-yard touchdown run which left the Hawkeyes in control 28-0 with 3 minutes, 48 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
“Anytime you can get two guys over 100 yards that is a good sign,’’ Ferentz said. “The backs did a good job, but that also means a lot of guys are helping out.’’
And there wasn’t a thing the Boilermakers could do to stop it.
Playing without two of its top defenders, end Jake Replogle and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, Purdue watched Iowa average 6.2 yards every time it decided to run the ball.
“We knew all week that Iowa had a great run scheme,’’ Boilermakers defensive end Evan Panfil said. “We knew we had to win it up front. We just didn’t get off to the start that we needed to get off to.’’
The Hawkeyes converted on their first seven third-down opportunities in the game, including one on a 15-yard touchdown run by C.J. Beathard with 2:20 remaining in the first quarter.
Beathard, who completed 10-of-17 passes for 140 yards in a turnover-free game, increased Iowa’s lead to 21-0 when he hit Riley McCarron with a 42-yard touchdown pass with :09 left in the quarter.
“It was the type of start we wanted to get off to,’’ Beathard said. “We haven’t always started as fast as we want to, but we came out and played the way we wanted to right from the start this week.’’
Iowa’s defense, which limited Purdue to 42 rushing yards but surrendered 458 through the air on 30-of-60 passing by David Blough, positioned the Hawkeyes to extend their early lead by forcing three-and-outs by the Boilermakers on three straight possessions late in the first quarter and early in the second.
“We did our job, came out and put the ball back in the hands of the offense,’’ cornerback Desmond King said. “The first half, we took control.’’
Boilermakers coach Darrell Hazell said his team’s start against Iowa couldn’t have been much worse.
“They ran the ball early and we couldn’t stop them,’’ Hazell said. “We felt like one of the keys for us on defense was to stop those big runs and obviously, that did not happen.’’
Iowa ran 13 plays which went for 12 yards or more in the game, all but two coming in the first half as the Hawkeyes (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) built a 35-7 halftime lead.
That included a 75-yard touchdown run by Wadley with 1:18 left in the second quarter, answering the first of five touchdown passes in the game by Blough.
“We came right back at them,’’ Wadley said. “We took control of this game in the first half, the way we wanted to, and when they scored, we answered the way we needed to answer.’’
Purdue (3-3, 1-2) outscored the Hawkeyes 28-14 after the break and the Boilermakers didn’t go quietly.
Ferentz pulled many of his starters after Noah Fant grabbed a five-yard touchdown pass to send Iowa into the final quarter with a 42-14 lead.
But, two touchdown passes by Blough brought the starters back onto the field midway through the fourth quarter and King sealed the win by returned his first interception of the season 41 yards for a score with 1:44 to play.
“They didn’t go away, but we knew they wouldn’t,’’ King said. “We came back and finished it off.’’