IOWA CITY — With less than a month left in the 2013 college football regular season, Iowa’s offense is starting to look more and more like the 2012 version.
That’s not a good thing for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa (5-4, 2-3 Big Ten) has taken a big step backward of late. The Hawkeyes have scored just 19 points — with one touchdown and four field goals — over their past two games in regulation. They’re now tied for 11th in the Big Ten at 25.3 points a game heading into Saturday’s game at Purdue (1-7, 0-4).
The rushing game, which was among the nation’s best in September, is now averaging a pedestrian 4.3 yards a carry. The passing game isn’t much better, with just 205 yards a game and 12 TDs against 10 interceptions.
Iowa remains just a game shy of returning to bowl eligibility after winning just four games and scoring less than 20 points a game last season.
Still, the regression of the offense in the face of tougher competition is a troubling trend.
“We just need to finish in the red zone. We can’t settle just for three points. We have to go get touchdowns,” Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock said. “We need to have that not take no for an answer and understand that, hey, we need to get in the end zone.”
The passing game hasn’t done enough to make opponents back off from stopping the Hawkeyes’ running backs. Rudock has had his moments, most notably when he threw for three touchdowns in a close loss at No. 4 Ohio State. But he’s also averaging an interception a game.
Rudock sprained his knee in the second half of last week’s 28-9 loss to Wisconsin, but he’s expected to start against the Boilermakers.
“In a perfect world, we like to be balanced, and sometimes you’ve got to throw it better to get the running game going. They work both ways,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.