Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz is perplexed at the success of his No. 20 Hawkeyes. He might want to take a look at his defense.
Iowa forced five turnovers and blocked two field goals to rescue a sputtering offense in the Hawkeyes’ 23-21 victory over Purdue on Saturday in Iowa City, Iowa.
“I’m just not quite sure at this point how we’re doing it,” Ferentz said.
“But we’re finding a way to get it done and that’s really all that counts.”
The Hawkeyes, hampered by a nonexistent rushing attack, built a 17-0 first-quarter lead before hanging on to win their 17th in a row at home.
Iowa’s defense, ranked 10th nationally, sacked Brandon Kirsch six times and held Purdue to 52 yards rushing.
“We are not the prettiest car on the lot,” Ferentz said.
Drew Tate, who entered the game as the Big Ten’s leading passer, threw two touchdown passes and Kyle Schlicher added three field goals as Purdue (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten) lost its fourth in a row, the first time that has happened since 1993.
The Hawkeyes (7-2, 5-1) built their lead by capitalizing on a Boilermaker botched punt and a fumble.
“We really made some rookie mistakes in the first quarter,” Purdue Coach Joe Tiller said.
“We did some things that were uncharacteristic and just kind of dug a hole for ourselves.”
Kirsch, starting in place of the injured Kyle Orton, completed 25 of 42 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns. But his two interceptions in the fourth quarter scuttled Purdue’s comeback.
Ohio State 32, Michigan State 19 -- Ted Ginn Jr. had three touchdowns -- on a run, catch and punt return -- and the Buckeyes (6-3, 3-3) rallied by scoring the last 15 points to defeat the Spartans (4-5, 3-3) at East Lansing, Mich.
Ginn caught four passes for 77 yards, including a 58-yard reception with 1:37 left. He also had a 17-yard touchdown on a reverse and scored on a 60-yard punt return. He set a school record with his third punt return for a score and tied Ohio State’s career mark.
Northwestern 14, Penn State 7 -- Noah Herron rushed for 175 yards, setting up one touchdown and scoring another, to lead the Wildcats (5-4, 2-2) past the Nittany Lions (2-7, 0-6) at State College, Pa., for their first road victory.
Penn State has lost six in a row.
Illinois 26, Indiana 22 -- Kelvin Hayden’s interception set up Jon Beutjer’s short touchdown pass with 30 seconds remaining, and the Fighting Illini (3-7, 1-6) rallied from a 19-point deficit to defeat the Hoosiers (3-6, 1-5) at Champaign, Ill., to end a 14-game conference losing streak.