Iowa football team battles windy conditions in victory over Purdue

The Hawkeyes prevailed, 24-3, against the Boilermakers through 25 mph winds on Saturday in West Lafayette.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa Hawkeyes wide receiver Nico Ragaini (89) celebrates a touchdown with tight end Sam LaPorta (84) and running back Kaleb Johnson (2) during a football game between Iowa and Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Following Iowa football’s 24-3 win over Purdue on Saturday afternoon, tight end Sam LaPorta took multiple pauses during his postgame press conference to let the wind die down.

Standing in an interview tent — which loudly rattled under the force of 25 mph winds and 40 mph gusts — LaPorta spoke about the Hawkeyes’ second win over Purdue in the past six years in a booming voice.

The Hawkeyes took down the Boilermakers for the first time since 2019 and avenged their 2021 loss at Kinnick Stadium — which knocked Iowa out of the No. 2 spot in the country.

“It feels good to get the team that got us the last few years,” LaPorta said over the roaring wind. “We came over here in ‘20 and tried to go on a two-minute drive and win the game, and we hurt ourselves with turnovers. Last year, kind of the same thing. We just came out flat after a big win over Penn State. It feels good to get these guys.”

The forecast called for an 80 percent chance of rain and gusting winds throughout Saturday. While the Hawkeyes escaped the rain, they were still stuck with the northbound winds.

“You’ve got to be knowledgeable about the wind, be cognizant of it, but you can’t be preoccupied with it. So, I thought our guys were smart that way,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said postgame. “When they had it, they played well on defense, when they had the wind in their backs. And then, offensively, I would not have predicted all of our points would have come into the wind, but I’m really happy it did.”

Despite the wind, Iowa found its footing in the passing game in the first half as Hawkeye quarterback Spencer Petras registered 182 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air.

Senior wide receiver Nico Ragaini and LaPorta both recorded their first touchdowns of the 2022 season against Purdue, catching 29 and 16-yard passes in the end zone, respectively.

“You know, if you put a ball on the line, it’s not going to affect you as much, as long as you can cut through it,” Petras said. “Sometimes, it’ll be kind of caught up and start to flutter, but I think it made it pretty conservative in the second half.

“It makes sense because the worst thing that can happen at that point is a ball comes out, gets hit by the wind, turnover,” Petras added. “So, it definitely affected us in the second half, I think, once we got the lead. It’s just another thing to adjust to, just like rain or or field conditions, whatever it could be. I thought we adjusted well.”

The Hawkeyes severely cut down their pass attempts in the second half, as Petras went 3-of-8 for 10 yards in the final 30 minutes.

The Hawkeyes’ limited pass game opened the door for true freshman running back Kaleb Johnson, however, who became the first Hawkeye to rush for 200 yards in a single game since Akrum Wadley in 2015.

Johnson’s day was highlighted by a 75-yard rushing touchdown on the second play of the second half — the longest rush since former Hawkeye Tyler Goodson ran for an 80-yard TD against Wisconsin in 2020.

“I just saw green grass,” Johnson said. “It was all green grass for me, so I just took off and ran.”