IOWA CITY, Iowa — Every week, it's a one-game season for Purdue football. Coming off a bye, the Boilermakers faced the challenge of taking the field at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday against the No. 2 Hawkeyes.
But on the back of 11 catches and a career-high 240 yards receiving from junior wide receiver David Bell, Purdue dominated in a 24-7 upset on the road. What was a raucous crowd last Saturday against Penn State instead was heading for the exits early.
In three games against Iowa during his college career, Bell has amassed 37 catches, 558 yards and five touchdowns.
“I think the reason he's been able to explode is because he's one of the best receivers in the country, and he shows that each and every week,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said of Bell after the game. He's a competitor, he wants to showcase what he could do against every opponent we have. We have great opponents, and he knows that if he does it, great things are gonna happen for him down the line.
“He's just very unselfish and a great teammate, so we're lucky and fortunate to have him on our team. He chose to come here and to showcase what he's all about, and we're trying like heck to help him do that, but he does all the work.”
The Hawkeyes entered the matchup with 16 interceptions on the season, which led all Big Ten programs. However, their ball-hawking secondary was unable to get hands on the football against the Boilermakers. Fifth-year senior quarterback Aidan O’Connell had ample time to deliver accurate throws from the pocket all afternoon.
O’Connell was sacked just one time while completing 30 of his 40 passes for 375 yards and two touchdowns, including one to Bell.
“I'm excited to watch the film, I was camping back there for a lot of plays,” O’Connell said. “Obviously, our playmakers do their thing, but those guys on the offensive line, they're what starts and finishes drives and everything in the middle, too. Can't do anything without them.”
On its second drive of the game, Purdue struck first as O’Connell scurried into the end zone from six yards out. He capped off a 10-play, 67-yard drive that featured three different Boilermaker quarterbacks seeing the field.
Even after Iowa responded with a touchdown of its own, Purdue would never trail. O’Connell orchestrated a 75-yard drive that ended with a three-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver TJ Sheffield with 19 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The Boilermakers took a 14-7 halftime lead and never looked back. The Hawkeyes were shut out in the second half and only mustered 86 yards of total offense in that span.
Purdue extended its lead with a 31-yard field goal on its opening drive of the third quarter. The team controlled the clock to prevent Iowa from clawing its way back into the game, accumulating nearly 35 minutes in time of possession.
Bell, who took advantage of soft coverage throughout the game, put the exclamation point on his performance with a 21-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. He sold an inside route to his defender and raced to the right corner of the end zone to make the grab.
After taking a 24-7 lead, Iowa turned the ball over on downs deep in Purdue territory and quarterback Spencer Petras threw three interceptions on three straight drives to end the game, propelling Purdue to 4-2 (2-1 in the Big Ten).
For Bell, his outstanding game was just another day at the office. He wasn’t aware of his stat total until his mother informed him after the game. The 240 total receiving yards set a Kinnick Stadium record and ranks second in program history for a single game.
“I was just going out there trying to make plays and just trying to find any way to be the No. 2 team in the country,” Bell said.
- PURDUE, IOWA LIVE BLOG: The Purdue Boilermakers were back in action Saturday following a bye week, facing off against the No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes on the road at Kinnick Stadium. CLICK HERE