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Nate Stanley: ‘Finishing everything we do’ pivotal as Iowa offense looks to shake funk Dargan Southard, msouthard@gannett.com

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First, the bad news: Iowa has painted itself into a major corner. Big-stage losses in back-to-back weeks, accompanied by lackluster performances on offense, has the fan base's confidence shaken.

The silver lining: Because both of those defeats were to Big Ten Conference East Division foes, the No. 22 Hawkeyes are still mostly in control of their West Division fate ... if they win out.

A tall order for Iowa (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten), to be sure. But doable. It all begins with Saturday's 11 a.m., ESPN2-televised contest against Purdue (2-4, 1-2), which is banged-up and inexperienced (the Boilermakers sport 18 underclassmen as starters or co-starters on their depth chart) and just plain poor on defense.

So don't forget the past two weeks, but look forward to the next six games. This is where the rubber starts to meet the road.

Here are the projected starters for the game:

OFFENSE

Quarterback: No. 4, Nate Stanley (6-foot-4, 243 pounds, senior)

Running back: No. 10, Mekhi Sargent (5-11, 223, junior)

Tight end: No. 39, Nate Wieting (6-4, 250, sr.)

Fullback: No. 36, Brady Ross (6-0, 246, sr.)

► MAILBAG:Does Iowa's offense lack creativity?

Wide receiver: No. 12, Brandon Smith (6-2, 218, jr.)

Wide receiver: No. 6, Ihmir Smith-Marsette (6-1, 183, jr.)

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Kirk Ferentz hits on several angles of his offensive line that allowed 10 sacks and was held to 71 rushing yards in losses to Michigan and Penn State. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central

Left tackle: No. 77, Alaric Jackson (6-6, 320, jr.)

Left guard: No. 68, Landan Paulsen (6-5, 305, sr.)

Center: No. 65, Tyler Linderbaum (6-3, 286, freshman)

Right guard: No. 71, Mark Kallenberger (6-5, 291, sophomore)

Right tackle: No. 74, Tristan Wirfs (6-5, 322, jr.)

► LEISTIKOW'S PREDICTION:5 big numbers Iowa must reach Saturday

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DEFENSE

Defensive end: No. 57, Chauncey Golston (6-5, 270, jr.)

Defensive end: No. 94, A.J. Epenesa (6-6, 280, jr.)

Defensive tackle: No. 95, Cedrick Lattimore (6-3, 295, sr.)

Defensive tackle: No. 91, Brady Reiff (6-3, 277, sr.)

► WHAT'S THE SCHEME?Discussing defense's approach this week with assistant defensive coordinator Seth Wallace

Weak-side linebacker: No. 32, Djimon Colbert (6-1, 235, soph.)

Middle linebacker: No. 34, Kristian Welch (6-3, 239, sr.)

Leo/Cash: No. 49, Nick Niemann (6-4, 235, jr.)

Strong safety: No. 9, Geno Stone (5-10, 210, jr.)

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Free safety: No. 28, Jack Koerner (6-0, 204, soph.)

Cornerback: No. 11, Michael Ojemudia (6-1, 200, sr.)

Cornerback: No. 8, Matt Hankins (6-0, 185, jr.)

► BRACING FOR BIG SHOTS:Iowa prepares for Purdue's aerial-based attack

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker: No. 10, Caleb Shudak (5-8, 180, jr.) OR No. 3, Keith Duncan (5-10, 180, jr.)

Punter: No. 22, Michael Sleep-Dalton (6-0, 212, sr.)

Kickoff returns: No. 6, Ihmir Smith-Marsette (6-1, 183, jr.)

Punt returns: No. 89, Nico Ragaini (6-0, 192, fr.)

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Iowa safety Geno Stone believes if Purdue keeps throwing the football Saturday, the secondary must come up with an interception. Hear what he says: Mark Emmert, memmert@gannett.com

PURDUE PROJECTED STARTERS

OFFENSE

Quarterback: No. 13, Jack Plummer (6-5, 220, fr.) OR No. 16, Aidan O'Connell (6-3, 210, soph.)

Running back: No. 22, King Doerue (5-10, 210, fr.)

Tight end: No. 89, Brycen Hopkins (6-5, 245, sr.)

Wide receiver: No. 3, David Bell (6-2, 210, fr.)

Wide receiver: No. 33, Jackson Anthrop (5-11, 190, jr.)

Wide receiver: No. 10, Amad Anderson (5-11, 175, fr.)

Left tackle: No. 78, Grant Hermanns (6-7, 295, jr.)

Left guard: No. 76, Mark Stickford (6-5, 295, soph.)

Center: No. 72, Sam Garvin (6-3, 295, soph.)

Right guard: No. 79, Matt McCann (6-6, 205, sr.)

Right tackle: No. 74, Eric Miller (6-7, 295, fr.) OR No. 70, Will Bramel (6-6, 295, fr.)

DEFENSE

Defensive end: No. 55, Derrick Barnes (6-1, 245, jr.)

Defensive end: No. 5, George Karlaftis (6-4, 265, fr.)

Defensive tackle: No. 98, Kai Higgins (6-4, 260, sr.)

Defensive tackle: No. 90, Lawrence Johnson (6-3, 300, fr.)

Linebacker: No. 36, Jaylan Alexander (6-1, 235, soph.)

Linebacker: No. 44, Ben Holt (5-11, 225, sr.)

Outside linebacker: No. 6, Jalen Graham (6-3, 215, fr.)

Free safety: No. 27, Navon Mosley (6-0, 200, sr.)

Strong safety: No. 38, Brennan Thieneman (6-1, 210, jr.)

Cornerback: No. 23, Cory Trice (6-3, 215, fr.)

Cornerback: No. 1, Dedrick Mackey (5-11, 185, soph.) OR No. 2, Kenneth Major (6-0, 195, soph.)

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker: No. 85, J.D. Dellinger (6-2, 195, jr.)

Punter: No. 19, Brooks Cormier (6-5, 215, fr.) OR No. 38, Zac Collins (6-0, 195, soph.)

Kickoff and punt returns: No. 33, Jackson Anthrop (5-11, 190, jr.)

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Nate Wieting details how Iowa is currently handling its offensive struggles. Dargan Southard, msouthard@gannett.com

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