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IOWA CITY, Ia. — It was a slog at Kinnick Stadium, if nothing else. The nagging rain was a fitting backdrop.

The No. 22 Hawkeyes didn’t break out offensively the way Saturday’s lead-in presumed. Iowa was rarely torched defensively the way Purdue likes to operate. In a way, this 11 a.m. affair looked like the Hawkeyes’ last two stagnant outings.

Only difference this time: Iowa wiggled away with a win.

The Hawkeyes are finally on the board in October, snapping a two-game losing streak against Purdue with a grind-it-out, 26-20 win in front of a capacity Kinnick crowd. The lack of style points won’t please the masses, but Iowa (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten Conference) simply needed a victory.

Iowa got the win despite more offensive inconsistency. Purdue entered surrendering more than four touchdowns per game. The Hawkeyes didn’t get one until Tyler Goodson plunged in from a yard out with 7:26 left in the third quarter, handing Iowa a 16-7 lead.

Otherwise, it was lots of Keith Duncan (four field goals) and more defensive prowess. Iowa’s biggest stands came late in the fourth. After a Nate Stanley interception on a tipped pass early in the quarter, Purdue transformed the turnover into a goal-to-go opportunity. A touchdown would’ve given the Boilermakers life they hadn't yet deserved.

All Iowa’s defense did was hold Purdue to minus-1 yards on four plays. Instead of down one score, the Boilermakers kicked a short field goal to climb within nine. Two drives later, the Hawkeyes again held Purdue to three with Boilermaker momentum bubbling. That was enough to provide enough distance to scrape out a win.  

Iowa got the outcome it needed. But that’s about all it got.        

Iowa's offense looked ... a little better. But it wasn't the breakout game it could've been.

This was supposed to be the get-right game the Hawkeyes’ offense needed. Purdue’s defensive stats were staggeringly bad all-around.

Some aspects improved. Even amid more offensive line shuffling — Iowa played four different guards in the game’s first 20 minutes — the Hawkeyes yielded only one sack. The running game wasn’t stellar, but Mekhi Sargent’s late touchdown put this one away. Stanley (23-for-33, 260 yards) found enough holes for a decent stat line.

Still, the Hawkeyes’ end-zone execution remains less than stellar. Even with two trips Saturday, Iowa has failed to score a touchdown on 20 of its last 24 drives that reached opponent territory against Power Five teams. That’s a lot of settling.

On top of that, leading wide receiver Brandon Smith exited late with a right ankle injury. He hobbled to the locker room on crutches. That would be a massive loss.

So give Iowa’s offense a passing, but not sterling, grade. That’ll have to do for now.  

It was an #iahsfb day of defensive adjustments.     

On a day that included numerous defensive shufflings, an in-state flavor permeated the group hopping in.

With starting linebacker Kristian Welch sidelined, the Hawkeyes leaned on Iowa City West product Dillon Doyle and Cedar Falls alum Jack Campbell as fill-ins. Doyle made his starting debut, and Campbell officially burned his redshirt in seeing his first extensive action. There were mishap moments, but the duo didn’t have any massive letdowns.

Up front, Dowling Catholic alum John Waggoner racked up his first career tackle and sack midway through the second quarter. The redshirt freshman defensive end was part of a rotational defensive-line unit that gave the likes of A.J. Epensea and Chauncey Golston sporadic breaks.

Then there was former Ankeny Centennial standout Riley Moss, who may have saved the day in Iowa’s secondary. He entered in the third quarter for the struggling Matt Hankins and immediately snagged a crucial interception. He didn’t leave the starting lineup the rest of the way.

The Hawkeyes love to lean on their in-state base. It came up big Saturday.        

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard. 

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