Iowa football postgame mailbag: So … were the Hawkeyes overrated?

Iowa's football team has experienced the highest high and lowest low in a span of less than two weeks.

One week after their thriller over Penn State in a top-five showdown, the Hawkeyes fell flat in a 24-7 home loss to Purdue. 

What were the emotions in the locker room?

Not great, according to quarterback Spencer Petras.

"Not very good, it's not fun," Petras said. "Losing sucks. I think we all know we can play a lot better than that and have played a lot better than that. It just sucks, it's not fun." 

Purdue dominated Iowa in nearly every phase of the game. They outgained by nearly 200 yards, scored on 60% of their red zone trips compared to Iowa's 20% and had double the number of combined sacks and tackles for loss, 14 compared to seven.

The Hawkeyes will have extra time to live with Saturday's loss as the team's entering the bye week. They're next challenge is no easy feat as they'll travel to Madison for a matchup with Wisconsin. 

There's a lot to discuss and a lot of time until the next mailbag, so let's dive into your questions: 

Iowa junior quarterback Spencer Petras fires a pass in the second quarter against Purdue on Saturday.

Is Petras still the right person for QB?

Yes, the junior quarterback had a tough day with a career-high four interceptions.

And, yes, outside of Keagan Johnson's opening 38-yard reception the pass offense struggled.

But there's little evidence that a better option is on this Iowa roster. 

Head coach Kirk Ferentz echoed a vote of confidence in Petras after Saturday's loss. Without question, there were tough moments but overall the offense looked out of sync and it affected Petras' performance.

One of the main storylines of Saturday's game was Purdue's defensive front dominating Iowa's offensive line. Purdue doubled their season total in sacks (4), had six quarterback hurries and eight tackles for loss. Constant pressure made it difficult to operate. 

Onto the interceptions. I'm in no way discounting four turnovers, but most of those were more situational than outright mistakes. 

Petras' first is where he shoulders the most blame. A relatively clean pocket but a high, contested pass to Nico Ragaini that's tipped up and picked in Purdue territory. The next three, all in the last five minutes of the game, offered little risk with Iowa down so much. 

Overall, one game doesn't negate the previous twelve. Petras has shown growth since last year. The Iowa offense was bad Saturday. Petras was bad Saturday. But Petras has shown that Iowa can win with him.

It's clear after postgame comments that Ferentz nor the team has lost faith in him. There's plenty of goodwill built up there in that locker room for Petras. 

More:Leistikow's 4 thoughts: Iowa football's deflating loss to Purdue shows Jeff Brohm owns Kirk Ferentz again

What does Riley Moss add to this team? Sure seems like a lot. 

One of the biggest storylines entering Saturday's game was senior cornerback Riley Moss' absence. A leg injury kept him from today's game against a Purdue pass offense that's plagued them in the past. And they did it again Saturday. 

Purdue torched Iowa for 375 yards and top receiver David Bell surpassed 200 yards. Moss' presence was surely missed as an experienced player, the nation's leader in interceptions and Pro Football Focus' top-graded cornerback in the country. 

What Iowa missed most about Moss' game on Saturday was his combination of size an athleticism. At 6-foot-1, nearly 200 pounds with sprinter speed, Moss would've been a useful weapon against Purdue's rangy receivers. His replacement, Terry Roberts, has impressed in spurts this season and wasn't matched directly with Bell. But at 5-10 and 180 pounds, he faced a size mismatch against Purdue's Milton Wright (6-3, 195 pounds).

And on top of Moss' injury, their other starting cornerback, Matt Hankins, suffered an injury as well. On a 60-yard David Bell reception in the second quarter, Hankins was slow to get up. After the game, safety Jack Koerner stated that he believes it was Hankins' shoulder that bothered him. Hankins returned to the game shortly after but have to imagine that it hampered him for the remainder of the game. 

It's safe to say that the bye week came at the right time. 

More:Instant analysis: Question marks on Iowa football's unbeaten start were apparently well-deserved

How do they fix this offensive line?

Iowa running back Tyler Goodson (15) runs with a ball for extra yards after catching a pass as Purdue safety Marvin Grant (4) defends on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

What undid Iowa's entire offensive game plan was Purdue's performance against Iowa's offensive line. Even one of Iowa's most effective plays — the short-yardage quarterback sneak — fell flat late in the game.

This unit has been a work in progress. But Saturday was perhaps this unit's roughest outing.

"That was a great front seven," center Tyler Linderbaum said. "They gave us some challenges, just a lack of execution on our part. Games like these you just need to learn from these on film and go into the bye and get our bodies rested up and see what you can learn." 

Health limited the offensive line as regular rotation guard Cody Ince missed the game due to an undisclosed injury. Offensive line coach George Barnett made an unusual substitution when junior tackle Jack Plumb subbed in for regular right tackle starter Nick DeJong after just the second series. Perhaps that was a byproduct of the impact of Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis made early on. 

Pass protection suffered throughout but in terms of run blocking there were encouraging signs. Running back Tyler Goodson averaged nearly six yards per carry on 12 carries but as the game went on and the deficit increased, they moved away from the run. That allowed Purdue to pin their ears back, attack and make life difficult for the offense. 

What's next entering the bye? Maybe some experimentation. Coaches tried both true freshman Connor Colby and Ince at tackle during spring and fall camp. Injuries moved them inside, but extra time might lend itself to more reps for both of them at that position. 

Is Iowa overrated? 

They certainly didn't look like the nation's No. 2 team on Saturday. It's fair to pull back on the college football playoff discussions for now. 

That's not to discredit what they've done so far. Prior to Saturday's game, a case could be made for Iowa having the strongest resume in the country with three ranked wins, two against teams then ranked in the top 10. 

One game doesn't change that Iowa has a top defense in the country. Top to bottom, the offense isn't performing at the level you'd want to see but in six of seven games they've done enough to win.

We'll see how far they fall in the rankings on Sunday but strictly off of resume, the Hawkeyes still have a strong case for one of the better one-loss teams in the country. 

At this point, the focus should be on claiming the Big Ten West. But if they were to run the table the rest of the way (and Purdue still has Michigan State and Ohio State) they could be in Indianapolis with an 11-1 record with a chance to play their way into the playoffs.

A 5-0 finish means that Iowa came out of their bye week re-charged and most of these concerns have been corrected.

But right now, Iowa is good. But great? Iowa isn't on that level at the moment.  

Kennington Smith is the Iowa Hawkeyes beat writer for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at