WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Iowa's players and coaches vividly recalled the empty feeling of being home for the holidays a year ago.
With an opportunity to avoid repeating that scenario, the Hawkeyes seized the moment. Jordan Canzeri ran for a career-high 165 yards on 20 carries to help Iowa defeat the Purdue Boilermakers 38-14 and become bowl eligible on Saturday afternoon.
Iowa started last season with a 4-2 record before losing six straight to miss out on postseason play.
"We worked extremely hard, did so much on the offseason to not end up the way we were last year," Canzeri said. "We knew that if we didn't work hard today, if we lost today, we're only guaranteed two other games to get that sixth win. Now that we have this win, we can go on a positive note into this bye week."
Canzeri, a sophomore who entered the game with 173 yards rushing all season, also scored a touchdown.
"He took it and ran with it," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "I was really pleased that he gave us a nice jump out there."
Jake Rudock passed for 191 yards and two touchdowns for Iowa (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten), which set season highs for total yards (509) and yards rushing (318).
Danny Etling completed 15 of 28 passes for 145 yards, Danny Anthrop caught four passes for 83 yards and a touchdown and Akeem Hunt caught seven passes for 63 yards for Purdue (1-8, 0-5). The Boilermakers have scored 31 points in five Big Ten games, with two of the touchdowns coming in the final minute of play.
The Boilermakers have lost seven straight and have not beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision team this year.
"They all sting about the same," first-year Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said. "You would like to perform better every single week. That's the goal as the program moves forward. We just want to get some stops defensively and some plays offensively."
Early in the second quarter, Rudock found Don Shumpert down the middle of the field for 34 yards to move the Hawkeyes into Purdue territory. Eventually, Canzeri scored from the 2 to give Iowa a 7-0 lead. The touchdown capped a 90-yard drive that included a third-and-1 conversion by Mark Weisman to move the Hawkeyes to the Purdue 2-yard line.
Purdue caught its first break in a long time when Iowa's Kevonte Martin-Manley fumbled a punt and Purdue's Armstead Williams recovered at the Iowa 35.
Purdue, which had been shut out its previous two games, finally scored in the second quarter. Etling connected with Hunt for a 26-yard screen pass on third-and-6 to set up the Boilermakers at the Iowa 5-yard line. On third down, Etling found Kurt Freytag for a 2-yard touchdown pass. The extra point tied the score with 5:44 left in the second quarter.
Martin-Manley made up for his fumble with a 22-yard touchdown catch from Rudock that gave Iowa a 14-7 lead with 1:57 left in the second quarter.
Iowa gained 250 yards in the first half, yet led just 14-7. The Hawkeyes were hampered by bad field position throughout the half. Canzeri had 75 yards on 10 carries before the break.
On its second possession of the third quarter, the Boilermakers converted three first downs before Raheem Mostert fumbled and Iowa's Christian Kirksey recovered at the Iowa 29. The Hawkeyes took advantage when Weisman barreled in from 4 yards out to push their lead to 21-7 with 3:43 left in the third. It was an eight-play, 71-yard drive that included just one pass.
"I thought we got a little momentum back to move the ball back down the field and turn it over on the fumble," Hazell said. "Those are hard things to overcome for the program."
The Hawkeyes controlled the game the rest of the way.
"It's all about execution," Ferentz said. "It's not like we did any second-half drills or took any Kool-Aid pills or anything like that in the locker room. We just needed to play better."
The Hawkeyes will close the regular season at home against Michigan Nov. 23 and at Nebraska Nov. 29. After that, Iowa will have that valuable month of bowl preparation time and the kind of holiday season Ferentz prefers.
"Less than 12 months ago, we were sitting at home, and I don't know that we've had a longer holiday break," he said. "You can only sit in front of the fireplace so long, I can tell you that."