It’s Charlie Jones Week at Purdue.

The wide receiver, who transferred to Purdue from Iowa during the offseason, is taking on his former team on Saturday, when the Hawkeyes visit Ross-Ade Stadium. It’s a bizarre scenario, not in that a player is facing his previous team — that happens all the time nowadays — but that Jones has become such an illustration of Iowa’s struggles.

Jones left Iowa City as a graduate transfer in late May, seeking an opportunity to become a bigger and more impactful part of an offense and thinking it could boost his chances to continue his football career in the NFL. He found such a place, he thought, at Purdue, where he reunited with former childhood pal Aidan O’Connell to become one of the most productive receivers not only in the Big Ten but in the country. Jones is 2nd in the nation in receptions (72), 6th in yards (840) and tied for 4th in touchdowns (9).

Meanwhile, Iowa’s offense has sunk toward the bottom of almost every notable ranking. The Hawkeyes are 125th (of 131 in the FBS) in scoring at 16.4 points per game, and that’s even after beating Northwestern 33-13 on Saturday. They’re 120th in both rushing and passing offense, averaging 93.5 yards on the ground and 155.1 through the air. Kirk Ferentz’s traditional, conservative offense is lacking in playmakers, hasn’t had consistent quarterback play and lacks its typically physical offensive line.

Is that all a product of Jones’s departure? No, of course not. But he sure does bring light to what’s been a maddening situation for Iowa fans to see unfold this season.

Now, Jones will get an opportunity to do what other Purdue receivers have against the Hawkeyes in recent years. Or perhaps it’ll fall to fellow Iowa transfer Tyrone Tracey, who also bolted from Iowa City to West Lafayette. Since Jeff Brohm arrived at Purdue in 2017, the Boilermakers have seemingly had an advantage against Iowa in the passing game, finding a particular matchup each year and exploiting it ad nauseam.

In a 2017 in Iowa City, it was Anthony Mahoungou who went bonkers, scoring twice on his 7 receptions for 135 yards in a 24-15 Purdue win. A year later, in a 38-36 victory in Ross-Ade, Terry Wright, who had all of 28 catches and 5 touchdowns for the entire season, caught 3 TDs on a 6-reception, 146-yard day. Iowa won the game in 2019, the only Hawkeyes victory during the 5 games between Brohm and Ferentz from ’17 to ’21.

In a nearly-empty Ross-Ade for the 2020 opener, David Bell turned in the 1st of his 2 consecutive big-time performances, posting 13 receptions for 121 yards and 3 TDs in a 24-20 win. Last season, when Purdue beat then-No. 2 Iowa 24-7 in Kinnick Stadium, Bell picked up 240 yards on 11 catches with a score.

Jones’s turn?

For Purdue, a 4.5-point favorite, the game is bigger than a chance for Jones to stick it to his former team. The Boilermakers need victories, with a 4-0 November meaning another game in December, as Purdue would be the B1G West champs and play the East winner in the league championship game. A sweep won’t be easy, especially these first 2 games, against the Hawkeyes and then Illinois in Champaign. (The schedule, lightens, with games vs. Northwestern and at Indiana in the last 2 weeks.)

Iowa could be stronger than anticipated coming off its best performance of the season Saturday, when it had 390 yards of offense and scored 33 points, the latter a season-high. But it was against the Wildcats, losers of 7 straight and perhaps one of the worst Big Ten teams in recent memory.

In the previous 3 games, all losses, Iowa had scored a total of 30.

Jones hopes he can provide more proof that he made the right move back in May, when he latched on to the Boilermakers. A win would do that.