On Saturday, No. 4/3 Ohio State defeated Iowa, 34-24, in front of 105,264 mostly Scarlet-clad fans at Ohio Stadium.
But the Buckeyes needed to make a statement playing against an unranked team. The Hawkeyes came to Columbus with a 4-2 overall record that included three wins over Missouri State, Iowa State and Western Michigan that were a combined 2-17.
Entering the game, Ohio State was a 17-point favorite. Easy win, right? Needless to say nobody told that to the Hawkeyes.
Iowa jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on the first possession of the game as the Hawkeyes marched 80 yards in 12 plays capped off on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Jake Rudock to C.J. Fiedorowicz with 9:23 left in the first quarter.
The Buckeyes, meanwhile, didn’t take its first lead until the 3:15 mark of the third quarter.
On Ohio State’s first chance with the pigskin, the Buckeyes needed 12 plays to go 65 yards, but the drive stalled at the Iowa 10 yard line and OSU settled for a 27-yard field goal by Drew Basil.
With just seven seconds left on the clock, Mike Meyer connected on a 28-yard field goal to put the Hawkeyes up 10-3 at the end of the first period.
Both teams traded touchdown passes early in the second quarter. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller found Philly Brown wide-open for a 58-yard TD pass that tied the game at 10-all. On Iowa’s next possession, Rudock found Kevonte Martin-Manley all alone in the end zone to give the Hawkeyes another 7-point advantage.
Neither offense did much else later in the frame and Iowa headed to the locker room leading 17-10 at intermission.
At halftime, Iowa held an edge is every major statistical category including offensive plays (43-25), rushing attempts (21-15), rushing yards (101-79), passing attempts (22-10), passing yards (121-110), total offense (222-189), first downs (17-9), third down conversions (Iowa 7-9, OSU 2-4) and time of possession (18:50-11:55).
Ohio State’s offense couldn’t finish while the defense had trouble getting off the field.
Then the Buckeyes got their collective
shit stuff together in the second half, scoring touchdowns on three-straight possessions.
To start the third quarter, Ohio State went 75 yards in 13 plays which resulted in a 1-yard TD run by Carlos Hyde as he just managed to get the ball across the goal line over the pile.
After forcing the Hawkeyes to punt before the Iowa offense crossed midfield, the Buckeyes started the next drive at their own 16.
It took Ohio State four minutes and 46 seconds to hit paydirt, needing 11 snaps to cover the 84 yards as Miller tossed a screen pass to Devin Smith in the right flat who then raced 14 yards for the score.
Just when you think Ohio State had seize control of the game, tight end Jake Duzey ran a wheel route down the far-sideline and outran the Buckeye secondary as a perfectly thrown ball from Rudock resulted in an 85-yard touchdown pass that tied the game again, this time at 24-all with 2:30 left third quarter.
Fortunately, Ohio State answered with a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive as Hyde became a human pinball on an 11-yard TD run with 11:34 to play that gave the Buckeyes the lead for good.
From there, Ohio State’s defense forced Iowa to punt and forced a turnover. In between, Basil added a 25-yard field goal for the final points of the contest.
Let’s take a look at the…
Ohio State rolled up 495 yards of total offense with 273 rushing, 222 passing and 30 first downs.
Braxton Miller was 22-of-27 passing for 22 yards with two touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Carlos Hyde had 149 yards rushing on 24 carries and two touchdowns.
Miller spread the ball around as four receivers had at least three receptions.
Once again, Ohio State’s defense made an average-at-best quarterback look like the second coming of Joe Montana. Sophomore Jake Rudock, who had to beat out two others for the starting job during preseason camp, was 19-of-34 passing for 245 yards and three touchdowns.
More ugliness by the Ohio State defense: The unit registered just one tackle for loss and not one single sack against Iowa.
I have yet to figure out why head coach Urban Meyer uses a no-huddle offense when it seems that everyone stands around and it takes forever for a play to be called and the ball snapped.
The offense has gotten way too conservative in the last three weeks. Against Iowa, the Buckeyes ran 78 offensive snaps with 49 runs and 29 passes. On first down, the play-calling was rather balanced (19 runs, 17 passes), but for any other situation it wasn’t (30 runs, 12 passes). Since the return of Miller and Hyde, Ohio State has slowed down the tempo and relied on a power running attack. When Kenny Guiton and Jordan Hall were in the starting lineup, the offense was more wide-open.
Now I’m not saying that Guiton and Hall are better players, I just think the play-calling was better. Regardless, though, both players deserve more playing time. Hall should see the field a lot more often, while Guiton should play a couple of series.
Next, the defense is not very good. When you have defensive backs playing 10-plus yards off the line of scrimmage without jamming the wideouts, those receivers end up running free into the secondary. After that, Ohio State’s DB’s seem to lose track of those receivers. Plus, the Buckeyes can’t get consistent pressure on the quarterback, which leads to opposing offenses having an easy time throwing the ball.
Next Saturday, Penn State visits Ohio Stadium for a prime-time match-up against Ohio State on ABC. The Nittany Lions featured one of the top quarterbacks in the Big Ten with freshman Christian Hackenberg, who leads the conference averaging 278.8 yards per game passing. Penn State also features one of the top wide receivers in the nation with junior Allen Robinson. One thing is for sure, as head coach Bill O’Brien is watching game film on Ohio State’s defense, he has to be salivating. Though the Nittany Lions try to have a balanced offense mixing the run with the pass, Hackenberg has attempted at least 44 passes and has thrown for more than 300 yards in Penn State’s two Big Ten games.
Ohio State has five games left and are currently ranked No. 4 in the latest BCS standings. There’s no room for error. Things have to get better in a hurry if the Buckeyes want to play for a national championship at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Jan 6, and not the Rose Bowl game six days earlier.