Iowaby Adam Jacobi
Braxton Miller is still there at QB for Ohio State, and he is going to do Braxton Miller Things and they are going to make you want to punch whatever's in arm's reach. Do not punch the loved ones or pets. In fact only sturdy, inanimate objects, please. Miller has made fools of better defenders than Iowa's, after all, and he's probably going to do it again a few times on Saturday.
That's not to say that we're expecting a 300-yard passing, 200-yard rushing performance from Miller, though. Iowa's linebackers are fast and disciplined enough that containing Miller is a plausible task... most of the time. But every now and then, Braxton will rip off a play that reminds you why he's one of the best in the nation, and all you can do is shrug and hope it wasn't a touchdown, then get right back to it. So it goes with a dynamic QB facing your team.
And lastly, you need to know that this is a 17-point spread according to Vegas, but this game could plausibly go about 28 points in either direction. An Iowa win is not impossible; if the weather stays crummy and windy throughout the afternoon, as appears to be the case now, Ohio State won't be able to victimize Iowa through the air as easily--and when we're talking about an Iowa defense for whom nine of its 11 allowed touchdowns came on pass plays over 20 yards, anything that slows an opposing air attack is good news. Both teams will likely be playing a lot of ogreball on Saturday, and while Ohio State probably beats Iowa on that front, at least it's a game being played more or less on Iowa's terms.
If Ohio State can throw reliably, however, look out; Iowa's secondary is thin at corner and slow in back, so playmakers like Devin Smith and Corey Brown could easily have a field day for the Buckeyes--and I don't even want to think about Dontre Wilson and what happens if he gets into the open field against Iowa's back four.
But this could be a close game! A win may be too much to ask, but with any luck it'll be four quarters of tension, and barring a 90-point win, that's pretty much all you can ask for.Originally appeared at Black Heart Gold Pants
Ohio Stateby Chris Kopech
The Ohio State Buckeyes welcome the Iowa Hawkeyes to the Horseshoe on Saturday, the Buckeyes' first game since back-to-back-to-back wins over ranked Wisconsin, ranked Northwestern, and upstart program BYE WEEK. So far, the Buckeyes are unscathed through their first six games for the second consecutive season.
Even with extremely high expectations going into Urban Meyer's second year as head coach, the script was supposed to be easy: Braxton Miller was a Heisman darling at the beginning of the year, and Kenny Guiton was only going to see the field in garbage time. Bradley Roby was supposed to shore up a top-10 draft pick as a shutdown corner. Jordan Hall was supposed to come back from an injury-plagued 2012 and possibly become the first 1,000 yard back Meyer has ever coached.
After six games, that script needs a pretty drastic rewrite.
Instead, this Buckeye team is one that has a few more questions than answers, and, again, while it has not been the shakiest of rides thus far, Ohio State has already dropped from a national #2 ranking, with a course set for Alabama in the final BCS Championship Game ever, to sitting behind other undefeated teams, hoping for and needing some luck along the way to make that dream of playing for a national title a reality.
Luckily for the Buckeyes, the Hawkeyes have almost always provided an able target for righting the ship.
Ohio State has taken 11 of the last 12 meetings against Iowa, including the last three in a row. They also have the benefit of Meyer's 34-2 record overall coaching record when given more than a week to prepare for an opponent, including his time at Bowing Green, Utah and Florida. This certainly bodes well for the Buckeyes, coming off of the aforementioned bye week. That rest will also hopefully serve to mend some injuries in the starting lineup, particularly to Jordan Hall, who has been nursing a "tweaked knee" that limited him to just one carry against Wisconsin, and no playing time against Northwestern.
Those are big factors for the Buckeyes, but the key factor may be the type of start the quick-strike Buckeyes get out to on Saturday. Ohio State is the highest scoring offense in the conference (46.8 ppg), and have outscored their opposition 126-28 in the first quarter of games this year. Iowa is primarily a running team, much like Wisconsin, and if the Buckeyes can get off to a fast start, it will force Iowa to go to the air to win, which might end up as the difference, with Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock already throwing six interceptions against just eight touchdowns through the air.
Where Iowa can do damage is on the ground. Mark Weisman (624 total yards, 3 TDs) and Rudock (4.5 ypc, 5 TDs) pose the biggest threats in the Iowa run game. Pro-style running games aren't that bad on the Buckeyes (see: the Wisconsin game) but throwing a few wrinkles into that game, like having a quarterback that can be mobile when necessary, can be a struggle (see: the Northwestern game). Containing the Iowa rushing attack will probably be the difference between a close game in the 'Shoe and a comfortable victory for Ohio State.