For just the second time in 26 meetings, the Iowa Hawkeyes (6-3, 3-3) knocked off the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-2, 5-1); this time they beat OSU, 55-24. The completely one-sided outcome is almost certainly the worst loss for Ohio State under Urban Meyer.
Nearly nothing that the Buckeyes did, especially after halftime, worked, creating an insurmountable deficit. Perhaps still not over the euphoric highs of last week’s comeback victory over Penn State, the Buckeyes came out flat on both sides of the ball against Iowa. While the OSU offense moved the ball in the first half, uncharacteristic turnovers prevented them from keeping pace with the Iowa offense that surprisingly was practically scoring at will against the vaunted Silver Bullet defense. The game was sealed in a third quarter in which the Buckeyes were outgained by 150 yards.
With their second loss of the season, the Buckeyes are nearly certainly out of the race for the College Football National Championship, and after the shockingly sub-par performance on both sides of the ball, even if pandemonium broke out in the rankings, it is difficult to imagine OSU getting the benefit of the doubt.
In familiar fashion, the Buckeyes opened up the game putting themselves in an early hole. On the first play from scrimmage, newly enshrined (now former) Heisman front-runner J.T. Barrett threw his second interception of the season, and Iowa safety Amani Hooker returned it 30 yards for a touchdown, putting the Hawkeyes up 7-0 just eight seconds into the game.
The interception was Ohio State’s first road turnover of the season, and Barrett’s first INT in 190 pass attempts, dating back to the Week 2 loss against Oklahoma.
On the second kickoff, Mike Weber brought the ball out of the endzone, and later in the drive, made his first backfield appearance alongside freshman running back J.K. Dobbins. The pair have been splitting carries ever since Weber was deemed healthy, but haven’t been in the game at the same time until the first full drive on Saturday.
Rebounding from the turnover, Barrett marched the Buckeye offense down the field in just 2:10, evening the score at seven on a 29-yard touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin. The TD was the junior wide receiver’s fifth score of the season.
On the second play of the game for Iowa’s offense, running back Akrum Wadley broke off a 30-yard run to the right before Jordan Fuller knocked him out of bounds. From there, on consecutive plays, the OSU penalty problems continued to pop up. First, Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley drew an offsides call with a hard count, and then on the next play, Chris Worley picked up a 15-yard personal foul for an unnecessary, decleating hit on a Stanley throwaway.
Despite the Hawkeyes getting into the red-zone on the drive, the Buckeye defense held Iowa to a 30-yard field goal by Miguel Recinos to put the home team back in front, 10-7.
The subsequent drive saw a healthy dose of Dobbins, as after a pair of pitches, Dobbins picked up 35 yards, showing his speed and accelerating through a hole on the left and racing past the Iowa linebackers. Despite the athleticism that Dobbins showed on the drive, and a couple of impressive runs by Barrett, the Buckeyes couldn’t find paydirt as Binjimen Victor let a ball bounce off of his hands in the back of the endzone.
OSU was forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Sean Nuernberger, which barely snuck inside the left upright. With the FG, the score was again tied, this time at 10 with just over four and a half minutes to play in the first quarter.
Even though Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa teams have traditionally been known as bruising running teams, Stanley and the Hawkeye passing game was incredibly successful in the early going against OSU. In the first quarter, Stanley only threw for 35 yards, but completions on first down opened up their ability to run on later downs. After the first 15 minutes, Wadley had already racked up 59 yards on the ground.
On the Ohio State side, Dobbins had 47 and Barrett 45 yards on the ground in the first quarter. Barrett added 72 yards through the air. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Dobbins only picked up four more yards in the second half, as offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson nearly completely abandoned the run, especially from anyone other than Barrett.
After everyone inside Kinnick Stadium waved to the patients in the Iowa Children’s Hospital between quarters, Stanley completed two big passes, first for 20 yards to Noah Fant, then to T.J. Hockenson for a 10-yard touchdown, putting the Hawkeyes back up 17-10.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as after Weber opened the drive with four consecutive rushes for 22 yards, speedy wide receiver Johnnie Dixon got past the Iowa secondary, and Barrett dropped a dime into the endzone for a 44-yard score. With 10:22 left in the first half, the score was already tied at 17.
Few, if any, analysts expected the Iowa-Ohio State matchup to be a high scoring affair, but seven of the first eight drives all went for scores, when you include the pick-six on Barrett’s first throw.
The next drive for Iowa was the first three-and-out of the game, following two incompletions and a one-yard rush. Punter Colten Rastetter’s kick went for just 36 yards, setting the Buckeyes up at their own 43 yardline.
On the first play of the drive, Weber coughed up the ball, but lineman Michael Jordan dove on it to retain possession for the Buckeyes. On the next play, left tackle Jamarco Jones went down with an apparent leg injury as Jordan rolled up on him from behind. One play later, right guard, Demetrius Knox went down, but was able to walk off under his own power.
With two backup lineman in the game, Barrett was able to pickup a fourth down conversion just inside the 50 to extend the drive. After an incompletion, backup tackle Joshua Alabi let a blitzing Ben Niemann into the backfield untouched. Niemann hit Barrett just before he got rid of the ball, causing the second fumble of the drive. This time, it was Alabi who was able to jump on it, leading to a 3rd and 17.
Mercifully, the drive ended with Jones back in the game and Drue Chrisman punting. Thanks to a generous spot, Iowa started the next drive at their own 11. On the next drive, Stanley completed consecutive passes to Hockenson (on the same play calls) for a combined 46 yards to get into OSU territory.
As Stanley was throwing the ball away to likely force a punt, sophomore defensive end Nick Bosa unnecessarily leapt over his blocker and hit the quarterback in the helmet. Bosa was flagged for roughing the passer and ejected for targeting. He will be eligible to start against Michigan State next week.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the game was the fact that Ohio State’s oft-praised defensive line was completely man-handled by Iowa’s offensive line, even before Bosa was disqualified. The Buckeye front-four were never able to get sustained pressure on Stanley passing the ball, and the stable of Hawkeye backs had their way running the ball all game.
On the very next play, Stanley connected with Fant on a 25-yard touchdown pass to put the Hawkeyes back on top 24-17 with 3:06 remaining before halftime.
Things continued to turn sour for the Buckeyes as Barrett tried to force a pass to tightend Marcus Baugh in double coverage, and it was easily intercepted by cornerback Joshua Jackson, who returned the pick to the 22, setting the Hawkeyes up in great field position.
After a false-start, Stanley was under pressure and at the last minute slung the ball to Wadley in the flat, who picked up 21 yards to set up first-and-goal at the three. However, the Hawkeye offense didn’t need much time as the QB found Fant in the corner of the endzone to extend the lead to 31-17 with 30 seconds to go before halftime.
Without any timeouts, Barrett and the Buckeyes decided to play it safe and head into the lockerroom down 14. At the half, the story seemed to be the fact that the typically grind-it-out Iowa offense was nearly unstoppable. The Hawkeyes scored on five of their six drives (counting the pick-six), and racked up 235 yards of offense, including 162 through the air.
The performances of tightends Fant and Hockenson had been the difference. At the half, Fant had 54 yards and two TDs, and Hockenson had 56 yards with one score.
Despite being down 14 points, the Buckeye offense did have success in the first 30 minutes compiling a balanced 251 yards of offense (129 passing, 122 rushing). However, Barrett wasn’t able to continue his fourth quarter perfection from last week, going 8-15 in the first half for those 129 yards and two TDs, but had the two INTs that loomed large at the break.
The second half began in considerably better fashion than the first for the Buckeyes. After good kick coverage and an Iowa holding penalty, Stanley and company began the half from the four. The defense held Iowa to a three-and-out, and K.J. Hill downed the punt at the OSU 42, but the drive resulted in another OSU punt, turning the ball back over to Iowa at their own 10.
With the ball at the Buckeye 47, the Hawkeyes showed that they were going for it on 4th-and-2, but pooch-punted the ball into the endzone. The Buckeyes started their second drive of the half from the 20 yardline, but after a Jordan holding call, they were moved back to 1st-and-20 from the OSU 10.
Despite picking up 17, the Buckeyes punted again, flipping the field, but nearly nine minutes into the half, OSU hadn’t been able to cut into the Iowa lead, and still trailed by two touchdowns. From there, the floodgates opened.
Also hindering the Buckeyes’ ability to comeback was the never-ending series of penalty flags thrown against them. With 5:30 left in the third quarter, OSU had already picked up seven penalties for 80 yards.
A pass interference call against Worley allowed an Iowa drive to get into Buckeye territory. Then on a 4th-and-five, Iowa pulled out a trick play, where punter Rastetter completed a pass to Tyler Kluver to get down to the 3. The drive was completed as Sam Hubbard was holding onto Stanley’s ankle, but he completed a pass to Hockenson to put the Hawkeyes up 38-17 with 2:30 left in the third quarter.
With time running out for the Buckeyes to mount a comeback, Barrett had his third pass batted down at the line of scrimmage to force OSU’s third punt of the quarter.
After a 53-yard run by Iowa running back James Butler, the Hawkeyes had the ball at the OSU 2 to start the fourth, looking to all but end Ohio State’s chances at a return to the College Football Playoff, and on the first play of the quarter, Stanley connected with Drake Kulick. With the extra point, Iowa had scored 28-straight to take a 45-17 lead, and it didn’t stop there.
After looking like Superman against Penn State, Barrett was anything but a superhero against Iowa, especially in the second half. The fifth-year senior threw his third interception of the game (and fourth of the season) with 14:31 left in the game, leading to an Iowa field goal to extend the lead to 48-17.
As the Buckeyes were mounting their first promising drive of second half, Jackson soared up and hauled in a one-handed interception, his third of the game. After completing his final 16 passes a week ago, Barrett went 18-34 for just 208 yards through the air, in addition to his three scores and four picks.
With 4:42 remaining and Iowa on their own 15, for some reason, Rastetter tried to run for a first down, but was stopped by McLaurin, setting up the Buckeyes in good field position. On the first play of the next drive, Barrett completed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Dixon to break a 31-0 scoring streak by Iowa.
After a 34-yard run, Toren Young picked up another Hawkeye touchdown late to increase the lead to 55-24 in favor of Iowa.
The Buckeyes will look to rebound next Saturday, as they will host the No. 24 Michigan State Spartans at The Horseshoe at 12:00 p.m. ET.