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Ohio State's wheels fall off in blowout loss to Iowa


NCAA Football: Ohio State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Why are you reading this? You must be a real sicko, or maybe an Iowa fan (but I repeat myself), to want to read any kind of analysis of the drubbing Ohio State just took. Better that it should be torn into pieces, lit on fire, and buried behind the woodshed than dragged out into the light of day.

Still here? Fine. But reader, you have been warned: this article does not get any happier as you scroll.

At various points this week, writers at Land-Grant Holy Land have discussed Iowa QB Nate Stanley's outstanding precision and decision-making, the potential for CB Josh Jackson to give J.T. Barrett fits, the enormous look-ahead + hangover trap game vibe this contest had, and the ways Ohio State's secondary might struggle against Iowa's pro-style offense. Boy, does it suck being right.

Any one of those factors by itself wouldn't have mattered much. But all of them came true, creating a perfect storm of problems for the Ohio State Buckeyes, one which Iowa capitalized on again and again as they rolled to a 31-point victory over the nation's No. 6 team.

Who in the world was responsible for that?

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Johnnie Dixon, WR: Dixon looked like one of the only Buckeyes who actually came to play on Saturday, and even he had a hard time getting open in the middle 40 minutes of the game. He finished the day with a pair of TDs (a beautiful catch for six up the seam on J.T. Barrett's best throw of the day), with four total catches going for 81 yards.

Otherwise, all the game balls go to the Hawkeyes' stars. Nate Stanley, Akrum Wadley, T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, Josh Jackson, Josey Jewell—the list really goes on for awhile. They deserve the column inches and all the credit in the world for their performance on Saturday.

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Damon Webb, DB: Webb was everywhere on Saturday, getting in on tackles again and again and standing stout as the last line of defense on a few huge plays that would have been even bigger had Webb not saved them. He was one of the lone bright spots on a defensive unit that just laid the biggest egg in Urban Meyer's Ohio State tenure.

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J.T. Barrett, QB: I hate this part of the column because it always feels unnecessarily harsh, even when guys have played pretty badly. But soldier on we must. Barrett looked awful for first time in two months, a gorgeous 44-yard TD pass to Johnnie Dixon notwithstanding; after throwing just one interception all year, he coughed the ball up to the Hawkeyes four different times on Saturday. The first came on the game's first play from scrimmage and was taken back to the house for six. Subtract those INTs and it's a respectable-if-uninspiring stat line; add them in and you have one of Barrett's worst days in four seasons as Ohio State's QB.

Dante Booker, LB: Booker isn't the only member of the Buckeye defense to deserve blame, but his performance epitomized what the whole unit was doing all afternoon: getting beat to the edge in pass coverage, making poor reads, and requiring multiple teammates to bring down ball carriers. Booker was personally responsible for two Hawkeye scores that he had no business giving up. The star LB has been excellent all season, and it hurt to see him getting beat so badly.

Jordan Fuller, DB: Lest we heap too much responsibility for the defense's matador performance on Booker, you can scroll back up to the picture for this article to see what kind of day Jordan Fuller and the secondary had against a surgical Nate Stanley and his receiving corps. Stanley threw for 226 yards and five TDs while completing 65% of his passes. Oof.


SELL: The Big Ten's chances at a playoff spot. This might feel different in the sober light of morning, but right now, it feels like Wisconsin will finish the regular season undefeated and then get handed a loss by Ohio State, Michigan State, or (increasingly less likely) Penn State. There's still plenty of possible shakeups on the horizon, but all other things being equal, that would probably squeeze the Big Ten out of the CFP.

BUY: Nick Bosa's ejection being the right call. I was angry at first—that might be the first time I've ever seen "roughing the passer" called on a play where the QB didn't even stumble after the hit, much less fall down—but enough replays showed Bosa leading with his helmet and leaving his feet that I don't see how they could've called it any other way. It was the exact kind of stupid, self-defeating crap that has made this team feel like it's been flying too close to the sun all season long. We went crashing into the sea today.