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B1G Thoughts: Iowa gets a top-10 win, Ohio State has major issues

In what was supposed to be a boring week of football, the football gods had other plans.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Every Sunday after the Big Ten slate of games, I will be bringing you some B1G thoughts on everything that happened! This will include analysis, stats, key players, moments and maybe a joke or two. Be sure to check out the I-70 Football Show in the Land-Grant Holy Land podcast feed for more in-depth analysis and to preview the next week of B1G games.


B1G Thoughts: Week 2

Week 2 is winding to a close and compared to the rest of college football, it was a fairly tame week in the B1G. As I’m writing this, Michigan is dominating Washington, while Texas is being dominated by future SEC brethren Arkansas. Texas A&M and Notre Dame needed late touchdowns to beat unranked opponents and Miami is in a dog fight with Appalachian State.

This week was essentially “Bought Game Week” in college football, so we should have known to expect nothing but chaos. Nothing normal happens in Buy Game week.... but this is B1G Thoughts, not National Thoughts.

Initially I was going to start this column venting about OSU, but Iowa deserves the spotlight so let’s start there.


No. 10 Iowa defeats its rival No. 9 Iowa State

For the first time in the history of the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry, both teams came in ranked. Not only were they both ranked, but they were both ranked in the top 10. I had multiple people yelling at me in my mentions when I said that Iowa had a better win than Notre Dame and Cincinnati and should be ranked higher than both, but after yesterday’s 27-17 victory, I don’t think that anyone will be yelling at me this week.

Sure, I get it, its Iowa; that’s not a sexy team. Unless you’re a Steelers fan, I doubt yellow and black is your favorite color combination, BUT that doesn’t mean Iowa is not one of the top teams in the country.

After dominating two ranked teams in back-to-back weeks, it’s time to give Iowa their respect. Led by their defense, Iowa is a well-coached, hard-nosed, blue collar, Midwest football team. If you want to see guys running a 4-3 then maybe Iowa isn’t the team for you, but if you want to see a group of guys laying it all out on the field with a dominant defense tune in, Iowa might be something you enjoy.

A win is great, a ranked win is even better, but it’s a special feeling when you beat your rival and Iowa did that to extend its win streak to six straight games in the battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy.


Can you teach takeaways?

Once again, the Iowa defense led the way, and this brings up an important question: Why are some teams so good at getting take away? Depending on who you ask, some people will say takeaways are a matter of luck and not sustainable, while others will say that they can be taught.

I do not believe you can teach takeaways per se, but I do think that you can put your team in the position to capitalize when things break their way. Iowa is a very well coached team and they’re disciplined, they don’t make mistakes, and they bait their opponents into mistakes. If you make a mistake against this Iowa defense, they will not let you off the hook.

Last week, it was Riley Moss, this week it was Matt Hankins who paced Iowa with two interceptions. Unlike Week 1, there were no pick-sixes, but that didn’t matter as their offense capitalized on the short field and score 20 of their 27 points off of turnovers.

As a team, Iowa forced four total takeaways — three interceptions and a fumble. That brings their season total to seven takeaways in two games — including two pick sixes and a fumble returned for a touchdown.

If you’re counting, that’s three defensive touchdowns in two games. Who knows if they can keep this pace up, but that is a hellish start to the season and led Iowa to victories in back-to-back ranked games. If Iowa wins the Big Ten and makes the playoffs, we will look back to these games and realize we should have known this would be a special season.

Check out Iowa’s fumble returned for a touchdown:


Iowa is the best team in the B1G

I will keep this short and sweet, until Ohio State shows that they can field a competent defense, Iowa is the best team in the B1G. Sure there are questions about their offense and their quarterback play, but their defense is special and that could be enough.

We all know that Ohio State has all the talent, the two best wide receivers in the country, a litany of four and five-star players, but unlike Iowa, Ohio state has looked mortal.

I am not sure that Iowa would beat Ohio State in a game, but I know that Iowa presents the strongest challenge to the Buckeye reign we’ve seen in a long time. I’m not predicting it, but I won’t be surprised if Iowa is hoisting the B1G trophy at the end of the season.


C.J. Stroud is a superstar in the making

C.J. Stroud is QB1 at Ohio State. In the words of a certain superhero’s uncle, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Somehow, Uncle Ben forgot to mention that with great power comes ungrateful fans, undue criticism, and a weekly call for you head.

Now don’t get me wrong, Stroud is far from perfect, he gets happy feet in the pocket, he refuses to run at times, and he doesn’t always make quick decisions. Yet he still beat out two highly ranked QBs and known QB whisperer Ryan Day trusted him to run his high-flying offense.

We all know that the Buckeyes lost on Saturday and there will be more on that shortly, but for most of this game, Stroud played well. There was a stretch where he amassed over 200 yards and only had one incompletion.

Anyone still calling for his head after this game, please seek help. Stroud finished the game 35-of-54 for 484 yards. He also had three touchdowns to one interception. If I told you before the game that those would be Stroud’s stats, I’m positive you would’ve thought OSU would win in a blowout. Instead, it was for naught as OSU lost 35-28 to Oregon.

Stroud has a long way to go, he is not perfect and he makes freshman mistakes. That’s okay when you’re actually a freshman. He’s missed on passes that an Ohio State quarterback should make, but he’s also had to deal with drops that shouldn’t happen by future NFL wide receivers. If you watch the game objectively, you see tons of talent, and I don’t know about you, but I see a future superstar.


Jackson Smith-Njigba breakout performance

There are no moral victories in a loss, but OSU fans should be happy with the performance of second-year freshman wide receiver Jackson Smith-Njigba. Smith-Njigba a five-star recruit from Texas has been getting rave reviews from everyone in the program. He wasn’t targeted much last year, but he left spring camp as a lock to be OSU’s starting slot receiver with Garrett Wilson — another five-star from Texas — moving outside.

Well, in this second game as a starter, Smith-Njigba flashed that five-star talent. He ended the game 7 catches for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns. The expectation is that Chris Olave and Wilson are headed to the NFL Draft after this season, and Buckeye fans should feel safe knowing that their next first round pick is flashing early and should be WR1 next season.

Stroud and Smith-Njigba will go into next season with very high expectations as the leaders of the OSU offense. It doesn’t hurt for them to build that report now and hopefully right this sinking ship.

On 4th and 6 late in the game, OSU needed a score and went to JSN:


Ohio State defense is fundamentally broken

Okay, I held off I long as I could, I spoke highly of Iowa, I gave props to Ohio State’s young playmakers, but now it’s time to discuss this OSU “defense.” Calling this unit, a defense is honestly more than they deserve. Currently, they’re a collection of very talented players who are being held back by downright criminal coaching.

Ohio State’s defense is broken. This was not just a flukey bad game. This collection of 11 players pretending to be a defense struggles with Day 1 install. These are not young players, and they struggled with things that get taught to seven-year-olds playing tackle football for the first time. Let’s go down a list of fundamentals and you tell me which ones they excelled at on Saturday:

  1. Lining up correctly
  2. Reading your keys
  3. Setting the edge
  4. Communicating
  5. Tackling
  6. Playing to the whistle
  7. Filling run gaps
  8. Taking smart angles

I mean I could continue, but you get my drift. These are some of the best athletes in college football, but until they learn the fundamentals, they will continue giving up 500+ yards and relying on an exceptional offense to hopefully bail them out when they can’t figure out how to stop one play.

Oregon never felt pressure in this game, because they knew that no matter what, if they needed a play, all they had to do was look at Ohio State’s linebackers and they’d get at least a first down, but more than likely a touchdown.

LGHL Legend Patrick Mayhorn said it best, these linebackers have too many responsibilities and can’t just play football.


Ryan Day needs to fire his entire defensive staff... except Larry Johnson

As previously mentioned, Ohio State’s defense is fundamentally broken, and I blame that 1000% on this coaching staff. Hindsight is 2020, but hiring a 60-year-old coach who has never coordinated a defense at any level to be your defensive coordinator seems like a bad hire.

Couple that with hiring a linebackers coach solely because he grew up in towm and coached your rival, who admittedly had a bad defense, also seems like a bad idea. But Day didn’t stop there as he went for the trifecta of bad coaching hires by promoting a special team’s analyst to coach their defensive backs, you know the position that struggled the most the last few seasons.

Looking back, it seems like we should have known that this wasn’t going to work. Day is a young coach and he’s bound to make mistakes. I’m sure he reached out to his mentor Urban Meyer for suggestions on DCs and I imagine Meyer gave a glowing review of Kerry Coombs.

A lot of programs fall for the trap of hiring ex-players as soon as they get any success in coaching and after hitting a home run with Brain Hartline, I get trying to get the defensive version. Al Washington was supposed to hold down the LBs and eventually be promoted to DC, that’s the dreams. I can’t pretend to see the vision with hiring Matt Barnes though.

Day is the head coach; he made these hires. It’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s not okay to leave them uncorrected. Day must fire the majority of this coaching staff at the end of this season. There is no “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” about it. There is no “give Coombs another chance,” there is no “promote Washington,” I don’t want to hear any “promote from within.”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, ABSOLUTELY NOT. Fire everyone and start over.

Day needs to take the Ohio State money machine, back it up to the front door of the best young DC in the nation — whether that be in the college ranks or the NFL — and bring him to Columbus. He needs to give said coach FULL CONTROL of the defense. The only thing I’m okay with him mandating is that OSU plays four down lineman, because three down lineman is the worst thing in college football.

No more mandating the Seahawks’ scheme, one that only worked for them because they had three future Hall of Famers and a bunch of good to great surrounding talent. No more stubbornly running a single high cover-1 or cover-3 defenses. No more refusing to blitz, no more loyalty to older players. Just no more... fire everyone hires someone new and give him full control.

This coaching staff is not working, we should’ve known that beforehand, but hindsight is 20/20. Not firing this coaching staff will be a criminal offense. It should be illegal to grossly misuse this much talent and I, for one, am tired of it.

Oregon scored on this play three separate times. If this doesn’t make you want to fire the staff, then I don’t know what will.


Aidan Hutchinson is LEGIT

In a moment of honesty, I do not pay much attention to Michigan or their players. Like the team, most of their players are over-hyped and don’t do much in college or in the pros. I am a fan of the Indianapolis Colts, and I had no idea who former Michigan DE Kwity Paye was when Indy drafted him in the first round.

For as well as they recruit, it doesn’t seem like Michigan ever really has “a guy.” Michigan and the media tried to convince us that it was Jabril Peppers, but that was a façade. But, I’ve been hearing a lot about Aidan Hutchinson, so I was excited to watch him play.

As an Ohio State fan it hurts me to say this, but Hutchinson is legit. To make it worse, it doesn’t seem like OSU has a player like him on the roster. Anyways, I know it’s only two games, but he did not disappoint. Hutchinson finished with 4 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 1 QB hurry. However, those numbers don’t do justice to the impact he’s having. His motor never stops running. If this keeps up, he will be a first round pick. Maybe my Colts will like Paye enough to draft his running mate.

Speaking of motor, check out this sack:


B1G “Buy Week” went as planned!

Most of this week’s B1G thoughts have been focused on two teams, Iowa and Ohio State. This was on purpose — not only are they the two best teams in the B1G, but they were the only ones not playing “Buy Games.” The majority of the B1G was getting in their cheap wins and, besides Illinois who played Virginia (why would you schedule that game when the MAC exists?) everyone got an easy win.

We can forgive Illinois, because they’re not supposed to be good this year, even Purdue looked dominant against their overmatched opponent. On the I-70 podcast, I said the Big Ten might go 14-0 this week, I’m sure they would prefer an OSU victory buy 12-2 as a conference isn’t too shabby.


Next week will define the B1G as a conference

This may be cheating as this column was billed as a recap of the previous week, but nine thoughts on this slate of games is all I can manage. So, let’s look forward to next week. After Georgia’s win over Clemson, the SEC hype train has already begun laying the groundwork for their 12-1 SEC runner up to make the playoffs.

The expectation is that Alabama will win the SEC, but even if it’s Georgia, they’re hoping to get both teams into the four-team playoff. Well, it’s time for the B1G hype train to start this narrative as well. OSU has one loss, but it’s a “quality” loss and they’re still one of the most talented teams in the country.

Iowa should go into next week as a top-5 team; they have already collected two ranked wins and can expect potentially two or three more with Penn State, Wisconsin and Minnesota on its schedule.

You may be wondering where I’m going with this, well let me tell you. If 11-1 OSU faces 12-0 Iowa in the B1G Championship Game, and OSU wins, Iowa should have as good a chance as the SEC loser to make the playoffs, and I could argue better, as I doubt that Georgia will have four wins over ranked opponents under its belt.

For any of this to matter though, the B1G must showcase itself as a major conference. Unfortunately, unless you’re the SEC, you must prove yourself every year and next week is the “Prove It Week.”

The B1G is currently 2-1 in out of conference against Power 5 teams with just one ranked win. Next week, B1G teams will face the Big 12, ACC, AAC, and the SEC. Dominating this slate will go a long way to helping the narrative that the B1G deserves two teams in the playoff. I will be following these games closely:

Nebraska vs. Oklahoma
Indiana vs. Cincinnati
Michigan State vs. Miami
Minnesota vs. Colorado
Purdue vs. Notre Dame
Northwestern vs. Duke
Penn State vs. Auburn

Sure, some of these games are mismatches, Michigan State vs. Miami should be a blow out, but Miami almost lost to App State. Purdue vs. Notre Dame isn’t circled on anyone’s calendar, but Notre Dame almost lost to Florida State and needed a last-minute TD to beat Toledo, yes that Toledo team the one in the MAC.

I give Nebraska no hope verse Oklahoma, but weirder things have happened. If the B1G can go 5-7 in these games, it will create a big boost to the resume of whomever wins the B1G, and dare I say would give us some hope that two teams can make the College Football Playoffs.


Connect with me on Twitter: @jordanw330

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