Ohio State welcomes the Iowa Hawkeyes into Ohio Stadium for the first time since the 2013 season. Ohio State and Iowa were supposed to play in 2020, but the game was eliminated when The Big Ten went through its on/off/back on but with tweaks schedule. The last time the two teams met was in 2017, and we take you now to a visual reminder of how that went for the Buckeyes in Iowa City.
My podcast partner Michael Citro and I welcomed Adam Jacobi of GoIowaAwesome.com on our latest Silver Bullets Podcast to preview the upcoming match-up. While Ohio State is a prohibitive favorite (Ohio State -30), there are some specific players and schemes that I will be keeping an eye on as this game kicks off on FOX at 12pm EST.
Below are Three Things To Watch from the Iowa Hawkeyes...
- Ohio State’s offensive line vs. Iowa’s defensive line
Ohio State fans have become accustomed to any/all of the 2022 wide receivers (Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming) having a good game against whichever team they are playing that particular week. Even Adam Jacobi acknowledged that Iowa, a team with a strong defense, has not yet played against a team that is as dynamic or explosive as Ohio State. Something that is key to the success of any good passing game is having a strong offensive line to protect the quarterback, and Ohio State’s offensive line has done a tremendous job so far this season in protecting C.J. Stroud.
A player Adam mentioned on our podcast has me intrigued — Iowa DL Lukas Van Ness. Nicknamed “The Van Ness Monster” (catchy, isn’t it?), Van Ness is listed at 6-foot-5, 269 pounds, and has three sacks, which leads the Hawkeyes in that specific defensive category. No matter where Van Ness lines up for the Hawkeyes, I will be watching to see how the Ohio State offensive line handles his pass rushing abilities.
2. Iowa’s tight ends vs. Ohio State’s secondary
In 2017, Iowa repeatedly and mercilessly attacked the Ohio State defense with their tight ends. Granted, Ohio State has a completely different defensive staff than in 2017, but Iowa is still a tight end-oriented offense, with Sam LaPorta (30 receptions for 279 yards) and Luke Lachey (9 receptions for 157 yards, 1 TD). Both could pose match-up problems for the Ohio State defense, and I am curious as to how Ronnie Hickman may be deployed to combat either/both of these tight ends that Iowa will certainly use in their offensive game plan.
I am especially intrigued by how Lachey will play against the Buckeyes, considering he grew up an Ohio State fan, but did not receive a coveted scholarship offer.
3. The role of special teams
It is no secret that Iowa has struggled offensively, ranking 131st out of 131 teams in total offense. One of the key elements in keeping the Hawkeyes competitive this season has been the play of their special teams units. With two blocked punts this season, look out against the Hawkeyes if Ohio State finds themselves in a punting situation. A blocked punt, or fumble recovery of a muffed punt, could provide the sudden change and boost of momentum that could keep Iowa in the game.
Ohio State is among the nation’s leaders in total offense, while Iowa is among the nation’s leaders in total defense. Something’s gotta give.
Ohio State will present more offensive challenges than Iowa’s defense will be able to handle. There may be some frustrating aspects to the game for Ohio State fans, as Iowa’s defensive coordinator Phil Parker is one of the best in the country, but look for the Buckeyes to pull away in the second half for a convincing victory. I have it Ohio State 35, Iowa 10.