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Ohio State vs. Iowa: 2022 game preview and prediction

The Buckeyes will be looking for their 28th-straight home win in Big Ten play when they host Iowa on Saturday.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 08 Iowa at Illinois Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Following a week off to recharge their batteries, Ohio State is back at work, hosting Iowa on Saturday. The Buckeyes will be looking to extend their Big Ten record home winning streak to 28 games. The last time Ohio State suffered a loss at The Horseshoe came in their final home game of the 2015 season, when they lost 17-14 to Michigan State on a miserable November day.

A score to settle

The last time Iowa and Ohio State squared off was a tough watch for Buckeye Nation, as the Hawkeyes intercepted a J.T. Barrett pass on the first play of the game and returned it for a touchdown. Iowa went on to win the game 55-24, with the 55 points being the fifth-most points that the Buckeyes have allowed in a game. The last meeting between the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes in Columbus came back in 2013, with Ohio State winning 34-24. The Buckeyes hold a 46-15-3 record all-time against the Hawkeyes.

Last time out

Prior to their bye week, Ohio State dismantled Michigan State, staying undefeated with a 49-20 win over the Spartans. The Buckeyes rolled up 614 total yards in the blowout, reaching at least 600 yards of offense under Ryan Day for the 12th time. The Columbus area code that the Buckeyes put up in the game was the ninth-highest total they have posted under Day.

Movin’ on up

Following an outstanding first half of the season, C.J. Stroud will be looking to add to his Heisman Trophy résumè in the final six games of the regular season. The quarterback is currently leading the country with 24 touchdown passes this season. After his six touchdown performance against Michigan State, Stroud was named Manning Star of the Week and the weekly winner of the Maxwell Award.

Stroud has now passed for six touchdowns three times as a starter for the Buckeyes. With his second touchdown pass against Michigan State, Stroud moved pass Justin Fields for second place all-time on Ohio State’s passing touchdown list. Heading into this week’s game, Stroud has 68 career touchdown passes. With 145 yards passing, Stroud will enter the top-five on the school’s all-time passing yardage ranking.

About to get even better

With some time to recover from a hamstring injury he suffered in the season opener against Notre Dame, Jaxon Smith-Njigba should be able to get back on the field in the second half of the regular season. Even though Smith-Njigba and Stroud formed quite a duo last year, Stroud hasn’t had trouble putting up big numbers without Smith-Njigba so far this year.

One target that has stepped up big time this year is Marvin Harrison Jr., who is leading the country with nine touchdown catches. Three of those scores came against Michigan State, allowing Harrison to make history as the only Buckeye wide receiver to score three receiving touchdowns in a game three times. The son of the NFL Hall of Fame has 31 catches for 536 yards this year.

Along with Harrison, Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming have also been great this season. Egbuka is leading the Buckeyes with 655 yards this year, reaching at least 100 yards receiving in four of six games this year. Against Michigan State, Egbuka had 143 yards receiving, which is a career-high mark for the wideout from Washington.

After missing the first two games of the season, Julian Fleming is finally starting to live up to the hype. The junior has scored in every game he has been active for this year, reaching the end zone five times in four games. Two weeks ago against the Spartans, Fleming caught four passes for 81 yards, with the yardage total setting a career-high.

Thunder and lightning

Following a five rushing touchdown performance against Rutgers, it was a bit of a surprise that Miyan Williams wasn’t active against Michigan State. It didn’t sound like the injury to Williams was anything serious, it was more of the coaching staff being cautious and giving Williams a little extra time to rest with the bye week upcoming, allowing the running back to be as close to 100 percent as possible the rest of the regular season.

With Williams on the sidelines in East Lansing, it allowed TreVeyon Henderson to remind people of just how good he is. Henderson wasn’t available the previous week against Rutgers, when Williams tied the school record for rushing touchdowns. Even though Henderson didn’t repeat Williams’ performance against Michigan State, he did rush for 118 yards and score in the win, marking the second time this year he has cracked triple digits on the ground. Henderson has rushed for 436 yards this year, which is 61 yards behind Williams for the team lead.

Mike check

So far this season there has been two stars on the Ohio State defense. Defensive tackle Michael Hall Jr. has been making a lot of noise on the interior of the defensive line as one of them. Hall is currently eighth nationally with 7.5 tackles for loss and 10th in the country with 4.5 sacks, with both of those totals leading the Big Ten. As a team, the Buckeyes have 14 sacks. Defensive ends Jack Sawyer and Javontae Jean-Baptiste both have two sacks on the season.

Halfway there

The other headliner on the Ohio State defense is linebacker Tommy Eichenberg. Through six games this year, Eichenberg is halfway to become the first Ohio State linebacker since Raekwon McMillan to reach 100 tackles in a season. Eichenberg sits second on the team with six tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 2.5 sacks. Eichenberg and Steele Chambers have teamed to give the linebacker unit some stability, which is something that has been lacking over recent years.

A mixed bag at the back

Even though Ohio State hasn’t been tested all that much through the air, there have been some times when the play in the secondary have given many cause for concern. Denzel Burke and Cam Brown have been banged up and ineffective at cornerback, but the position should get a boost as it sounds like Jordan Hancock is ready to play after dealing with an injury for the first half of the season. Luckily, the Iowa passing offense shouldn’t challenge the Buckeyes that much, which might allow the cornerbacks to gain some confidence heading into next week’s contest against Penn State.

While the corners have struggled, at least they have had some help behind them at safety. Ronnie Hickman, Tanner McCalister, and Josh Proctor all have plenty of experience, and have had strong moments so far this season. Along with the three veterans, there has been a little youthful energy at the position, as Lathan Ransom has 21 tackles and an interception so far this season. Without the quartet of safeties, it is scary to think of where the Buckeye secondary would be right now.

Iowa’s season at a glance

Iowa enters Saturday game with a 3-3 record. In their most recent contest two weeks ago, the Hawkeyes lost to Illinois 9-6. Defense hasn’t been the problem for Iowa, as so far this season the Hawkeyes have allowed just 59 points through six games, which is their lowest total since 1956 when they allowed 57 points in their first six games. The Iowa defense has allowed 10 points or fewer in five of their first six games this season. The 9.8 points per game the Hawkeyes have allowed ranks third nationally.

Points are at a premium

The biggest issue for Iowa this season has been their anemic offense. Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz has become a target for Hawkeye fans since the offense has shown little imagination. This season Iowa is averaging just 14.7 points per game and under 240 yards per contest on offense. On three occasions, the Hawkeyes have scored less than 10 points in a game, and their highest scoring output of the year is 27 points, which they reached in wins over Nevada and Rutgers.

Questionable quarterbacking

The contrast between quarterbacks in this game is amazing to look at. On one side, you have C.J. Stroud, who has thrown for over 1,700 yards and 24 touchdowns, while Iowa’s Spencer Petras has 940 yards passing and just two passing touchdowns. The fifth-year senior has shown little growth over the last three seasons, failing to complete more than 57 percent of his passes, and not throwing more than 10 touchdown passes in a season. For his career, Petras has thrown 705 passes, with 21 just touchdown tosses and 17 interceptions.

Strong bloodlines

The one receiver that Ohio State is going to have to keep a close eye on is tight end Sam LaPorta, who is coming off his second career 100-yard receiving game, as he caught nine passes for 101 yards in the loss to the Fighting Illini. His other 100-yard game came in the Citrus Bowl, when he caught seven balls for 122 yards and a touchdown in the 20-17 loss to Kentucky. Last year LaPorta caught 53 passes for 670 yards and three scores.

LaPorta has hauled in 30 passes for 279 yards this year, which is more than 100 yards clear of Luke Lachey, who has nine grabs for 157 yards and a score. Lachey is the son of former Buckeye Jim Lachey, who calls games on the Ohio State Radio Network with Paul Keels. Another Hawkeye that has a famous father is wide receiver Arland Bruce IV, who is the son of CFL standout receiver Arland Bruce III. The elder Bruce is a two-time Grey Cup champion, and amassed over 10,000 receiving yards up north.

Running scared

The lack of a passing game for the Hawkeyes might be a little easier to stomach if they had an effective running game. Unfortunately for Iowa fans, that hasn’t been the case this year. The Hawkeyes are averaging less than 100 yards per game on the ground. Leshon Williams is leading the team with 236 yards and two touchdowns, while Kaleb Johnson is just behind Williams, racking up 232 rushing yards and three scores. How bad the Iowa rushing attack has been can be illustrated by Miyan Williams falling just over 40 yards shy of reaching those numbers in the win over Rutgers.


To detail how bad Iowa’s offense is, their best weapon might be punter Tory Taylor, who ranks second in the Big Ten with an average of 46 yards per punt. Taylor has 15 punts of at least 50 yards, and has dropped 20 punts inside the 20. This marks the third straight game where the Buckeyes have faced one of the best punters in the country, as Rutgers’ Adam Korsak became an expert at keeping his kicks out of the end zone, and Michigan State punter Bryce Baringer leads the country with an average of 51.8 yards per punt.

A stout defense

The inability to produce much of anything on offense has put a ton of pressure on the Iowa defense. For the most part the defense has been up to the challenge, keeping the Hawkeyes in games. Iowa is allowing just 154 pass yards per game, which is third in the country, and 265 yards per game, which is seventh in the nation.

Ball Hawk-eyes

What the Iowa defense has done a great job at so far this year is forcing turnovers. Against Iowa State, Rutgers, and Illinois, the Hawkeyes were able to force three turnovers in each of those games. Since 2021, Iowa has intercepted 25 passes, and since 2017 they have recorded 95 interceptions, which is the most in the country. Cooper DeJean has been a ball hawking Hawkeye this year, grabbing three interceptions, which ranks second in the Big Ten. Against Rutgers, the sophomore defensive back returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown.

Along with DeJean, C.J. Stroud is going to have to be aware of where Riley Moss is on the field. After picking off at least two passes in each season since 2018, Moss has yet to intercept a pass in 2022. Of the 10 career passes that Moss has picked off, he has returned three of them for scores. While he hasn’t intercepted any passes this year, Moss has forced two fumbles and recorded 28 tackles.

Senior stoppers

Along with a strong secondary, the Hawkeyes also have a couple linebackers that always seem to be around the football. Senior linebacker Jack Campbell leads the team with 62 tackles, making at least 10 stops in four games this year. Campbell’s high mark this year came last time out, when he was credited with 13 tackles against Illinois. In the loss, Campbell also was able to recover a fumble. Even though he has had a great start to the season, Campbell has a long way to go to reach last year’s tackle total where he finished the season with 140 tackles.

Just behind Campbell is another senior. Seth Benson has 51 tackles this year and 214 stops during his time in Iowa City. Benson’s best performance of the year came against Michigan when he made 14 tackles, and like Campbell, he was able to recover a fumble against the Fighting Illini. Last year saw Benson also eclipse the 100 tackle mark, as he finished the season with 105 tackles, which he could top if he continues to make stops at the pace he did in the first half of the year, and the Hawkeyes make a bowl game.

Looking for consistency

Even though the linebackers and defensive backs have been able to make a lot of plays throughout the year, the Hawkeyes are still looking for a consistent source of pressure on the defensive line. Through six games, Iowa is averaging just over two sacks per game, recording 13 sacks. Defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness leads the team with three sacks, while Joe Evans, Deontae Craig, and Aaron Graves each have two sacks this year. The group will likely have a tough time getting to Stroud with Ohio State’s strong offensive line, as well as the short release time we have seen from the Buckeye quarterbacks on his passes.


There is really no reason this game should be close. Even though the Hawkeyes might be the best defense Ohio State has faced this year, there’s no question the Buckeye offense is the best the Hawkeyes have seen. C.J. Stroud has shown he is able to carve up tough defenses during his career. Just look what he did to Utah in the Rose Bowl, and Notre Dame in this year’s season opener.

Plus, there is a revenge factor for Ryan Day, who was a member of the Ohio State coaching staff in 2017 when the Buckeyes were embarrassed by the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. Even though almost nobody on this year’s team was on the 2017 squad, Day likely showed his team tape from the 2017 game just to get his team ready to lay a hurting on the Hawkeyes.

The scariest thing about this game, as well as the rest of the regular season, is Ohio State hasn’t really been healthy in the first half of the season. Smith-Njigba has barely played, and Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson each have missed games because of injuries they have picked up in the first half of the year. After having last week off, the Buckeyes should be rested and ready to go. Along with key players getting healthier, there isn’t quite as much wear on this team, since they have been able to be cautious with players, and some blowout games have allowed for players lower on the depth chart to see some time on the field.

Iowa also had last weekend off, but that isn’t enough time to overhaul their putrid offense. Maybe Alex Padilla sees some time if Petras is ineffective early, but with the unimaginative game plan of offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, it’s hard to imagine the Hawkeyes doing much on offense that is really going to surprise the Buckeye defense. Even if Iowa is able to get a few scores, they don’t have the firepower to be able to match what the Buckeyes should put on the scoreboard at home.

LGHL Prediction: Ohio State 55, Iowa 14