The Iowa Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-1) came calling to Columbus Ohio to take on the Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0), and they came with a fight in them. Both teams traded body blows on the way to a 34-24 final score. Braxton Miller led the way with his passing game, throwing 22-27 for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns while running 18 times for 102 yards. His counterpart, Jake Rudock, connected on 19-34 for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns with an interception.
The real difference was in the running game, as Carlos Hyde again put together a powerful performance. His 24 carries for 149 yards was a continuation of his great game in Northwestern. To it he added the first two running touchdowns scored against Iowa this season. In the passing game, Devin Smith and Corey “Philly” Brown each scored a touchdown and put up 72 yards a piece. Iowa’s key playmakers included RB Damon Bullock (10 carries, 55 yards), RB Mark Weisman (10 carries, 52 yards), and TE Jake Duzey (6 receptions, 138 yards, 1 touchdown).
Starting with the ball first, the Hawkeyes struck fast. They followed excellent blocking through the first few plays, gaining most of their yardage on the ground against the #6 rushing defense in the nation. Once the Buckeyes were forced to commit against the run, they began to strike in the usual soft spot in the zone on the left side. Ultimately, Iowa dinked and dunked their way to the endzone, taking everything the Buckeyes were giving them all the way to a touchdown.
The defense, despite having had a bye week to work on their weaknesses, looked particularly unable to counter what Iowa was throwing at them early. The linebackers, already a weak spot in the defense, looked out of position most of the drive. The secondary continued to give up intermediate yardage plays without a fight. It was obvious Iowa had studied the game film and new that all they needed was to get solid blocks against OSU’s line. After that, everything else would take care of itself.
OSU wasn’t the only team with a great run defense, but the Buckeyes didn’t appear too worried about it. The Buckeyes came out an excecuted their offense their way. Both Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller found plenty of running room and, along with a solid short passing game, worked the Buckeyes down to the 10 yard line with little difficulty. Iowa’s defense stiffened at the last minute and knocked down a sure touchdown pass at the line, forcing the Buckeyes to take the field goal.
The Hawkeyes managed to answer the OSU score with a field goal of their own. The Iowa offense continued to have little trouble moving the ball, but it was also helped by the officials. On a passing play, Bradley Roby led with his shoulder in a hit on an Iowa tight end. While doing it his helmet impacted with the helmet of the ball-carrier. The refs ruled it targeting and upheld it on review, ejecting him from the game. The OSU defense worked up some fight following the call and finally succeeded in stopping the Iowa offense.
I will not debate whether or not the call on Bradley Roby was the right one. Roby made contact with the helmet, and given the nature of the rules it was no surprise that he was ejected. Do not be surprised if the Big Ten Conference office upholds the call as the right one. I do think this is a great case where the targeting rule needs to be reevaluated, especially since the flag was not thrown until well after the player was determined to be injured on the field (and possibly only after Roby celebrated the hit). It was not thrown when the contact was made. This, and many other similar calls, tells me that there is clearly too much left up to interpretation for any form of objective call on the field.
The offense was ready to make their case in this game. After a couple short yardage plays, Braxton Miller used an extremely effective play fake. Corey Brown got behind the defense, which bit on the fake, and found himself with enough space to build a small house. He caught the pass and ran it in for the 58 yard touchdown strike. The quick score knotted the game up at 10 after Drew Basil’s automatic extra point.
Iowa’s offense took a number of lessons learned from the Wisconsin and Northwestern games. They came out with a blocking scheme devoted to slowing down the OSU D-Line. Using a three tight end set, that gave them enough blockers in the running game to gain some yardage, and a few receivers if they went to the passing game. This was to make up for the fact that Iowa’s receiving corps doesn’t have a player of the quality of Wisconsin’s Abbrederis. The tactic worked to perfection as QB Jake Rudock was able to find recievers in the flat or on the screen. Add to that the excellent blocking from the Iowa line and you have a recipe for a solid day against the Buckeye’s defense.
The first offense to fail to score was unfortunately the Buckeyes. The Iowa defense forced fourth down inside field goal range, and Urban Meyer chose to go for it. Miller managed to evade the pressure and make the first down with his feet, but a poor decision by Corey Philly Brown caused off-setting penalties that forced the Buckeyes to retry the down. On the retry, Miller attempted to hit Evan Spencer in the endzone in double coverage, and the ball was ripped from his grasp before he hit the ground. Like the Iowa defense before it, the Buckeye defense also stood tall and finally got a stop at the very end of the half, forcing a punt and allowing the Buckeyes to knee out the half.
Out of the gates Ohio State attacked quickly with a four-headed rushing monster of Miller, Carlos Hyde, Jordan Hall, and Dontre Wilson. Iowa’s defense struggled to contain the ground game, giving up big chunks both up the middle and around the edges. It culminated in the first rushing touchdown of the season against the Iowa defense plowed in from the 1 yard line by Carlos Hyde. That play was set up by a short pass to the right side to Jeff Heuerman for a 4 yard gain.
Despite allowing some yardage, the Buckeye defense was able to force a stop and a punt from Iowa’s defense for the second time in a row. In response, the offense continued their methodical play in trucking the ball down the field. Continuing to feed the Iowa defense a steady dose of Hyde and Miller runs, they worked their way from deep in their own territory down to the Iowa 14. Miller then connected with Devin Smith on a screen pass that Smith zipped into the endzone for the first OSU lead of the game.
After two straight stops by the Buckeye defense, the momentum was definitely on the side of hte Scarlet and Gray. But the Iowa offense struck quickly. After a huge holding penalty set them back deep in their own territory, Rudock found TE Jake Duzey for an 85 yard touchdown strike that saw Duzey outrun the Buckeye secondary to the endzone. It was yet a further example of the Hawkeyes using their tight ends effectively. Credit Rudock for hitting Duzey in stride just after he got behind the coverage.
Two great plays by Miller and Hyde answered the Hawkeyes with an exclaimation point. After driving the football into field goal range, Miller attempted to throw on third and seven. Finding no open receivers, he reversed the field and found just enough blockers to gain the first down. On the very next play, not wanting to let Miller have the entire limelight, Hyde took the carry at the 19 yard line headed to the right. He found a seam and ran forward for the first down, but got caught by the last defender. He managed to squirm out from the tackle, but nearly lost his balance and wobbled backwards for several yards before straightening himself out at the 10 and diving into the endzone at the goalline before Iowa could get there. It was a score born of talent and experience, and is just another sign of just how good Hyde is.
Iowa was unable to answer on the following drive, and were forced to give the ball back to the Buckeyes who hadn’t punted at all the entire game. That trend continued as Miller managed to extend the drive with his feet on several occasions. Despite feeding the Hawkeyes a steady diet of Carlos Hyde on the drive, Iowa was able to slow down the OSU offensive attack enough to force a field goal inside the red zone. Giving up only three points and going down 10 with six minutes left was a significant victory for the Hawkeyes in that situation, and kept them in a position to get back into the game.
They weren’t able to capitalize on it. Despite starting their drive well, Jake Rubock made the first critical mistake of the game when he threw an ill-advised pass on third down that was intercepted. The interception was drawn in by Buckeye Bloggers Network favorite Tyvis Powell, who’s play may have helped cement himself a place in the regular starting lineup.
With the ball and only 5 minutes left in the game, Urban sent his offense out to kill the clock. They continued to run Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller forcing Kirk Ferentz to spend his timeouts. The Buckeyes were eventually able to knee the football and run out the clock, sealing the victory.
Regarding the National Championship talk, which was in full go in the commentary in today’s game, there’s frankly no point in caring. The only things that Buckeye fans, and the team especially, should be worried about is what they can take care of from week to week. Neither the team nor the fans can control the national media or the voters. The team can control their play on the field and whether or not they win their football games. Worry about the things that are within the team’s control and enjoy the season as it comes.
Next up for the Buckeyes are the Penn State Nittany Lions in Columbus, Ohio on October 26th. You’ll be able to see that game at 8:00 PM Eastern Time on ABC.