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Buckeyes Buckeye Archive Preview: Iowa at Ohio State
Written by Dan Wismar

Dan Wismar

- Saturday, October 19, 2013

- Ohio Stadium - Columbus, Ohio

- Iowa at Ohio State

- 3:30 p.m. ET

- TV: ABC -

OSU Iowa2The second half of the regular season begins Saturday as the 6-0 Buckeyes host the Iowa Hawkeyes for Homecoming in Columbus. Ohio State comes off a bye week and into a stretch of five straight games against some of the lesser lights of the Big Ten before they head to Ann Arbor (okay, six straight).  OSU Is meeting the Hawkeyes for the first time since 2010, and has won 13 of the last 14 contests between these programs.

Next comes the obligatory weekly line about Ohio State’s winning streak under Urban Meyer, now at 18 straight, as the nation’s longest. And really, the zero on that side of the ledger is the overriding story of this game for No. 3 Ohio State...and will be for the next month of games unless and until it goes away. Meyer appears to join the rest of the nation in its collective yawn at the Buckeyes 18-0 start on his watch, saying all the right things about keeping the focus on today, and on this week’s opponent.

ferentz2Iowa (4-2) ran off four straight wins after losing their opener to Northern Illinois, the best win in that streak a 27-21 road victory over rival Iowa State. But they were taken down a peg by Michigan State last week in a 26-14 loss. The Hawkeyes defense is stout, especially against the run, as they are the only team in the nation yet to allow a rushing touchdown. I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that Carlos Hyde or Braxton Miller will put an end to that before halftime Saturday.  

Kirk Ferentz is now the dean of Big Ten coaches, in his 15th year in Iowa City. After winning Coach of the Year honors in the conference in 2009, the Hawkeyes went 19-19 over three seasons coming in to 2013, and they slumped to 4-8 a year ago. This is the second meeting between Ferentz and Meyer. The first was a 31-24 win for Meyer’s Florida Gators in the 2006 Outback Bowl. OSU leads the all-time series 46-14-3, including 27-8-1 when the Hawkeyes visit Columbus.

State of the Bucks

OSU Iowa3Ohio State is rested and ready as they return from the midseason break. Meyer spoke this week about the process of “self-scouting” they undertook during the time off, an examination of their own tendencies and preferences, with an eye toward becoming less predictable. So it will be interesting to see if and how they break from past practice in the weeks ahead.

Freshman defensive tackle Tommy Schutt will return to the lineup against Iowa after missing most of the first six games with an ankle injury. Schutt started the opener, but hasn’t been seen since, and his return makes a young, deep and talented defensive front that much more so. Linebacker Josh Perry has reportedly been slowed by a knee injury, but it isn’t expected to keep him out of action against the Hawkeyes.

Jordan Hall is also supposed to be ready to play again, and that may allow for Carlos Hyde to get an occasional breather. Questions about Hyde’s conditioning surfaced during the Northwestern game when he appeared to be out of breath in the second half. Word is that the issue may be more one of anxiety than of fitness. Hyde is apparently prone to episodes of a sort of hyperventilation when he gets worked up emotionally.

The return of Braxton Miller to 100% health is the most important issue for the Buckeyes in terms of their physical readiness to play the season’s second half. The bye week could not have been better timed for the straw that stirs the Buckeye drink. It was obvious during the Northwestern game...and later admitted by Miller himself...that he was not quite fully recovered from the knee sprain on October 6th in Evanston. A breakout game of sorts for Miller on Saturday would not be an illogical prediction.


Iowa: Key Personnel

IowahelmetThe Hawkeyes under Ferentz have always lived and died running the football, and this year’s edition is no different. Converted fullback Mark Weisman is the team’s starting running back, and he has 624 yards and 3 TD’s so far, on 126 carries. Weisman left the MSU game last week with an injury, but says he is 100% for OSU. Behind him is Damon Bullock, with 65 carries for 256 yards, plus 13 pass receptions out of the backfield.

Sophomore Jake Rudock has been efficient if not flashy as the Hawkeyes quarterback. He completes 60% of his passes (105 of 174, for 1,202 yds, 8 TD, 6 INT) and spreads the ball around to his backs and to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz in addition to his wide receivers. Kevonte Martin-Manley is the best of the wideouts (26 rec., 226 yds, 1 TD) but he has been injured as well, and is questionable for Saturday. Sophomores Tevaun Smith and Damon Powell provide good speed, but minimal experience as backups at wide receiver.

On defense, their success so far against the run has been well-documented, and that is attributable in large part to their defensive linemen exceeding expectations. Ends Dominic Alvis and Drew Ott, and tackles Louis Trinca-Pasat and Carl Davis have been effective making penetration, and keeping blockers off of a typically strong group of Hawkeye linebackers.

The Big Ten’s leading tackler a year ago, Anthony Hitchens (a Lorain product) leads the team with 59 tackles and 5.5 TFL from his linebacker spot, and James Morris and Christian Kirksey round out a very capable LB unit.

Two more Ohio kids start in the Iowa secondary, as B.J. Lowery from Cincinnati Hughes is their best cornerback, and John Lowdermilk of Carrollton, (son of former Buckeye center Kirk Lowdermilk) is a starter at safety.


Idle Speculation

OSU Iowa6Urban Meyer will lose a game at Ohio State. It might even happen soon. It just won’t be this week.

All indications are that the Buckeyes are rejuvenated and confident after their comeback win at Northwestern and a week of rest and reflection. It’s Homecoming...they’re averaging 48 points a game...and this Iowa team simply doesn’t have enough weapons on offense to hang around for four quarters. That’s really all that needs to be said, but as usual, I’ll say more.

It would make sense for Iowa to come out throwing the football, because that is the area in which the OSU defense has been less than stellar. They’ll use a lot of play action passes, but their predictability in doing it detracts from the surprise factor. On top of that, the OSU defensive backfield has had two weeks to hear about how badly they’ve played to date, and there will have to be some pushback from all the abuse they’ve taken. If the coaches have been as hard on them as the fans have been...look out. (I’m sure someone has had a word or two for the defensive coaches as well)

Meyer admitted that although both teams like to run the ball, both defenses do a pretty good job stuffing the rushing game, so a “Plan B” may be necessary for both teams. In an air war, the Buckeyes win handily, with all the weapons at Braxton Miller’s disposal. However, the weather (rain is forecast) may be a factor in keeping both teams grounded.

Michigan State was the first good team Iowa has faced this year (the schedule is heavily back-loaded, with OSU, NW, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska all in the second half) and the Hawkeyes managed to rush for just 23 yards. Rudock was 26 of 46 passing for 241 yards, (2 TD, 2 INT) but that was just 5.2 yards per attempt, and he had a 34.8 QB rating.

Kirk Ferentz is 1-7 against Ohio State in his career, the lone victory coming at what was probably the low-water mark of Ohio State football in the last 15 years. The 33-7 thrashing they took from Drew Tate and the Hawkeyes in 2004 was the third straight Big Ten loss for Tressel’s troops, and it signaled the end of the Justin Zwick experiment at quarterback. A kid named Troy Smith got his first career start the following week, and the Buckeyes won five of their last six to finish 8-4.

When you consider that OSU has lost more than three games just once since then, in the aberration that was the 2011 season, you might say that 2004 loss to Iowa was a significant turning point for Ohio State football. Whatever else you might say, you probably say the Buckeyes win this weekend.

My guess at the score is 33-10.


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