The Buckeye Watch — Iowa
by Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, OHIO — Ohio State moved to 7-0 overall and 3-0 in the conference with a 34-24 win over Iowa. The Buckeyes trailed at the half by a touchdown for the second week in a row, but they don't seem to let it bother them. They outscored Iowa 24-7 in the second half, after outscoring Northwestern 27-10 in the second half last week.
There's something to be said for a team that can make adjustments at the half and come out like an entirely different – and much better – team. However, the Buckeyes still haven't put together an entire four quarters in conference play. Even against Wisconsin, they were outscored 10-7 in the second half.
Perhaps the best news for the Buckeyes is that when they are challenged, they are answering that challenge. Perhaps the worst news, however, is that they keep getting challenged.
1:45 The press box food today consists of City Barbecue, bratwurst and burgers. I'm not sure why Ohio State is trying to impress the Iowa media, but I like it.
3:07 The Buckeyes are running drills and Dontre Wilson was in the slot blocking. It was pretty weird. But if a three-foot tall cement post can stop a car, surely Wilson can slow down a linebacker for a split second. Looks like we'll get to see him more today.
3:23 It's just not the same not getting to see the Wolverines on a Saturday. Every game is like a variety show. What will we get to see this week? Nobody knows, and that's the excitement. The TV Guide just says “A very special 'Michigan Football'. Brady has to deal with a cranky defensive coordinator.”
3:31 It doesn't look like it's raining right now. Might be a little chilly, but this isn't soccer, so I don't think anybody will need their mothers.
3:34 Seems pretty windy on the field judging by the amount of khaki turbulence. By the way, the Buckeyes have won the toss and will defer.
3:36 Jordan Cotton gets the kickoff at the three-yard line and gets outside just like Urban Meyer said only one team has been able to do all year. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Drew Basil is there to bring him down at the 20-yard line. Might be time to get Basil some defensive snaps.
3:40 Iowa is moving the ball slowly, but surely so far. Jake Rudock goes with a play-action to tight end George Kittle for 24 yards. Dude was wide open. Iowa is attacking with the tight ends early. Clearly they've seen something. And they keep seeing something.
3:41 Mark Weisman picks up five yards. It's not a lot, but it's another snap where the Ohio State defensive line has gotten pushed back. This is pretty much a dream scenario for the Iowa offense.
3:43 Play-action bootleg to Jake Duzey gets the ball down to the four-yard line. Okay, this is excessive. Obviously Ohio State cannot cover all of these tight ends, and this is not even sporting. Where's your class, Iowa?
3:45 First and goal. Heavy lineup with three tight ends. Play-action, Rudock finds C.J. Fiedorowicz in the back of the endzone for the touchdown. Pure class. I think maybe the Big Ten should get involved and stop this before somebody's feelings get hurt. Iowa leads it 7-0.
3:46 Well, Iowa's “All-Tight End Offense” was controversial when it was announced, but it has proven effective, albeit completely unethical.
3:47 Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, I am starting OSU's defense. My bad.
3:50 Ohio State opens with a quick play-action pass to tight end Jeff Heuerman. Two can play at this game. All tight ends all the time. The Buckeyes have stooped to the Hawkeyes' level, and now this game is basically an illegal kumite featuring glass shard-encrusted fists and an unquenchable thirst for blood.
3:55 Braxton Miller drops back, then takes off on the scramble. Shows a sharp cut. He looked a lot like the Braxton of old, making people whiff on the cuts.
4:00 Third and five. Miller drops back, but his pass is batted down at the line. He was trying to get it into Evan Spencer. Time for Drew Basil, who hits the 27-yard field goal. Iowa leads it 7-3. Well, we knew there would be field goals from the Buckeyes today with Iowa's stellar redzone defense.
4:07 Weird. Iowa goes to an empty set out of the shotgun. Rudock hits Fiedorowicz for 10 yards with Curtis Grant in coverage. Seems weird to say, but the Buckeyes may have to go to a nickel to cover all of these tight ends, because the linebackers sure aren't doing it.
4:07 Three tight ends in the game now. I could not respect Iowa any less at this point. The rules committee may want to get involved moving forward, because they are killing sportsmanship. Now Rudock is changing the play. Perhaps guilt has finally set in. It's a stretch play to Damon Bullock who picks up 12 yards to the wide side. Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis can do no wrong right now, which has me completely confused.
4:08 More with the three tight ends. Leshun Daniels picks up seven yards. Not only is Iowa using too many tight ends, but now they're also using a Buckeye legacy to run the ball. I haven't seen such classless football since every Miami Hurricanes game ever.
4:09 Three tight ends again. Play-action to Fiedorowicz and he gets absolutely drilled by Bradley Roby. Wait for it...yep, there's the flag for targeting. A late flag. They're discussing it, and Roby's in the huddle with the refs. It's a personal foul for targeting the head and neck area and Roby has been ejected. Hilarious. Roby hit him in the chest with his shoulder. The ruling is confirmed. Urban Meyer is stunned. Well, at least Buckeye fans will be happy that they don't have Bradley Roby around anymore screwing things up. But at least somebody took a stand against Iowa's lack of class by playing so many uncoverable tight ends.
4:12 Perhaps this will fire the Buckeyes up. Joey Bosa gets a pass rush, forcing Rudock's third down throwaway. They get a 28-yard field goal and Iowa now leads it 10-3 with 0:07 to play in the first quarter.
4:13 Bradley Roby stood up to Iowa's tight end oppression, and it has cost him the rest of this game. But at least he stood for something.
4:22 Third and three from the Ohio State 33-yard line. Very big down right here. Where's Devin Smith been? Miller asks the same, then finds Smith for an easy 10-yard completion thanks to some more soft coverage.
4:22 Dontre Wilson comes in at tailback. It's a play-action to a wide, wide, wide open Philly Brown for the 58-yard touchdown. Wow. That's how you use Dontre Wilson. Tanner Miller bit on that fake like a catfish on a noodler. Buckeyes tie it up 10-10.
4:29 Play-action bootleg to fullback Macon Plewa for 12 yards. Now they're using a fullback in the passing game? This is pure evil.
4:31 Third and six. Empty set. Rudock finds Duzey for seven yards. These short passes to the tight ends are pretty ingenious. You take the fact that the Buckeyes have no time for a pass rush and no coverage from the linebackers, and you wonder where the answers are for Ohio State.
4:32 Armani Reeves blitzes on the play-action and runs with the running back while Rudock scrambles for two yards. If Bradley Roby is still in the game, he hits Rudock from the blind side and possibly forces a fumble.
4:40 Third and five from the six-yard line. Trips left. Shotgun. Rudock is changing the play again. We were told this week that he has complete mental control of the offense, and we're seeing it. He drops back and floats it to Kevonte Martin-Manley for the touchdown. Reeves was in good position until he took a peak at somebody who wasn't his man and lost KMM. Iowa leads it 17-10. That was a 15-play drive that took 6:31 off the clock. The Buckeye defense just can't get off the field.
4:46 Hyde takes the handoff and runs wide right, rumbling to the Iowa 29-yard line for 17 yards. He looks like he wants more carries. Might be time to oblige.
4:47 Braxton Miller just got sacked by linebacker James Morris on a blitz. A blitz? Iowa doesn't blitz. Now Iowa's defense is doing illegal things. If it takes cheating with three tight end sets and blitzing linebackers to win a Big Ten Coach of the Year Award, then Kirk Ferentz can have it.
4:53 Fourth and 10 from the 29-yard line. The Buckeyes are going for it. Miller drops back, scrambles, picks up the first down, but there are multiple flags on the play. Holding on the defense and a block in the back on Philly Brown. That's a killer for Ohio State.
4:54 They're going for it again. Miller throws it into double-coverage to Evan Spencer, and Spencer nearly comes down with it. I think he was going that way even before the snap. There was no hesitation. Spencer limps off the field.
4:57 Iowa really needs to try to get another score here. There's 1:45 on the clock, and they'll need as many insurance points as they can get in this game.
4:59 Third and 10 from the Iowa 39-yard line. Rudock is tackled after a three-yard scramble and Ohio State isn't calling a timeout for some reason for the second game in a row. I don't get it.
5:00 The Buckeyes rough the punter. Oh, NOW I get it. That's why Meyer didn't call timeout, because he knew this was a possibility. Actually, they're just calling it running into the kicker. The Buckeyes will get the ball at their own four-yard line, take a knee and head to the half.
5:02 And for the second week in a row, the Buckeyes trail by a touchdown at halftime. This time it's 17-10.
5:03 I assume the Ohio State coaches will spend the half trying to get Congress to act against this three tight end offense that Iowa is running.
5:04 The Buckeye offense has had 25 snaps in this game. They might want to try a hurry up just to get more snaps, but they also need to keep Iowa's amazing offense off the field. Can you believe you just read that?
5:22 This could very well be a defining second half for Luke Fickell as Ohio State's defensive coordinator. Have they made the proper adjustments to Iowa's tight end attack? If they haven't, then that may have some long-lasting impacts in Columbus.
5:25 Carlos Hyde gets the Buckeyes' second half going with a 12-yard carry on first down. Careful not to get too many yards too soon. Remember, the Iowa offense is just waiting to get back on the field.
5:26 Miller drops back and finds Devin Smith for an easy 13 yards on very soft coverage. See? Even Iowa's defense wants their offense to get back out there as soon as possible. Are the Buckeyes falling into yet another trap?
5:30 Dontre Wilson comes in. Gets the carry wide and picks up seven yards. He stepped out a yard short of the first down. He gets hit out of bounds on what was actually more of a helmet-to-helmet hit than what Roby gave to Fiedorowicz.
5:33 Second and goal from the one-yard line. Hyde gets the ball and gets into the endzone. Or at least in the general vicinity. They'll review this I assume. No review? Buckeyes have tied it up 17-17. They just showed the replay, and I never actually saw the ball reach the goal line definitively. Oh, and Iowa has now officially allowed a rushing touchdown this season.
5:34 Great opening drive for the Buckeyes. Only one third down on the drive, and it was a third and one.
5:39 Iowa now comes out in a three receiver set. Looks like those D.C. connections have finally paid off for the Buckeyes.
5:42 Third and nine. Rudock's pass is well short of the sticks and knocked down by Doran Grant. Now this is the Iowa passing game that I was expecting. It's not so easy to throw the ball when you are forced by government intervention to actually be sporting, is it? Iowa punts for what I can only assume is the first time all season.
5:57 Miller drops back and finds Jeff Heuerman in the flats for 15 yards. Looks like the Buckeyes bought some tight end offsets at halftime while also lobbying for the banning of tight ends altogether.
5:48 Miller keeps it on the fake to Wilson and picks up 10 yards on the ground. Meyer and Tom Herman said they had to find different ways to use Wilson, and they're doing a nice job of it today. Iowa's defense is keying on him, and it's hurting them.
5:53 Quick hitch to Devin Smith, who gets outside of his defender and follows a pair of blocks into the endzone from 14 yards out. Philly Brown and Chris Fields paved the way. I think that might be the first time this season a receiver has actually gotten beyond the defense on that play. The Buckeyes have their first lead of the game, 24-17.
5:54 Oh, I almost forgot – with that Devin Smith touchdown, the Buckeyes have just clinched a victory. From here on out it's all just filler.
5:58 Rudock drops back and tosses it to Jake Duzey who somehow runs right by Armani Reeves down the sideline and scores an 85-yard touchdown. Wow. I'm not sure what I just saw, but I'm guessing the senate subcommittee isn't going to like this. Tie ballgame 24-24.
6:05 Devin Smith picks up another 16 yards on the soft cushion. This has to be driving Iowa fans insane, because nothing drives fans crazier than free easy yards due to soft cushions out wide. Buckeyes will have a first down at the Iowa 31-yard line when the fourth quarter begins. Still tied 24-24 at the end of the third.
6:11 Third and seven from the 28-yard line. Miller drops back, can't find anybody. He takes off, then reverses field and suddenly there is a whole lot of room to run. He finally gets tackled after running about 60 yards for a nine-yard gain and picking up the first down. He might want to hand this one off.
6:12 Carlos Hyde gets the carry, bounces it out, gets blasted back by Tanner Miller and somehow keeps his balance. Then he gathers himself and runs for the endzone, diving in for the touchdown. Holy crap. He must've had a cheat code on that run. That wasn't natural. Buckeyes lead it 31-24. That's a pretty good answer by Ohio State.
6:16 Still, Hyde probably should've taken a knee at the one. Now Iowa's offense comes back out.
6:17 The crowd is now into the game. Iowa comes out in three tight ends for the first time this half. At what point does this become treason? Ryan Shazier comes on the blitz and forces an incompletion.
6:19 Third and six. Rudock throws it right to Doran Grant, whom he must've mistaken for a tight end, but Grant drops the sure pick six because even if Iowa doesn't believe in sportsmanship, he still does. Iowa will punt.
6:27 Hyde takes the carry out wide and picks up 28 yards down to the Iowa 12-yard line. I thought he was gone. Made a nice bounce and squeezed through, but got tracked down. He's an amazing weapon to have. As a defense tires, he gets stronger. He is basically a human pickup truck commercial.
6:29 Third and six from the nine-yard line. Miller rolls out and throws a very ill-advised pass back across the middle, but it falls to the ground. That throw was what pick sixes are made of. Drew Basil comes in to make it 34-24 with a 26-yard field goal. Time to head down to the field.
6:33 We're still in the elevator heading down. I heard the PA say it was third down, and then a few seconds after that I could hear the crowd erupt through the closed doors, so something happened, but I have no idea what.
6:37 Apparently the Buckeyes got an interception. But you probably already knew that.
6:44 Ohio State is trying to run the clock out, but Iowa keeps calling timeout for some reason. Third and six. Miller takes off, but fumbles it forward. The Buckeyes recover for a first down. Well, if you didn't know this game was already over before that bit of luck, you know now.
6:45 The Buckeyes come out in victory formation, and this ball game is over. Ohio State wins a tough one 34-24. I said earlier in the week that this might be the toughest game left on the Buckeyes' schedule, but I'm now beginning to wonder how many easy ones there will be. A great defense doesn't give up 24 points to Iowa. I'm not sure a good defense does. However, you have to credit the Hawkeyes' game plan, because it was absolutely perfect for a half. I'm sure that makes you feel a lot better, right?
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