Ten Things We Learned from OSU’s 55-24 Loss at Iowa

This is usually where I’ll put the Woody Hayes quote about getting the hell kicked out of you being a great soul cleanser, but it feels like I’ve gone to that well too many times of late.

The fact that I even have to go to that well is a pretty glaring sign of where things stand for the Ohio State football program at the moment.

Losing to Iowa 55-24 does not end the Buckeyes’ season — there is still plenty to play for — but it does end the charade that Ohio State had any chance being one of the four teams chosen for the College Football Playoffs. And maybe that’s a good thing. It would be much worse to lose on a much larger stage to a much better (than Iowa) team.

At least now the Buckeyes can end their season with a win.

So what all did we learn from this baffling mess other than Iowa is a cold-blooded football monster? A bunch, and ain’t none of it pretty.

1. J.K. Dobbins disappears in big games.

Except J.K. Dobbins isn’t the one making it happen. Last week Urban Meyer and Kevin Wilson were both asked why Dobbins doesn’t play in the second (or fourth) quarters and they said that’s Tony Alford’s call. We all understand the need to throw the ball when you’re down big, but perhaps if you give the ball to your best player more often in the first half, you wouldn’t end up being down so big so often. Any other team in the nation is giving the ball to Dobbins 20 times a game. Meyer himself has said he wants to overwork Dobbins. In his first career game, Dobbins had 29 carries. Yesterday he had six, and against Penn State, just 13. He’s not a historic car that needs to be put away when the weather worsens. He wants to be out there joyriding. Let him.

2. There will be addition by subtraction.

Maybe this is just me watching too much Buckeye basketball the last few years, but when too many guys are around too long, it makes it difficult to move on from the groove (or rut) that they have created. When you look at the 2014 team, it was not a team heavy with fifth-year seniors. And it was a team led mostly by second and third-year players. The Buckeyes are going to lose a bunch of guys who have been around for ever, but that’s the circle of life in college football and it’s not a bad thing.

3. The linebackers have been a letdown.

There hasn’t been a single linebacker on the Ohio State roster who hasn’t looked lost at times this season, and that’s something that is pretty new this year under first-year linebackers coach Bill Davis. He inherited a veteran group and they are all playing worse than they did last year and well below expectations. Jerome Baker was supposed to be playing for an NFL contract this year — and he still may be, but he hasn’t helped his stock at all this season. Chris Worley gives thoughtful answers throughout the week with the media off the field, but on the field against Iowa, he had no answers for what the Hawkeyes were doing. If you want to be concerned about the future of a position group at Ohio State, it’s hard not to be most concerned about the regression of this position since last season.

4. J.T. Barrett’s Heisman candidacy took a hit.

How can a quarterback who looked so good one week ago look so bad this week? Iowa’s defense didn’t do anything that the Buckeyes didn’t expect, which makes this performance by J.T. Barrett so disappointing. It contradicts last week’s performance, and by its own sheer existence, proves that last week could be categorized as a fluke. This team was going to go as far as J.T. Barrett could take them, and that’s the fault of the coaches for putting that much on his back.

5. Ohio State is no different than any other (ordinary) program.

Every week you’ll see a team give up 50-odd points in a blowout and you’ll just shake your head and laugh. And now Ohio State is one of those programs where this can happen. Iowa is a good program, but if you’re going to make them look better than they are, then you’re doing it wrong. Ohio State has now joined the likes of any number of other programs who can look good from week to week, but then for whatever reason look absolutely pitiful out of the clear blue against an opponent that sometimes has a pulse. Urban Meyer said he had no clue that this was going to happen, which is the most frightening aspect of all of this. He was looking for clues and never saw them. Maybe he no longer knows how to find them — or fix them?

6. This wasn’t the Buckeyes losing the game.

Iowa beat Ohio State without much help from the Buckeyes. Last week, Ohio State tried to gift-wrap a win to Penn State, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t take care of business. This week, Iowa didn’t receive the same gifts — outside of the opening pick six right when Iowa stepped into the foyer. From that point on, however, Iowa took everything they wanted and the Buckeyes had no say in any of it.

7. It’s okay to just hand the ball off.

Not everything has to be a read and J.T. Barrett doesn’t have to find a numbers advantage on every snap. There is nothing wrong with simply handing the ball off and trying to succeed with your superior offensive line and running back talent. If you want to overwork J.K. Dobbins and you want to get Mike Weber involved, you can’t involve any read aspect because then you are simply allowing the defense to determine who runs the ball. That was fine when teams had to pick their poison between Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller, but when it is between Barrett and Dobbins or Barrett and Weber, there is no decision. The defense is going to choose Barrett to run the ball every time.

8. The season is not over.

If the Buckeyes win out, they will go to Indianapolis to play for the Big Ten Championship. And I know that right now you may not want to hear about it, but that is still something very much worth playing for. The playoff hopes are gone, and that is also maybe a good thing. Any season that ends with a conference title is a good thing, and this could still be one of those seasons. Remember the Rose Bowl win following the 2009 season? Of course you do. And how often do you think of the losses to USC and Purdue those years? Not very. This loss to Iowa was bad, and it will never be forgotten. This is also maybe a good thing.

9. The pass defense issues have not gone away.

Having trouble defending tight ends isn’t uncommon. Having no ability to defend them, however, is. And that’s not just on the linebackers, because the safeties were getting beaten as well. Based on this defensive performance against Iowa, it would appear that nothing has really changed with the pass defense of the linebackers and safeties. To add to that concern moving forward, the Buckeyes are going to see two more similar offenses in Michigan State next week and Michigan to end the season.

10. Don’t be surprised if you see some Buckeyes skip the bowl game.

Skipping bowl games was a popular topic during bowl season last year, but to a man, the Buckeyes all said they would never do that to their brothers. We’ll see how true that is this year. For a playoff game, you wouldn’t expect a player to sit out. For any other bowl game, however, all bets are off. We’ll see what happens when bowl season finally gets here, but don’t be shocked if the Buckeyes are a few men down this December or January.

26 Responses

  1. Why is there not a single comment that our coaching staff has gotten beaten so many times over the course of the past year? I know speaking poorly about a coach at Ohio State that isn’t named Cooper is sac-religious, but Meyer hasn’t coached well since winning the Championship (with Tressel’s recruits). He had arguably the best OSU team the year after and couldn’t coach them (sound familiar to ’95). Then has gotten out-coached more that I can count over the past 2 seasons. Sure, he wins the little games (like Cooper), but the big ones seems to float past him, or in the case of PSU (when trying his best to lose the game) his players’ talent wins out.

  2. After a day of completely ignoring all sports media, I can (finally) calmly write that my biggest concern is the team’s clear lack of discipline, preparation, and attention to detail. That team did not look ready to play. Worse yet, I see no situational awareness in the play calling or coaching adjustments based on success/failure on either side of the ball. There never seems to be a clear direction other than “do better”. Other coaches seem to game plan for the Bucks while Meyer & Co seem to have only one style of play that they are going to try and run come hell ot high water. It just feels like the coaches don’t examine an opponent’s weaknesses and adjust their game plan in an attempt to exploit them. The whole team seems lost from top to bottom and surprised that they just can’t “out-athlete” every opponent.

  3. O-H……N-O!

    When’s the funeral?

  4. The lack of carries for Dobbins and the claim by the head coach that he did not know Dobbins had so few carries the last two weeks are very puzzling. In this age of electronics to track every instant of a game, how is information like number of carries for the team’s leading rusher not communicated to the head coach and offensive coordinator at halftime? Also, how does an Iowa offensive line with two freshmen “neutralize” what is supposed to be the best defensive line in college football? Nevertheless, I am a lifelong Buckeye fan and will continue to cheer for them in every game they play.

  5. In the past 11 months the Buckeyes have suffered 3 of the worst losses in the history of their football program. Saturday’s performance was inexcusable. Now Sparty comes in as a 14.5 point underdog which I’m sure Dantonio and his staff are giddy about. The Buckeyes coaches better fix some things real quick or this season could be a disaster. Go Bucks!

  6. If I were JK Dobbins, I would transfer asap. What a waste of talent. What a joke of a staff for the way they use him. I bet Michigan would run him more often

  7. Ferentz figured it out. Neutralize the D-line and the flaws in the back 7 shine. Neutralize the O-line and the flaws in the skill players shine. Result: total team collapse.

    Urban didn’t know what hit him. When asked after the game if Iowa did anything differently, he said no, they did what the OSU coaches expected them to do. Really? No wonder there were no half-time adjustments. “Keep doing what we’re doing, just do it better,” doesn’t work when you are getting trampled. No wonder there were so few first downs in the second half. Result: Total Coaching Collapse

  8. Well, we can all relax. The Buckeyes definitely will not be seeking their third National Championship since 2002. J.T. will not be competing for the Heisman. If they can pick up the pieces and return to a semblance of their former selves, they can still get to the Big Ten Championships. The emphasis is on IF.
    But look on the bright side – the basketball Buckeyes are just starting their season, and they’ll be playing in a much smaller shadow of their gridiron peers.
    Cest la vie! Life goes on – and OSU football is not life. Not REAL life. The test of character is how one responds to adversity. The next few weeks will reveal whether Urban & Co., and the team, have real character – or are merely a cast of characters that will soon become a bittersweet memory.

  9. Well written; I would say that someone needs to press more on the coaches on how prepared they will be this week against Sparty. All I heard last week was how they were looking to avoid a letdown; isn’t hear about how well-prepared they are and that they had a great week of practice. We cannot go another game without winning the LOS on both sides of the ball, period.

  10. On the fake trick play….How can a center be a legal receiver? I have always known a tackle could be eligible……When announced but a center who hikes the ball is NEVER eligible….This is so confusing….Why?

    1. How can the center be eligible? Whoever is on the end of the line is the eligible receiver. On that play, the other 6 lineman were split left, making the guy hiking the ball on the end of the line. You could say the end was hiking the ball. There is no rule that says the center man of the 7 lineman is the only one who can hike that ball. We practiced that formation on my 8th grade team back in 1966. It has been around for a long time.

  11. good points though we knew most of them before the game. I have complained all year that Urban is only running the read option and has abandoned the power running game with designed runs for the RB. Other teams gameplan to keep the ball in JT’s hand, nothing new there. Put Berry in the backfield like we once did with Huerman and Vannett and let him and the line blow the defenders off the line of scrimmage….especially from the 40 yard line in where it is 4 down territory. Wilson has operated with a power spread in the past as well. Urban has been so stubborn to prove that JT is a good QB (which he is) that he put too much on JT’s shoulders to the detriment of our running game.
    I do not believe that JT suddenly became a gunslinger. I think he honestly had issues picking up the defenders with the uniforms that were extremely well camouflaged against the blackout. Look at the field level pictures. It is hard to pick out the Iowa players in many of them. It was just so out of character for him to put the ball at risk so much.
    The regression of the linebacking corps is inexcusable and borders on ridiculous. I have never seen players look so lost on the field as this group this year. (except maybe JT in the passing game when Beck was coaching him) I always thought of Fickell as a good guy and a good Buckeye, a good recruiter. I underappreciated his coaching and teaching abilities. Some times you do not realize what you have until it is gone. Is this Mr. Davis’ second year in the program? If so, wish him well elsewhere.

  12. 24 years ago when the Buckeyes got steamrolled by one of Penn State’s teams of every 25 years or so it was understandable.
    Losing to a then-5 – 3 Iowa is not.
    I learned that I was wrong to buy in on 2 games of decent pass catching by the wide receivers and that the warning signs of yards through the air weren’t okay just because the Buckeyes won those two games.
    I learned that this year’s team has too many captains and too few troops.
    I learned that Luke Fickell was a far better LB coach than many here on these boards gave him credit for.
    I learned that this team is too soft/feely for some players at the expense of the team.
    Most of all I learned that Michigan State plays better with their backs to the wall than the Buckeyes do – at least until proven otherwise this Saturday.

  13. Excellent- the Kool Aid has been put on the shelf! A few clarifications are in order:
    A) Point 4 re: JTs Heisman hopes- they didn’t just take a hit, they took a torpedo that sank them. Its a dead issue, sadly.

    B) Point 6- “This wasn’t the Buckeyes losing the game”…Hold on a second there. Even you mention the FIRST PLAY pick 6. After that, let’s not forget the endless litany of HUGE penalties (the Bucks were apparently tired of the teeny False Start 5 yarders and opted for monster Holds and Pass Interferences, Unsportsmanlikes, and penalties that resulted in loss of downs).
    NONE of that was Iowa ‘taking what they wanted”. Bosa’s ejection was stupid and avoidable and NOT the result of Iowa taking from OSU. And don’t even get me started on offensive play calling. Unless Iowa had mind control experts exerting their will on the coaching staff, it was again more of OSU screwing up than Iowa “taking”. The reason Iowa was 5-3 before the game was NOT that they are an excellent team, folks…

    3) You ALMOST took the gloves off and ripped the coaching staff like they deserve. Meyer is a coward in regard to his comments about Tony Alford somehow controlling JKs carries- what a turd comment. Rip them like they should be ripped!!!

    4) The final point about players skipping the bowl game is a bit presumptuous. If this team doesn’t wake up NOW, the bowl skippers will merely be opting out of the BeefJerky Cheese Curd Bowl played in lovely Starkville, Mississippi (or the like). Can you blame them? Gross.

  14. I’m not sure where #10 came from and it certainly doesn’t seem very important right now.

  15. Urban Meyer started 61-5 at Ohio State, with the five losses coming by a combined 35 points. Ohio State had a chance to tie or take the lead in the final minutes of all five of those losses. In other words, they were in every game. Urban’s last 10 games, however: 7-3, with the three losses coming by a combined 77 points.

    That is inexcusable.

    I don’t expect Ohio State to win every game, but I do expect them to not be embarrassed on a regular basis.

    I hope Urban is at Ohio State for years to come, but he needs to do some soul searching. The fire just doesn’t seem to be what it once was.

  16. I think Gene Smith needs to take a hard look at the coaching staff, including Meyer. How can OSU get blown out by Clemson, Oklahoma and now Iowa with three head coaches on the staff? How do they look so unprepared for a game they were favored by 20.5 points? Something is very wrong in Buckeye Land for these things to happen. There is no excuse for these blow-outs with the level of talent they have … none!

  17. Well written article and good points as always. Better to lose to Iowa and be exposed than to lose on a much bigger stage and be embarrassed nationally like Clemson.

  18. I said at the beginning of the year that you simply do NOT lose the back 4 talent we have the past two years and keep going. While I am upset about the game yesterday – especially after the highs of the beating of PSU – I am not upset about the season. We lost Eli, Bell and Powell, you say ok and turn to the backups. Then to turn around and lose Lattimore, Hooker, and Conley the next year, there is going to be some drop off because – 1. that is 4 first rounders and a second. 2. Your backups have not had enough time to develop in real games. I think our DBs have been exposed a lot this year, but going into the season if you had asked what group was going to cost us a game I would have immediately said the DB’s.
    I thought it was also interesting during the game yesterday the announcer said that Iowa was basically the first “pro style” offense we have seen this year because everyone else has run some form of the spread (except Army who is special).

  19. Give me a break all YOU “SPORTSPERTS” (experts): You need to fill keyboard space and all your negative naysaying is all you have? Regardless, this team may yet win the BT and then what will you write?

    This was a VERY DISAPPOINTING LOSS for all concerned. Time for the fans to rally behind this team again. Beat MSU! Illinios! and finally, MICHIGAN! THEN on to the BT Title game!


    1. Blah, blah, blah blah blah. That’s all I read in your post CentralVA. Nothing ever gets better by sipping KoolAid and singing Kumbaya.

      People are pissed off because the same problems keep recurring, complete with the same stupid MIC comments from the Head Coach when they do happen. His display following this worst beatdown at the hands of a mediocre opponent in Iowa was ridiculously ignorant.

      It’s not about what this team can possibly end up being, it’s what Coach Meyers hard headed selfishness cost this team. Selfishness because he refuses to turn to his producers in spite of their effectiveness which could have made this last game manageable rather than getting blown off the field.

      SADLY what we really learned from this game is that Coach Meyer still has his yes men assistants in handcuffs at the beck and call of his personal favorites. Coach Meyer tried to force JT Barrett into his predictably unsustainable hero status. This time it exploded in his face. People are sick and tired of seeing the same favoritism. I’m sure the players and some of the staff are sick of it as well.

      You can return to your Kumbaya party now.

    2. Ummm, nooooo, its not all we have. The article in question directly applied to a train wreck of a game against a team OSU should have worked. Go back to your (fake, in this case) happy place with this team and just wait for the next game.
      By the way, IF this team wins the BIG, “we” would probably write about the particulars of those games. Finally, I don’t want to hear from you, what fans “need” to do. I’ve been to 17 of the last 24 OSU/UM games at both venues and love the team- which is why this type of game is so painful. A little less homer and a lot more objectivity would do wonders for you, CentralVABuck!

  20. With all the Iowa scores we also learned that Mike Weber is not a kick returner. Fellow running backs McCall and Dobbins would be much better in terms of both elusiveness and speed. Maybe they’re looking for ball security but if that’s the case why run the ball out of the end zone?

    1. I was perplexed as well seeing Weber return all the kickoffs. Seems as though McCall and Dobbins would have been naturals to return kicks and get us good field position. It almost seems as if the coaching staff has decided that McCall is not a fit in the program and are trying to encourage him to move on….unless he is injured.

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