One week after beating the No. 2 team in the country, Ohio State laid the biggest of eggs in Iowa City on Saturday, losing to Iowa, 55-24, at Kinnick Stadium.
“I was extremely shocked,” Ohio State All-American and Big Ten Network James Laurinaitis said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I’ve played at Iowa, and Iowa is a very difficult place to play, especially when you’re highly ranked and you go in there. Kirk Ferentz, in the way that he does things, (is) very old-school football.”
Iowa (6-3) rushed 38 times for 243 yards (6.4 yards per carry) and forced four turnovers in the win. The Hawkeyes scored on a pick-six on the first play from scrimmage and never looked back.
“I was at the Penn State game the week before, and when you were watching that game, I was just thinking, ‘Penn State is making all these plays early on, but Ohio State was losing it,’” Laurinaitis said. “We were out-gaining them, we were moving the ball, we were stopping them. But obviously the kick return from (Saquon) Barkley, the fade to DaeSean Hamilton – those are two plays where I’m like, ‘Goodness, it’s 14-3 and we haven’t been blinked.’ But Ohio State had been moving the ball offensively. It felt differently.”
Saturday was a different story.
“Watching the Iowa game, it just looked like they lined up and were like, ‘We’re going to run our offense. We’re going to attack your linebackers and safeties with our tight ends,’” Laurinaitis said. “I expected them to come out and do what they did to Penn State where they were trying to shorten the game. Let’s run the ball, make the game shorter, limit possessions for Penn State. They came out throwing on first down and being aggressive over and over against Ohio State and really had them on their heels. You could really tell from watching that football game that that’s the first time that defense had seen what a traditional pro-style offense looks like. Can you stop it? It was like they had never seen it before. It was eye-opening.”
The Buckeyes weathered the first-half storm to forge a 17-17 tie, as J.T. Barrett hit Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon for touchdown throws of 29 and 44 yards, respectively. Laurinaitis expected Ohio State to settle in and eventually wear Iowa out.
“It just never occurred,” Laurinaitis said. “The defense never gave the O a chance.”
Barrett, who thrust himself into the Heisman race after an improbable comeback against Penn State, finished 18-of-34 for 208 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.
“I love J.T., but when you’re playing from behind . . . when you play that position in the second half and your defense isn’t getting you a stop and you’re saying to yourself, ‘Every single possession has to be points,’ that is a crazy amount of pressure to go through emotionally two weeks in a row,’” Laurinaitis said. “I’m not making excuses for him. He played bad, he’ll admit it. It was such an anomaly because we don’t expect this from Urban Meyer teams, especially within the Big Ten. Goodness, if they would have lost by a three or a touchdown, you say, ‘All right, chalk it up to being a tough place to play in Kinnick.’ But the fact that it was 55 points – that was the most points put on them since the ’94 game when Kerry Collins and Penn State put it on my old coach, Luke Fickell, who was my D-Coordinator. If we ever brought that game up, it still hurts him to this day. I still am shocked that Iowa put 55 up.”
Ohio State is all but out of the College Football Playoff picture but can still win the Big Ten title. The No. 11 Buckeyes (7-2) host No. 13 Michigan State (7-2) this Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.
“They have Michigan State with Mark Dantonio coming into town off a huge win (over Penn State),” Laurinaitis said. “Sparty has always played Ohio State well. They’ve been a bigger thorn in our side than even Michigan has the last 10 years. Mark Dantonio is doing a great job up there. If they don’t get their emotions back this weekend, they won’t even be going to Indianapolis representing the Big Ten East two weeks (after winning) the biggest game in college football. It’s crazy.”