October, 20, 2013 Oct 20 10:00 AM ET COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lessons from No. 4 Ohio State’s 34-24 win over Iowa on Saturday at the Horseshoe. There’s no stopping the rushing game: The Hawkeyes came in with one of the nation’s toughest rush defenses and a streak of not allowing a touchdown on the ground that had lasted all season. The Buckeyes shredded both of them.
With quarterback Braxton Miller showing no more signs of being slowed by his knee injury, and tailback Carlos Hyde seemingly getting stronger with every carry he gets, Ohio State’s dynamic inside-outside rushing attack might be even more dangerous when Dontre Wilson and Jordan Hall are sprinkled into the mix than it was a year ago. Between the four of them, Ohio State rushed for 278 yards against a defense that was allowing fewer than 89 per game, and Hyde punched in a pair of touchdowns to end the streak of not allowing a score on the ground.
The margin for error remains thin in the secondary: The Buckeyes were having a few defensive issues even before Bradley Roby’s ejection for targeting in the first quarter left them without two starters in the secondary. And while there wasn’t much to complain about in a second half that only included one touchdown for the Hawkeyes, those points did come at the expense of a blown coverage that produced an 85-yard score and another ugly play for Ohio State to watch in the film room.
Removing Roby from the equation is a significant blow, and with Christian Bryant already out for the season with a broken ankle, the Buckeyes deserve some credit for adjusting and rallying after intermission. But defending the pass was a top priority over the bye week for Ohio State, and that work is clearly not done yet.
Wins, not style points, remain priority: The Buckeyes had a chance to compare themselves to some of the top teams in the country while off on their bye week, and they certainly are aware of the crowded field of unbeaten contenders at the top of the polls. But if they get caught up in winning over voters, Iowa offered a reminder of what can happen if the Buckeyes don’t simply take care of business on the field.
The Hawkeyes were certainly talented and physical enough to earn the lead they had at halftime, and despite the perception of the Big Ten being a bit down, there could easily be a couple more tests coming like the one Ohio State faced on Saturday. And while Iowa’s national reputation right now might not do the Buckeyes any favors when the voters cast their ballots for the rankings, as long as they keep winning, OSU is not going anywhere in the chase for a championship. Covers Ohio State and the Big Ten.Joined ESPN in 2012.Attended the University of Wyoming.
Iowa tested No. 4 Ohio State early, outscoring the Buckeyes 17-10 through two quarters. Then Braxton Miller and Ohio State’s offense flexed its muscle, blasting the Hawkeyes 24-7 in the second half on the way to a 34-24 victory. The Buckeyes (7-0) cemented their status as the Big Ten’s best team and pushed the nation’s longest winning streak to 19. What else can we gather from the game? Here are 10 things we learned from Ohio State’s 10-point victory over Iowa.
Ohio State was given all it could handle by the Iowa Hawkeyes for a half on Saturday afternoon in Columbus, before pulling away for a 34-24 win—a win that moved the Buckeyes’ streak to 19 straight games and their record to 7-0 for the 2013 season. The Buckeyes should be enjoying a win over a tough defensive opponent in an improving Big Ten conference, but…. ….The only problem is, the Buckeyes are damned if they do, damned if they don’t in the eyes of pollsters and the BCS computers. Blow out Iowa at home? So what, you were supposed to do that. Have a relatively close game for a third straight time in Big Ten play? Well, that’s no good either…remember, the Big Ten isn’t a tough conference. So, no matter the result, Ohio State wasn’t likely to gain any respect in the minds of people who hold the school’s National Championship Game fate in their hands. It’s a scenario that is likely to play out each and every week the rest of the season for the Buckeyes. The only way it doesn’t play out like that is if Michigan comes into “The Game” without another loss. Otherwise, Ohio State isn’t going to play another team with enough cache to help its status with most pollsters or computer models in the BCS. The simple fact is: Ohio State needs to win pretty almost every week and get some help if it is to make the BCS title game. Despite the perception that is playing out nationally, two things were made…
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller went home over the bye week and took the opportunity to watch a couple of college games on TV. Among them was No. 1 Alabama winning big at Kentucky. Miller believes that the Buckeyes can play with the Crimson Tide, the two-time defending national champions. ”When it gets to that point in the future, it’ll be a good game,” he said. ”It’ll be a good matchup.” Coach Urban Meyer also watched a couple of games on the day off and also feels the Buckeyes could hang with the county’s elite. ”I think we are right there,” he said. ”I think we are a good team, I do.” But then he reverted to form, more concerned with what’s in front of him than any possible future dates in a potential Bowl Championship Series date with the likes of Alabama or Oregon. ”Human nature is, especially when you have time on a weekend of a bye week, to watch a lot of games (to see) how you match up,” Meyer said. ”I kind of have these mechanisms in place just to stop thinking about (that), refocus on getting first downs and stopping people because that’s really not helping the cause at all.” Linebacker Ryan Shazier went to a teammate’s house in Indiana over the weekend. ”I watched a little bit of college football. I saw a lot of good teams play,” he said. ”I feel that we can play with any of them.” Daydreaming about playing for national championships and in other big games doesn’t mean much if the Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) don’t keep winning. They’ve won 18 times in a row – the longest streak in the nation – heading into Saturday’s home game with Iowa (4-2, 1-1). But the Buckeyes aren’t expecting an easy time of it against the Hawkeyes – or the remaining five unranked teams waiting in the wings. ”Everybody dogs the Big Ten about not having a bunch of ranked teams. And it’s the SEC this, and the Pac-12 (that),” Ohio State center Corey Linsley said. ”But, honest, you look at the history of Iowa and, just to name a couple of other teams, Penn State and Purdue. … The weeks that we have taken off, we have treated those teams as what the AP treats them as and what the rest of the country treats them as non-ranked opponents, those are the weeks we get beat. ”We’re not taking this week lightly and we’re not going to take the next seven weeks lightly.” His coach agrees that the Buckeyes can’t waltz through the stretch run. ”We’ve got to find a way to win this Saturday, and it’s not easy,” Meyer said. ”We’ve been in here for two weeks trying to figure out how to run the ball against this defense.” Iowa is eighth in the nation against the run, permitting just 88.5 yards a game. The Hawkeyes are the only major-college team which has yet to give up a touchdown on the ground…
Adam Rittenberg Rittenberg joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four years at the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald, where he covered sports at Notre Dame, Northwestern, DePaul and several other colleges. He lives in Chicago. Send questions and comments »Brian Bennett Bennett joined ESPN.com in August 2008 after nine years at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where he covered college sports and the University of Louisville beat. He lives in Louisville. Send questions and comments »
Iowa (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) at No. 4 Ohio State (6-0, 2-0), 3:30 p.m. (ABC) Line: Ohio State by 17. Series Record: Ohio State leads, 45-14-3. The Hawkeyes need a win to remain a player in the Big Ten’s Legends Division. They come in a game back of Michigan State and Nebraska, each at 2-0. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are the top dog in the Leaders Division and must stay perfect to hang on to a shot at staying in the national title picture.
Austin Ward previews a Big Ten slugfest between Ohio State and Iowa, two of the best rushing offenses and run defenses in the country.
I assume I’m an alternate for the selection committee. Braxton Miller had a couple things to work on during the bye week, starting with getting his knee fully healthy and shoring up his ball security as the Ohio State quarterback prepared for Iowa.
The thrilling win Christian Hackenberg helped Penn State pull off last weekend might be an early chapter in his book, but it’s one that won’t be skimmed over down the line.
Iowa offensive lineman Andrew Donnal, born a fan of the Buckeyes, has had to do some redecorating in the family home and is looking to make a successful return to the Horseshoe.
Just like his mother, Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi can still see room for his elite defense to improve.
Michigan is designing mismatches for Devin Funchess in a new wide receiver/tight end hybrid role, and it has paid off with three touchdowns in the last two weeks.
Nebraska picked up a couple of impressive wins between its bye weeks, and suddenly things are starting to look more optimistic for its beleaguered defense.
After struggling to find much consistency on the ground over the last couple of games, Minnesota is expecting a bit more breathing room for its rushing attack against Northwestern.
The Illinois secondary is largely coming up empty in the interception department, and the defensive line isn’t generating many sacks. Both units rank last in the country in those statistical categories and are trying to climb out of the cellar.
Now 60 years in the past, Purdue’s memorable upset of top-ranked Michigan still remains clear in the minds of a few who witnessed it.
Wisconsin right tackle Rob Havenstein can pop in film of his play last season for reminders of how far he has come as a blocker. The next step is becoming a “dominant force.”
Covers Ohio State and the Big Ten.Joined ESPN in 2012.Attended the University of Wyoming. Tags:Purdue Boilermakers, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Michigan State Spartans, Illinois Fighting Illini, Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan Wolverines, Wisconsin Badgers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Big Ten, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Pat Narduzzi, Andrew Donnal, Rob Havenstein, Braxton Miller, Devin Funchess, Christian Hackenberg
At the halfway point of the season, the Big Ten hasn’t produced many highlights. OK, Michigan beat Notre Dame and Wisconsin’s running game is, again, about as good as it gets. Oh, and Ohio State’s perfect start and No. 4 ranking has given the conference a stake in the national championship chase. But the Big Ten had only four teams win all four nonconference games. Indiana’s convincing victory over Penn State has been the only upset, a mild one at that. Against Notre Dame and the five other major leagues, the Big Ten went 9-8. Six of those wins were over California (1-5), Iowa State (1-4), South Florida (2-4) and Syracuse (3-3), non-contenders in their respective conferences. The second half ought to be better, however. Rivalry games are on deck and the September fluff of FCS and mid-major opponents has passed. Here are five things to know about Big Ten football, reflecting on the first half and looking ahead to the rest of the season: BEST GAME: Penn State’s fourth-quarter comeback for a 43-40 victory in four overtimes last Saturday against Michigan, all the missed field goals aside, will be tough to top. Penn State’s biggest win in two years with coach Bill O’Brien bumped Michigan out of the Top 25 following its first defeat. Rivalry games on Nov. 2 (Michigan at Michigan State) and Nov. 30 (Ohio State at Michigan) will be closely watched, but here are three strong contenders for a second-half winner, all involving the same three teams: Northwestern at Nebraska on Nov. 2, Michigan State at Nebraska on Nov. 16, and Michigan State at Northwestern on Nov. 23. The Legends Division race is tight, and the Spartans, Huskers and Wildcats will be trying to put themselves in position for better bowl games. Nebraska’s offense and Michigan State’s defense are an intriguing contrast. Northwestern needs to make up for humbling losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin with a win or two over teams in the Big Ten’s top tier. WORST WEEKEND: The conference looked weak on Sept. 14, when Michigan barely beat Akron, Minnesota struggled early against Western Illinois and Penn State lost at home to Central Florida. The Big Ten went 1-3 against the Pac-12, with Ohio State’s win over California not enough to counteract Wisconsin’s bizarre loss at Arizona State, a defeat for Illinois against Washington and a 20-point loss by Nebraska at home to UCLA. This Saturday, with Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota and Purdue on the road and heavyweights Ohio State, Michigan, Northwestern and Michigan State hosting, the slate doesn’t look strong, either. BEST COACHING: Tim Beckman has made Illinois more competitive so far after a rough debut in 2012, and Gary Andersen has made sure Wisconsin hasn’t missed a beat. Considering the wealth of talent Ohio State has, though, Urban Meyer has been an unquestioned success. He was asked Tuesday if he found himself watching Alabama or Oregon this fall and thinking ahead to a potential national title game…
The schedule hasn’t really even hit the midway point thanks to a pair of bye weeks loading up the front half of the slate. But Illinois has already played enough games to improve its record from a year ago, and it has plenty of time to build on a productive start and get back into the postseason thanks to a high-flying offense.
The Illini missed out on a chance to put themselves in early position to contend in the Leaders Division after struggling in a lopsided loss at Nebraska with the offense being held to a season-low 19 points. But if new coordinator Bill Cubit and dynamic quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase can rediscover the magic that had Illinois racking up touchdowns in wins against Cincinnati, Miami (Ohio) and Southern Illinois, it might not be too late to make some noise in the conference.
The Legends Division remains wide open, and Illinois has only played once so far in league play, though it could be a grind to go seven straight weeks in the Big Ten without a breather — and the matchups might not be all that favorable with Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, Ohio State and Northwestern remaining.
But Scheelhaase has appeared much more comfortable leading the offense this season, completing more than 64 percent of his passes, throwing for 12 touchdowns and also complementing Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young in a rushing attack that has collectively topped 1,000 yards already this season. And if the Illini can get a bit more help from a defense that gave up at least 34 points in both losses, it could be a tough out down the stretch.
Either way, Illinois has already shown improvement coming off a brutal 2-10 season, and it still has time to take a few more steps forward.
Offensive MVP: QB Nathan Scheelhaase. The Illini can spread touches around and get a variety of different rushers and receivers involved offensively, but everything funnels through Scheelhaase and his ability to make decisions with the football. The senior is completing nearly 20 passes per game and averaging almost 260 yards through the air, and while his rushing numbers aren’t all that impressive thanks to 104 yards in losses, his ability to put pressure on a defense in different ways has been instrumental in the Illini’s early success.
Defensive MVP: LB Jonathan Brown. The senior isn’t hard to find when the defense is on the field because he’s almost always by the football. Brown leads the Big Ten in total tackles with 60, a number that’s even more impressive because he’s racked them up in one fewer game than the rest of the leaders at this point of the season. He’s also been able to disrupt offenses in the backfield, making 6.5 of those tackles behind the line of scrimmage.