Freedom Fought

By Luke on November 20, 2010 at 9:02p

The final five minutes. Tension thick as a November fog or the gray that will occupy both school's skies for the better part of the next four and a half months. The chips on the table firmly centered; the point of no-return well beyond summited.

And yet in spite of the unique circumstances contributing to the tenor of the evening, against the grain of the measure that read noxiously similarly to exact moment at which the entirety of the piece deviated from the pleasant and derailed like a train off its tracks, a gut check, breathless site all to familiar to this school and its fans, just as it was a year prior, the plane leveled. Cabin pressure restored. Tornado sirens shrieking silenced. Sheer terror turned sheer jubilation; a deja vu sensation not entirely unfamiliar and perhaps (from an emotional standpoint) an a:b repeat of a year prior. 

The frustrating tease of the three quarters prior trivialized almost instantaneously, the Ohio State Buckeyes found consistency where there was none, stability when things seemed most unstable, and enough fire and counter punch to almost usurp a more than worth advisory in the Iowa Hawkeyes. Daniel "Boom" Herron's second effort in as many tries penetrated the goal line with but 1:47 to play and gave Ohio State their first lead since six minutes into the third quarter, 20-17. While a Rose by any other name (say, Sugar, or Orange) would smell as sweet, the very prospects there are of now stand shifted from impossibility to a grudge match away from becoming a reality.

The Buckeyes began late Saturday afternoon's contest getting to notable jingoist Ricky Stanzi, but in the process also took down one of the members of Iowa's chain gangs in one the ugliest injuries this side of Lawrence Taylor-meet-Joe Theismann. This would serve to establish the tone for the better part of the next two quarters of football. While Ohio State came with the sort of aggressive approach that vocal message board and internet weblog commenters alike dream up on their XBOX360's and PS3's, seemingly only Ohio State's Brian Rolle found a way to establish himself within the context of the general strategy. Rolle would ultimately help contribute to a defensive effort that would hold Iowa to just 81 rushing yards.

Capitalizing on a defensive secondary routinely out of position and a defensive line that struggled to consistently establish a counter push on the Hawkeyes offensive line, Ricky Stanzi let a systematic, true freshman Marcus Coker-powered drive that gave the Hawkeyes the afternoon's first lead, 7-0, on a strike to junior receiver Marvin McNutt. The freshman tailback would finish the first quarter with 7 carries for 43 yards, including an 18 yard scamper on the tone establishing drive.

The Buckeyes countered early in the second as Terrelle Pryor re-established a familiar rapport with senior Dane Sanzenbacher. Herron seemed to finally pick up with a similar feel for the gaps that he had a week prior breaking a ten yard rush though this wouldn't to be a trend for Boom. TP, perhaps channeling some of the histrionics he'd seen his idol Michael Vick display the previous Monday night, scrambled out of a tackle attempt flipping the ball as he lost his balance not unlike a point guard driving the lane and found sophomore fullback Zach Boren, but alas a yard short and with no room for the momentum necessary to push for the three feet still needed to turn the dynamic effort into six points. Initially, Ohio State seemed well position to uncharacteristically go for and establish their will upon the Hawkeyes on the 4th-and-goal from-the-1 opportunity, but after taking a time out to reconsider the situation, ultimately reverted into the same pacifist, calculated 'Tresselnomical' approach to game theory we've grown to accept and condone and converted a field goal attempt.

Adding to Buckeye aficionado frustrations was an overly analytical, almost patient to-a-fault heave by Pryor late in the half that ultimately found its way into a crowd of Hawkeyes (behind a once streaking, open Taurian Washington) before being deflected and caught near miraculously one handedly by Iowa sophomore defensive Micah Hyde. Most worrying of all was Pryor's demeanor and attitude after the sequence in which he could plain as day be seen mouthing "he cut; that's not my fault" before a reported incident in which he yelled and dismissed video coordinator turned quarterback coach Nic Siciliano from a post-play sideline huddle. The three points would ultimately prove all Ohio State had in them for the half, trailing for a second straight weekend going into the intermission. 

The second half started not unlike a week Pryor with Ohio State combining some of the same inefficiency and ineffectiveness that plagued their first halves, by also showing a renewed sense of zeal in their approach to the game. The new found vigor would culminate in Pryor finding an unaccounted for second tight end Reid Freigel. HIlariously enough earlier in the week during media sessions, Pryor had addressed #88 to reporters as "that backup guy"; there's no doubting the two were closer to being on a first name basis after the go-ahead score made things 10-7 Buckeyes.

The ensuing Iowa drive would find Ricky Stanzi again having success moving the ball down the field before one of the most contentious moments of the (now) evening when Ohio State strong safety Jermale Hines leveled McNutt in a play that in fast action seemed innocuous (besides the involuntary collision sustained by the Hawkeyes receiver). A fifteen yard penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver drew the ire of Jim Tressel for the second time in the contest  and helped contribute to the equalizing field goal by Iowa. After an ill conceived follow up drive by the Buckeyes, Ohio State's defense returned to the field as did the same poor zone coverage that gave Iowa the ability to sustain drives for the better part of the afternoon. The two sides would head into the fourth level at 10 a piece.

After forcing an Iowa punt, Ohio State resumed possession of the ball with a chance to drive an take control of the contest. Terrelle Pryor's judgement had other ideas as the junior made the poorly derived decision to throw off balance from one foot on the run into traffic to a flanked Dane Sanzenbacher, ultimately leading to another deflection and another Iowa turnover, this one by Omaha, Nebraska product junior safety Shaun Prater. Capitalizing on the terse shift of momentum, the Hawkeyes would reap the benefits of a 26-yard Marcus Coker scramble that would set up a one-yard punch in by the freshman on the very next play and give Iowa a 17-10 lead following a successful point after try.

The ensuing Ohio State drive continued to move away from the effective running the team had showcased two weeks prior, whether by respect of a highly talented defensive line unit, a lack of rhythm, or strategic impropriety, perhaps we'll never know. In spite of finding success behind a less experienced, less effective offensive line a year prior (and against a more elite Iowa linebacking corp to boot), the Buckeyes continued to move the ball down the field primarily through the air and with Pryor having to make things come together with his feet. Buckeye freshman wide receiver Corey "Philly" Brown continued a rough afternoon after being unable to bring in a long throw from Pryor that could've put the position in prime positioned to level things. Instead the Buckeyes turned to the foot of senior Devin Barclay, who proceeded to reward their faith on a wing and a prayer in the form of converting a career long 48-yard field goal to bring Ohio State within four, 13-17.

Iowa's possession to follow would be dominated by sophomore defensive tackle John Simon. The Youngstown Cardinal Mooney alum would sack Ricky Stanzi on first down only to bat down a pass attempt effort on third to breathe new life into the now time constrained Buckeyes. While Terrelle Pryor's body language grabbing his helmet on the sideline seemed mixed at best, the resulting effort would speak far louder than the vague inferences gained from watching him act mildly indifferent. The drive got off to a start with the fresh legs of Brandon Saine scampering for a first down. The next two plays would setup the almost Ryan Hamby moment of the season, when junior receiver DeVier Posey broke away from coverage at the exact moment Terrelle Pryor took the initiative to throw the ball deep in his direction. With a floating, nearly perfectly thrown ball descending from the heavens, Posey promptly allowed the pigskin to slip through this extended arms and fall lifelessly to the ground in what would've surely been the go ahead touchdown. Having to regroup emotionally in a hurry, Terrelle Pryor would scramble on a fourth-and-ten and just narrowly convert to extend the drive (and for all intents and purposes, the game, for the Buckeyes).

The penultimate sequence would play out on the very next play when Terrelle Pryor found Dane Sanzenbacher narrowly down the edge of the right sideline in a play that had to had all watching reminiscing of Troy Smith finding Anthony Gonzalez late in the fourth quarter against Michigan in 2005. After a lengthy review, Ohio State would give the honors from within the three yard line to Herron to score the aforementioned touchdown and go ahead in strike in Ohio State's second victory in as many classic contests against the Hawkeyes. Iowa would have a drive to answer with three time outs at that, but no until after Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz had allowed Jim Tressel to run off nearly 40 seconds in lieu of keeping his timeouts unadulterated. 

The first play of the next drive would reprieve the controversy surrounding Hines but this time play out in the favor of the opposing side. Hines exploded on tailback Adam Robinson, almost a full second prior to the ball arriving according to replay, but was able to avoid any kind of penalty associated with the act, much to the chagrin of the Knnick faithful. Robinson appeared to almost be weaving as he walked to his sidelines on a night he likely physically won't be able to remember much of. The next play marked the return of the sophomore Simon who pressured and chased the Hawkeyes quarterback forcing an incompletion to the sideline. Third down would result in the noticeably quiet during the 2010 season Cameron Heyward, who despite early successful pressure against the Hawkeyes, had yet to record a quarterback sack on the afternoon until he blindsided the pocket awareness lacking Stanzi. With but bleak hopes and 21 yards to go to extend the drive, Stanzi found McNutt who would instead by tackled by Ross Homan short and turn the ball over on downs to the Buckeyes.

After giving the ball to Boom Herron three straight plays, Ohio State ate up the remaining time and escaped Iowa City with genuine BCS aspirations alive and well. Another year, another game you'll be hard pressed not to recall vivid details at a Thanksgiving dinner ten or fifteen years down the road to friends and family. Almost makes it easy to neglect to consider the week that lies ahead, but in doing so you would likely be going against the very nature of the type of individual you'd have to be to be perusing this summary. Michigan lies on the horizon with yet another opportunity to write history you won't soon forget.


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Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Well done Luke. Great way to describe the feeling of this game.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Screw pink locker rooms, give me JT any day. 

Matt's picture

A bit overwrought, but your heart is in the right place.  Go Bucks.

Irricoir's picture

Yep, I wondered if some kid with a thesaurus was posting his first "post game" summary. As the narrative continued, it started to flow with a little more consistancy and was easier to track. I appreciate the time and effort!

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Great win.

Homan did not seem like he is fully 100 percent yet. Fortunately, the hedgehog really brought it.

Back slaps for Barclay and the kick coverage. Also, O. Johnson has made some strides, even if he almost got victimized in the 1Q.  

Buckeye in Athens's picture

Interesting stats from the ozone - there were 7 drops on the day and Philly made his first career start. I bet the WR's (Dane excluded) are going to get a talking to tomorrow.. 

Luke's picture

Dane had that one uncharacteristic drop too. Maybe they should all have to run stadium stairs tomorrow.

buckeyedude's picture

Yes, he did. Very uncharacteristic of him. He did redeem himself though, I thought. Even Dane is allowed a mulligan every now and again, isn't he? LOL.



BuckeyeChief's picture

Great game! I just got home and watched the fourth quarter...awesome. The Jim Tressel era has been a magic carpet ride, and I hope it never ends!


The funny thing is, I was at my kid's birthday party, getting game texts from a buddy. He mistakenly wrote "End of the 4th quarter" instead of third, so when Iowa went up 17-10, I thought we lost until I get a text about the field goal....I thought we had lost!!!!

"2014 National with it!!!"

robert goulet's picture

We won and it was an ordeal.  But it's over and you all know what that means: BEAT MICHIGAN!!!!  

Powers's picture


gwalther's picture

I love Jim Tressel.

Class of 2008

MirrorLakeJump's picture

Any video clips of Pryor's 4th down play, or that whole drive? At that point I was "watching" the game on my phone's scoreboard.

Buckeye Black's picture

You can watch the whole game again on or on your Xbox 360.

buckeyedude's picture

I agree with you on the special teams. Seems to me they have improved much in the last few weeks. I bet Tressel spent a lot of time on them during the bye week.

I love TP(In a brotherly way) and am glad he's on our side, but can't help wondering what kind of numbers Dane would have, had he had a more prolific passer throwing to him.

I hope Tressel is recruiting someone that can catch the ball, because all of our receivers seem to have the dropsies.

In high school news up here in Toledo, Whitmer beat St. Johns to advance to the Ohio Division I State Semi-finals vs. Lakewood St. Edward. You may remember Whitmer has OSU commit DE/TE Kenny Hayes and OSU recruit DE Chris Wormley(6'6" and 6'7" and 250lbs each, respectively) playing for them. Would love to see Braxton Miller and Huber Heights Wayne H.S. play Whitmer for the state championship, but Wayne has to get by Hilliard Davidson, the defending D-I champs, in the state semi-finals.



SouthBayBuckeye's picture

TP may not be Peyton Manning, but he still puts up decent numbers for a QB outside of SEC/run-up-the-scoresville.  As fro Dane's numbers, 102 yards sounds pretty good for a game.  

TP also would have had some more without those drops. 


Al in all I'l take TP over anyone that's not on Tecmo Bowl because it's my opinion that he is the most dangerous player out there on 3rd, and if necessary 4th down.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

buckeyedude's picture

True. True.



Kalamazoo Steve's picture

After some recovery time to gain a little perspective, it was probably a very good thing that Posey dropped that ball.  Otherwise Iowa gets the ball back with what, 5 min. to play and all their time outs.  That mistake allowed a lot more time to get chewed off the clock.

Just sayin.

Normal Buck's picture

I was thinking the same thing.  As such, this is what kept me from making a Taurian Posey comment.  Oops. . .

doodah_man's picture

I have admired the consistency of this blog for years, but Luke, you have transcended the label  "Blog"...great journalism...

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

Bucksfan's picture

We in trouble next year at WR.

cowboy's picture

maybe, maybe not, duron could return, tim spencers son comming on board, brown will have a bit more experience and we look good at tight end.....if we use them! depth at wr looks good to me for future and posey's drop made me sick!!!! think we may be ok if the coaches play the best players.  carters return would be awesome if he is right. lots of talent in the waiting @ wr. late

Bucksfan's picture

Carter was an unreliable option even when he was on the roster.  We didn't know if he was going to play from week to week...just like his mentor Ray Small.  When he did play, he was only "okay" in my book.  I'm not about to count on him returning to the team, and even if he does we don't know if he'll be any good.  He's also an idiot and doesn't represent his father's shadow very well.

Brown I guess has been injured for part of the year, but when he did play he wasn't very effective.  Yesterday he looked like the rookie he is.

Sanz graduates, and Posey is having a year like Ted Ginn's sophomore season...only Posey is now a junior.  If Posey returns, and it's likely he will now that he flopped a game-winning wide open TD grab on national TV, we still just don't know if he's going to be Julio Jones-style good.  So far he hasn't come close.

So, this may boil down to a disagreement amongst the fanbase.  Watching Tressel and Bollman start freshmen that aren't showing anything special during games tells me that there is no depth at the position.  Losing Sanz is going to hurt big.

All of this may boil down to Pryor not being very good.  He's not Zwick or Boeckman-bad...but he's certainly no Troy Smith.

Denny's picture

Carter was an unreliable option even when he was on the roster.  We didn't know if he was going to play from week to week.

He also was a true freshman.


Irricoir's picture

Julio Jones? Please... He is already identical to Julio Jones in the performance category. Catches balls that are hard to catch and drops the ones that appear routine. Truly hope your not enamoured with Julio, if so I would wonder if you've watched him play all year. I live in Alabama so you can count that I have.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

There were some VERY questionable calls against tOSU and a few horrible non-calls for Iowa. Philharmonic Brown basically for his head ripped off and there was no penalty for a personal foul or pass intereference. Yet Hines and Chekwa both were flagged for less violent hits/pass breakups. I really think the Big Ten has some of the WORST officiating in college football. And TP had a descent game. Take away the lucky interception, and there would be no clamoring by anyone. Herbstriet included. I have really come to dislike Herbie over the years. Defector and SEC mancrush haver.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

AJ's picture

herbie calls it like he sees it...

"Without winners, there wouldn't even be civilization." -----------Woody Hayes

buckeyedude's picture

Disagree with you on Herbstriet. He can't be a Homer when he's calling a game.



RBuck's picture

Anybody know if the one rush by Saine for 11 was his only appearance in the game. Seemed to me they coulda/shoulda used him in the slot a little bit. Maybe a few passes and maybe even one end around. 

Long live the southend.

Buckeye Black's picture

They are saving him for this week and the bowl game.  It's M*ch*g*n week, and Tressel will throw some wrinkles in there!

Colin's picture

He was definitely in the game more than that but I think that might have been his only touch. He ran as the lead blocker for TP on quite a few runs.

Kurt's picture

Luke, great use of the word penultimate!

Luke's picture

Thanks and thanks to everyone else who offered the high praise. Beat Michigan.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

I know he calls it like he sees it. But since we lost to Florida, he has gone out of his way to blast the Big Ten and tOSU. And I meant Philly Brown. Stupid spellcheck on my DROID smartphone.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama