Flashback: Ohio State vs. Iowa, 2005

By Joe Beale on October 16, 2013 at 1:45p
Bad idea to extend yourself that way with a speedy defender bearing down.

It would be an understatement to say that Ohio State was out for revenge against Iowa in 2005. They felt it. They needed it. A cleansing was necessary. It was like having an open wound for a full year and finally getting a chance to bandage it.

The 2004 season had been a roller-coaster ride for OSU players and fans alike, but the low point was definitely that afternoon in Iowa City when the Buckeyes were humiliated by Drew Tate and the Hawkeyes, 33-7. The debt accrued by that public thrashing would need to be repaid. Revenge would have to be taken.

Even offensive coordinator and theoretical offensive line coach Jim Bollman grasped the difference one year would make. Interviewed after the San Diego State contest the week before, he seemed delighted to be going up against Iowa the next week and practically salivated at the prospect of matching up with their suddenly inexperienced defensive line. It's not unusual for college teams to become suddenly weak at one area due to players completing eligibility. It is unusual for an opposing coach to start taunting that team about their weakness one week in advance. 

A weak Iowa defensive line would be just the tonic that this Buckeye squad needed to get its offense going. Through the first three games of the season, the team had driven the ball well at times, but had a lot of trouble finishing in the red zone and as a result frequently settled for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. The lack of scoring punch had already cost them one game.

After a lackluster 34-14 win over Miami (OH), OSU faced the Texas Longhorns at home, the first meeting ever between the two storied programs. Ohio State struggled on offense, despite getting good field position after three Texas turnovers. Placekicker Josh Huston tied a school record with five field goals, but the team ultimately fell to Vince Young and the Horns, 25-22. 

It was thought that San Diego State would be a sacrificial lamb for the Buckeyes to take out their frustrations against, but again the Buckeyes struggled to finish drives, turning the ball over twice and settling for two more field goals on their way to a 27-6 victory. The team actually trailed the Aztecs 6-0 after they surrendered an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the game.

And did I mention the quarterback controversy? Ironically, this had begun the previous season, when the Buckeyes were rallying from their lowest point in the season to grab one bit of dignity out of a bucket of ignominy. Yes, that was the 33-7 loss at Iowa. The depths of that awful defeat led to the discovery of the arm that would guide them to greater glory. 

Troy Smith engineered Ohio State's only touchdown drive on the Buckeyes' last possession, hitting Rory Nicol with a 23-yard pass for the score. After that, Smith was elevated to starter over Justin Zwick and he led the team to wins in four of their last five contests, including a soul-cleansing 37-21 victory over Rose Bowl-bound Michigan.

So how did the controversy develop? Shortly after the win over UM, it was discovered that Smith had taken $500 from a booster, and he was suspended for two games. Zwick led the team to victory in their bowl game and against Miami the next season as Smith sat. Both QBs played against Texas but neither distinguished himself. Smith won back the starting job the next week, but was rusty even in victory. 

I think this one is going to be on target.Troy Smith got it cranked up against Iowa.

Iowa's inexperienced defensive line was indeed the right medicine to cure what ailed the Buckeye offense. As it turned out, Ohio State dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and crushed the Hawkeyes 31-6 in a game that was not even as close as the score indicated. 

OSU piled up 314 yards rushing and 530 yards overall on 81 offensive plays, holding the ball for over 39 minutes in the process. The Buckeye defense also did their part, holding Iowa to 137 total yards on 67 offensive plays, 146 yards in the air and minus nine yards on the ground. Not only did they physically punish the Hawkeyes, but they got to them mentally as well.

Iowa quarterback Drew Tate had passed and run at will against the Buckeyes in Iowa City the previous year, notching his second straight 300-yard passing game. His whirling-arm celebration after one particular touchdown pass was replayed endlessly on game highlights afterward. But in this game, his emotions would again come to the surface, and not in a good way.

The Ohio State defense, led by linebackers A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter, pressured Tate relentlessly the entire game, and then contained him when he tried to run out of the pocket. For every move Tate made, Hawk and company seemed to have an answer. His running game was going nowhere and his receivers were not getting open.

Finally, boiling over in frustration after being sacked outside the pocket by Carpenter, Tate jumped up and spiked the football. Carpenter immediately pointed this out to the nearby officials, and they dutifully flagged the Iowa QB for unsportsmanlike conduct. It was a microcosm of the game in general, the perfect absolute opposite of his celebration the previous year. Revenge taken, wounds healed.

For his part, Smith seemed to regain the brashness and the daring he had displayed late in 2004, before the untimely suspension. He was everything that Tate was not, going for 191 yards and two touchdowns through the air and also gashing the Hawkeyes for 127 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground. There was no arm-windmill act on this day, but a message was sent nonetheless. Confidence regained, controversy ended.

It would not be the end of the struggles, however. The very next week at Penn State, the offense again ran into problems, this time courtesy of a very good defense. The Nittany Lions prevailed, 17-10, on their way to an 11-1 season in which they would finish ranked No. 3 in the country. After that game, Ohio State would reel off 7 straight victories, including a thrilling 25-21 win at Michigan and a resounding 34-20 triumph over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Having thus defeated two of college football's most celebrated programs, the Buckeyes finished the season right behind Penn State at #4, setting them up to make a run for ultimate glory the next season.


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45has2's picture

"Theoretical offensive line coach, Jim Bollman." BRILLIANT!

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

InHartWeTrust's picture

Dude I literally lol'd at my desk when I read that in the article.  Bra-fucking-vo, Joe.

buckeye56's picture

I will take to my grave the belief that if Justin Zwick never gets hurt at Iowa in 2004, forcing Tressel to play Troy Smith, that he sticks with Zwick and Troy transfers at the end of the season. The only reason Troy was ever put in the game was the injury to Zwick, who had been bad up to that point in the season.

Buckeye06's picture

Why did I remember Tate slamming his helmet, and not the ball, to the ground one time after Hawk sacked him?  I guess it could have been the ball but in my head it was his helmet with pieces flying everywhere

741's picture

I think he may have done that also (in addition to the ball spike). I sat on the 50yd line, AA behind the Iowa bench that game and had the time of my life. #schadenfreude

cconnelly's picture

I'll never forget that 2004 game because it took place on my wedding day.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  I shouldn't have scheduled my wedding on a Buckeye game day. 

Joe Beale's picture

So you're confessing that it's your fault Ohio State lost? Take your punishment like a man...

kareemabduljacobb's picture

Could've been my fault... living in Iowa, I was at the game :(  And it was my first tOSU game I went to in person.  Rather embarrassing, at least I got to see Troy Smith throw a late TD to Ginn.  

Joe Beale's picture

No you didn't; you saw him throw a late TD to Rory Nicol (see story above). He did throw to Ginn on that drive, for about 20 yards I believe on the first play of the drive. 

kareemabduljacobb's picture

Wow, my memory has disappointed me!  Thanks, I could've sworn it was to Ginn... ehh, my mind must have been completely gone after knowing what I would hear from Iowa fans for at least a year.  Thanks for the clarification, Joe!

cconnelly's picture

Ha!  Sure, you can blame me. 

Buckeye419er's picture

Following the OT win over Iowa in '09. Now that was a great game to watch. I knelt at the 50 and kissed the field that night. I haven't washed my lips since..ok that's a lie, but I didn't want to! lol.

There can be only one

headina's picture

So awesome! I thought I was the ONLY die hard ohio state buckeye AND oakland A's fan! Glad to know there is another!


The Buck Guy's picture

Yeah, I enjoyed that game. Hawks fans were so full of themselves. I look back fondly on the memories of their crushed egos.
The last time they came to the 'Shoe I took my Pops to the game, expecting to watch a whooping, but was surprised they took us to overtime.

This year I'm taking my daughter's roomie with me. Hopefully we get to see a shellacking this time around.

~ The Buck Guy
Go Bucks!!!!

BuckGnome's picture

I really believe, had Troy not run into trouble after the '04 season and continued to be the #1 in the Bowl and offseason/camp, the '05 Bucks would of had an excellent shot of another MNC that year.
Woulda coulda shoulda, I know.  However, without the offseason setback and Troy at the helm, I feel very confident the good guys would have prevailed against Texas that year.   The Penn St. game would still have been a tough one, but I think the Bucks pull it out in this scenario.
USC was all the rage that year, with many in the media ready to declare them as the GOAT before they even played in the championship game.   That was laughable, IMO.  While USC was an excellent and flashy team, I thought they were beatable.  Most of my friends kept predicting USC was going to smoke the Longhorns, and looked at me in disbelief when I I told them the Trojans would have no answer of VY, and that Texas was going to win.(I made some nice coin off of that game)
By the end of that season, after Troy's troubles had long since disappeared in the rear view mirror, the '05 Buckeyes could have played anyone.  To this day, I feel it should have been the Buckeyes who took down USC instead of Texas that year.
Alas, it wasn't to be.

dlb72osu's picture

Buckgnome - totally agree with your assessment of how 2005 would have turned out but for those $500.
Troy proved to be the epitome of a diamond in the rough for OSU. I do believe that Troy Smith is the only player in The Rivalry to gain over 1000 yards in The Game over his career. I know my acquaintances in mi*****n hate the mention of his name. Whereas Archie gained 100+ yards  in all four of his games vs ttun, Troy performed his feat in only three years.
Amazing stat line!

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

- Invictus

BuckGnome's picture

Yep, Troy was the ultimate Wolverine killer.
After the '05 game, many Mgoblog commentators began referring to him as "Black Christ" in the aftermath.(yes, I've been trolling there for quite a long time ;-)  )  It was wonderful!

fairvis's picture

Drew Tate's outburst occurred right in front of my position in the corner of the south end zone.  For the rest of the season my buddy Jason would scream "TATE" and throw things on the ground every time he had a mild frustration.  It was still funny a year later.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

a resounding 34-20 triumph over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.

That was one of the cooler games I went to during our Fiesta Bowl rampage.  Had GREAT seats with a buddy of mine from ASU and was in the corner of the endzone that we scored most of our touchdowns.  Plus, being able to give a good ribbing to ND fans about Brady Quinn and Chuckles Weiss was fun before and after the game. 

"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

Joe Beale's picture

From your sig...

Noah Spence kills quarterbacks, just to watch them die.

Is that a veiled Johnny Cash reference by any chance?