To the Booth: Iowa By the Numbers

By Chad Peltier on October 17, 2013 at 12:20p
Que soccer "run-around-the-field-screaming" celebration

To the Booth usually looks backwards at charting data while previewing the week's opponent at the same time, but this week we have the opportunity to be solely devoted to the B1G-ness of the Hawkeyes.

Iowa is perhaps the most Big Ten-y of all the B1G teams this year: mediocre offense (65th in the country in scoring offense – almost as mediocre as can be) and great-to-excellent defense (13th in the country in scoring defense).

How do the Buckeyes stack up? Well, I'll kill the suspense and go ahead and predict the Buckeyes will win. Below I take a look at the Iowa offense and defense and see how well the Buckeyes should do by the numbers.

The Iowa Offense

The Iowa offense of 2012 was historically bad, more content to move the ball horizontally than actually, you know, down the field for points. This year's 29.7 points per game is almost a miracle in comparison (even if that includes a 59-3 win against Western Michigan). 

  F/+ Pass YPA Rush YPA PPP Expl Play
Iowa Offense -3.6% (74) 7.09 4.46 .39 20 (111)
OSU Defense 8.9% (27) 6.95 2.69 .29 15 (7)
  • Besides Mark Weisman, champion over AIRBHG, I'm most impressed with the Iowa offensive line's ability to prevent sacks. They have only allowed five sacks all season (compared to OSU's eight). 
  • The passing game isn't very threatening, especially considering that their turnover ratio is -4 due mostly to Jake Ruddock's six interceptions. This is good for the Ohio State defense, which is clearly weak against the pass. 
  • We'll likely see more of the same defensive strategies used against Wisconsin and Northwestern as Withers and Fickell will first attempt to prevent Weisman from setting a high RBSR.
  • Iowa's offense runs a play every 23 seconds
  • One of the biggest mismatches is in explosive play margin. Simply enough, Iowa is one of the worst in the country in plays of 20+ yards, and somewhat surprisingly, Ohio State has been one of the best in preventing 20+ yard plays. Barring serious breakdowns in tackling, there shouldn't be many big plays when the Iowa offense has the ball.

Ohio State's defense has the edge over the Iowa offense according to every metric I track. Unless Ruddock starts slinging it to golden gloved receivers downfield, I feel confident about the Buckeye defense turning in a good game. 

A healthy dose of Hyde is just what the doctor ordered for the Iowa run defenseHyde wants to give Iowa's D its first opponent rush touchdown

Iowa on Defense

The Iowa defense, on the other hand, is more than competent – especially against the run. 

The best rushing team Iowa has faced was Northern Illinois and Iowa held them to 3.9 yards per carry (on 42 attempts!). Michigan State was the only other team to attempt to run as much as the Huskies, running 37 times for 3.7 yards per carry. 

So it's clear that the Hawkeyes are excellent against the run, but it's unclear exactly how good they are since only two teams have rushed more than 27 times in a game (that might be because the rush defense really is that good!). Carlos Hyde will find out on Saturday just how good this unit is.

They have surrendered an average 88 rushing yards per game and have notably not allowed a rushing touchdown yet. They are the only FBS team to not do so.

Meyer had some perspective on this last night: 

  F/+ Pass YPA Rush YPA PPP EXPL Play
IOWA Defense 14.4% (15) 5.59 3.07 .26 19 (19)
OSU Offense 12% (16) 7.49 6.08 .63 31 (36)
  • Talk about a matchup of strengths. The Iowa defense excels according to every metric I track with regularity. The F/+ numbers indicate that the matchup is a push, though.
  • The Iowa defense allows opponents .03 points per play less than Ohio State's, though I would argue that Wisconsin, Cal, and Northwestern all are better offenses than any team Iowa has faced, save maybe Northern Illinois.
  • The Iowa defense is geared to stop the run, which should allow for some opportunities with play action.
  • The Iowa offense is not about explosive plays, but neither is the defense, which has only allowed 19 plays of 20+ yards. 
  • Iowa's weakness on defense is definitely its pass rush, which only has six sacks (112th in the country). This makes me even more optimistic about play action. 

Comments Show All Comments

BUCKfutter's picture

Given how Iowa will key on Hyde, and the lack of film on Braxton running this year, I feel like this could be the game he starts to look more like 2012 Braxton on the ground.

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS

Ethos's picture

As long as the 2012 braxton you are talking about is November 2012 Braxton ;)

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

BUCKfutter's picture

Yes.  Hoping for 2013 Braxton through the air and 2012 Braxton on the ground.

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS

Chad Peltier's picture

Based on Urban's comments today and Iowa's strength against rushing offenses, I'm thinking Braxton will have the opportunity to impress us with his arm on Saturday. 

Hovenaut's picture

Ready to see it - all game long (or until the game is well in hand). 
The long passes he's connected on have been very impressive, looking to see that short to mid-range game take flight Saturday. 
He's due to pick apart an opponent, consistently, via his arm. 

kmp10's picture

The photo at the top of this piece just reminds me of how Nike ruined Ohio State's football pants this season. Bring back the thick black stripe (like the one/two off Wisconsin/TTUN? game uni pants)! It's sooooo much better than the current 'lil black pinstripe you can hardly see. White now dominates the pant stripe... and it blows. Sigh.

Ethos's picture

there is an easy solution, make those alternative uniforms they wore this year hte new uniform.  Nike would score big with the fans and the players.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

dlb72osu's picture

Agree on the pants, and whereas the rivalry jersey is kewl I favor the sleeves on the traditional jersey. I am so torn on the helmet. Whereas the mirrors are striking the silver helmet has been a kick-ass trademark of tOSU uniform for quite some time now.
The traditionalist in me is at odds with constant desire for change.

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

- Invictus

Doc's picture

I have two questions I hope you guys will answer.
1.  Please explain, or post a link to the meaning of the F/+ stat.
2.  What ever happened to Barclay after that kick.  I can not remember seeing that guy ever again after that.
Thanks a lot.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Chad Peltier's picture

You got it - Here's an explanation of F/+ and their full rankings. Here's what I could find about Barclay's post-Iowa kick life. Looks like he's doing well as a coach. 

Doc's picture

Thanks Chad.  I appreciate it.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

jedkat's picture

Besides Mark Weisman, champion over AIRBHG

whelp, you just jinxed the crap out of weisman.

"Can we please stop the message board fighting? I really can't stand the message board fighting..."

"No. You're an idiot, and your posts are terrible."

GoBucks713's picture

Chad, the only thing missing from this is the fact that Ricky Stanzy is an outstanding citizen and one hell of a model American.

-The Aristocrats!

Chad Peltier's picture

Any Iowa article is worthless without this information

steveoz49's picture

This could be the game where Wilson's speed becomes a factor as Iowa will most likely be keyed on Philly and Hyde. 

Seattle Linga's picture

Our air game will frustrate and force Iowa to change schematically and it will open up the running game.