What a difference a week makes.
Fresh off a then-season-saving comeback win over Penn State, Urban Meyer's team said all the right things this week about avoiding a letdown before laying an egg in a 55-24 loss against a game Iowa squad in a dank but raucous Kinnick Stadium.
The loss saw the Buckeyes give up the most points of the Urban Meyer era as part of a 487 yard, 7.0 yards per play, 24 first down outing from an Iowa offense which managed just 27 points in its two previous games combined.
Joining the defense's dismal effort, quarterback J.T. Barrett had his own poor showing with a career-high four interceptions including a pick-six as the Hawkeye braintrust completely outmaneuvered Meyer, Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day.
Speaking of coaches, it's a little embarrassing Meyer's postgame presser barely exceeded three minutes and Wilson nor Greg Schiano were made available. Instead of the grown, well-paid, former head coaches coming out to own the debacle, that task was left to Billy Price and Tyquan Lewis. What lovely icing on the urinal cake.
While the blowout removes Ohio State from the College Football Playoff discussion there's still conference championship game potential via winning the Big Ten East where the Buckeyes find themselves tied with next weekend's opponent, Michigan State, both sporting a 5-1 conference mark.
Before turning our attention to the Fighting Dantonios, here are Five Things from yesterday's disappointing showing in Iowa City.
OVER UNDER DONE
Similar to their nightmarish performance against Oklahoma earlier this year, Ohio State's linebackers and safeties made the opponent's tight ends and running backs look like pro bowl pass catchers.
Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley repeatedly exposed linebackers Chris Worley, Dante Booker and Jerome Baker along with safety Damon Webb (and to a lesser extent Jordan Fuller) in coverage as Iowa's tight ends tallied nine receptions on 12 targets for 125 yards and four touchdowns. No, you read that right, NINE catches, 125 yards and four touchdowns on a 75% completion rate.
The running backs weren't quite as prolific posting four catches for 42 yards and a touchdown on four targets but obviously they didn't need to be with tight ends T.J. Hockenson (5/71) and Noah Fant (4/54) roaming free over the middle all afternoon.
For comparison, mostly checked by cornerbacks, Iowa's wideouts came up with seven receptions on 12 targets for 59 yards and zero touchdowns.
The book is out on how – or more like who – to attack Ohio State through the air, it just comes down to execution which wasn't helped by virtually no pressure on the quarterback which we'll get to in a minute.
Ohio State's vaunted defensive line stole the show against Penn State amassing 7.5 TFL and two sacks as the entire defense went for 13 TFL.
Against an Iowa offensive line featuring two freshmen at the tackle spots however, Larry Johnson's often-dominant defensive line could never really get anything going.
The group posted just one sack (Tyquan Lewis) and 1.5 TFL (Lewis 1.0, Bosa 0.5) as Iowa racked up a ridiculous 243 rushing yards on 6.4 per carry led by Akrum Wadley's 20-carry, 118-yard effort.
With the line unable to disrupt things up front, Stanley and the Hawkeye offensive staff carved up the Buckeyes with five scoring drives of 60+ yards, posting just two 3-and-outs in 13 possessions.
The inept pass defense down the middle and Barrett's four picks certainly rank above the defensive line in culpability but we've grown accustomed to expecting a lot more from the front four rotation.
SWEET AND SOUR
J.T. Barrett was so good last week in leading Ohio State's thrilling 18-point comeback win he vaulted himself into the Heisman race as he completed 33 of 39 passes (three drops) for 328 yards and four touchdowns with another 95 yards on the ground.
Yesterday he erased his name from any such consideration, crippling Ohio State's playoff chances in the process.
As a noted lifelong J.T. Barrett supporter/apologist I think it's fair to question the overall offensive game plan for Iowa but the bottom line is Barrett's hung his career value on being efficient and mistake-free and that obviously wasn't the case versus the Hawkeyes as he tossed four interceptions after recording just one (with 25 touchdowns) in Ohio State's first eight games.
His pick-six on Ohio State's first play from scrimmage set the tone and once Ohio State got behind, his inability to consistently hit the deep ball became a huge issue as he misfired on a couple deep throws – one short of a wide open Terry McLaurin early in the second half – further emboldening Iowa's safeties to camp out near the line of scrimmage, compressing a a predictable offense already looking like it was trying to operate in a phone booth.
Ohio State's offensive line, despite injuries costing starters a few plays, held up fairly well meaning it wasn't like Barrett was running for his life or forced to continuously get rid of the ball before he wanted to as Iowa recorded just one sack and one TFL.
Barrett's detractors are once again out in full force and the reality once again remains Barrett gives Ohio State the best chance to win. As such, Barrett (and his receivers) must regain the mojo for Ohio State to stay in the B1G championship race as Michigan State will undoubtedly employ a similar defensive scheme particularly with regard to how the safeties press the action.
MR. HANKY - EPISODE NINE
The most penalized squad of Meyer's tenure was up to its usual tricks versus the Hawkeyes racking up nine penalties for 95 yards.
The 95 penalty yards ranked as the second-most this year (106 vs. Rutgers) while the nine flags were the third-most.
Ranked 123rd out of 130 teams with an average of 75 penalty yards per game heading into the Iowa matchup, yesterday's total only furthered Ohio State's troubles.
Tied 7-7 early on, an offsides by Dre'Mont Jones and an unnecessary roughness call on Chris Worley extended a field goal drive giving Iowa a 10-7 lead.
A Demetrius Knox holding call eliminated a 10-yard Barrett run shortly thereafter but the biggest flag occurred after Iowa regained possession.
Tied at 17 but still searching for momentum, Ohio State's defense was close to getting a second-straight stop as Iowa faced a 3rd-and-10 at the OSU 40 but just as Stanley intentionally threw the ball away, Nick Bosa lunged and went helmet-to-helmet drawing a roughing call and an ejection that wasn't really questionable in this day and age no matter how rose-colored your glasses or innocuous the hit.
Holding penalties on two separate kickoff returns negated what would've been decent field position near midfield, instead forcing a struggling offense to start inside its own 15-yard line.
Worley added a holding penalty to his earlier roughing call. Michael Jordan was whistled for a hold and I think Knox may have had a second holding call late but my attention span was pretty glazed over by then as the celebratory howls from exuberant but polite Hawkeye fans meshed with increasing apathy.
Overall, it was another pathetic showing from a team hellbent on refusing to become more disciplined.
Seriously, 71 penalties through nine games? Ohio State had 73 penalties in 14 games back in 2013, and that was still only good for 67th-best in the country. Total nonsense.
PARDON MY REACH
Positives are hard to find when the Buckeyes are favored by 17 and lose by 31 but after spending an otherwise memorable weekend in Iowa City trying to celebrate the life of a great friend gone too soon (and the third writer to join Eleven Warriors) with his mom, dad, brother and other family and Iowa friends (Corey went to undergrad here), I just don't feel like ending this Five Things on a low note.
Thanks to Iowa City for the hospitality (hat tip to The Airliner, Joseph's, and Deadwood) and to Corey's family and friends for making the time to come together and toast a few in his honor.
That said, props to Johnnie Dixon for continuing his comeback from like 75 knee issues with another two touchdowns as part of a day featuring four catches for 81 yards.
Dixon's 44-yard hook up with Barrett tying the game at 17 gave OSU fans every reason to believe the Buckeyes might keep pace and eventually overtake the Hawkeyes.
His second touchdown of the day, a 22-yarder, came with the game out of hand but still gave Dixon a team-leading eight TD grabs on the season after entering 2017 with only seven receptions and zero touchdowns in his Buckeye career.
A big play machine, Dixon entered the game with those six touchdown catches going for an average of 38.7 yards which means even after 44 and 22-yard scoring strikes his average yards per touchdown catch actually dipped to just 37.3 yards.
Despite missing one game Dixon ranks second on the team with 413 receiving yards and leads all Buckeye receivers with 24.3 yards per catch.
I'll owe an Arby's combo meal to fellow staffer Kevin as soon as Dixon reaches the 500 yard mark which is a bet I'm happy to lose; I just hope it comes next weekend.