Iowa Debriefing: Iowa Slices Up Ohio State's Back Seven, Buckeye Offense Sputters & Johnnie Dixon Scores Every Other Catch

By Kevin Harrish on November 5, 2017 at 8:05 am
Nate Stanley carved up Ohio State.

Ohio State got obliterated.

That wasn't just a hangover game or some Kinnick black magic – Ohio State got absolutely thumped.

Nate Stanley sliced up the Buckeyes' back seven for five touchdowns while J.T. Barrett threw four times as many interceptions as he had all season, Akrum Wadley outrushed all three of Ohio State's running backs combined and the Hawkeyes outgained the Buckeyes by over 100 yards.

Ohio State closed as 21-point favorites on Saturday and left Iowa City with a 31-point loss just one week after the Buckeyes seemed to have everything figured out. It's without doubt the most perplexing loss since Urban Meyer's arrival in Columbus.

Let's debrief.

What Went Wrong?

Iowa came in with an excellent game plan and executed while the Buckeyes did neither.

On defense, Iowa had a specific plan for both run and pass situations. On typical running downs, the Hawkeye sent their linebackers to attack the running back and force J.T. Barrett to keep the ball while the safeties had eyes in the backfield to bottle him up for a short gain.

On passing downs, the Iowa essentially spied Barrett with its two defensive tackles, batting a number of balls down at the line of scrimmage to take away the crossing routes and also not allow Barrett to scramble up the middle.

Offensively, the Hawkeyes didn't seem to do much besides take advantage of out-of-position linebackers and safeties, and the Buckeyes never got a consistent pass rush to make things difficult. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley threw 226 yards and five touchdowns and was sacked just once.

Silver Linings

Folks, I'm going to be honest – there aren't that many, but I'm going to try my best.

  • Ohio State is still in the drivers seat for its first Big Ten Championship since 2014.
  • The Buckeyes still have a chance to beat Michigan for the sixth-straight season.
  • The kickoff coverage looked good.
  • Nick Bosa will be back for the entire game next week.

That's all I've got.

Who Earned a Buckeye Leaf?

Offense: Johnnie Dixon

In a game where nobody seemed to play exceptionally well, Johnnie Dixon did.

Dixon had four catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns, including a 44-yard deep ball from J.T. Barrett in the first quarter.

The stat line was pretty on par with how he's performed all season, scoring a touchdown every other time he catches a pass. So far this season, Dixon has 17 catches and eight touchdowns.

Based on these trends, expect his next catch to go for six.

Defense: Denzel Ward

It's really hard to find a defensive MVP when your team gives up 55 points and doesn't force a turnover the entire game, but Denzel Ward probably deserves this recognition because for the most part, he did his job.

Ohio State's back seven were atrocious most of the game, but Ward was lock down most of the game – as he has been all season. He finished the game with just one tackle and one pass break up, but it's hard to quantify his impact on the game.

Plays of the Game


Just one week after playing the game of his life, J.T. Barrett played a game that was decidedly not the game of his life, throwing four interceptions, including a pick six on his first throw of the game.

However, he wasn't all bad. He did make a few beautiful throws including the one to Johnnie Dixon above as well as this one to Terry McLaurin.

Ohio State seemed to have little trouble moving the ball at the beginning of the game, especially through the air on chunk plays, but the Buckeye offense really stalled midway through the second quarter and never recovered.


There was one phenomenal defensive play on Saturday that we should all appreciate, it just didn't come courtesy of a Buckeye. We're not going to pretend otherwise, and we're just going to show you that one instead.

The game was already very much decided at this point, but Josh Jackson made an absolutely ridiculous one-handed interception on a J.T. Barrett pass thrown to Binjimen Victor.

That was Jackson third interception of the game, which means he alone had three times as many interceptions against Barrett as any other team Ohio State faced this season.

Biggest Surprise

 Uh, the score?

Look, I'm not surprised Ohio State lost. In fact, I predicted the Buckeyes would lose this game during our preseason predictions, but not like this. I expected some late-game sorcery where the Hawkeyes ended up on top, against all odds.

It was the perfect opportunity for a trap game: Ohio State was taking on a home underdog Iowa team that's better than its record indicates in front of a blackout crowd, in a stadium where weird things are known to happen, after an exhausting comeback victory in perhaps the biggest game of the season which proved to the nation that the Buckeyes were for real.

Only, as I mentioned before, this wasn't a trap game – Ohio State just got blasted.

Iowa put up 55 points, the most points ever scored on an Urban Meyer-coached team, and won by 31. I never expected that, and I don't think anybody else did, either.

Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment

Jim Tressel was a nervous wreck before Saturday's game. His fragile heart just could not handle any more special teams disasters.

His wife, Ellen, sensing his anxiety, decided to take him out of the house to get his mind off things. It was the least she could do since she would be leaving him to watch the game alone, as she had a baby shower to attend.

The pair ran a few errands at Bed Bath & Beyond, had a nice lunch at a small soup and sandwich shop and then spent the rest of the afternoon at a local flea market before returning home just in time for kickoff.

Jim assured his wife he would be fine, and sent her on her way with kiss.

Ellen returned a few hours later to find her husband sitting silently in the dimly lit den with the television no longer turned on. She knew things had not gone well.

"I don't get it," Jim said dejectedly before she could even greet him. "This was the best game they've played all year. The kickoffs were perfect, they didn't miss a field goal, and the punts were all booming."

"Maybe there's just more to winning than kicking?" Ellen asked cautiously.

Jim didn't say a word in response. He just calmly stood up, walked to the bedroom and shut the door behind him.

Biggest Blunder

Late in the second quarter, Nick Bosa made helmet-to-helmet contact with Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley and was ejected for targeting.

To make matters worse, the play resulted in an incompletion that would have ended the drive and given the ball back to Ohio State with the game tied at 17 with just over three minutes in the half. Instead, Iowa got a free 15 yards and a first down and scored the very next play to make it 24-17.

You can argue about the ruling all day, but that's an unnecessary hit Bosa just can't make.

Underrated Things

O-Line Injuries

Ohio State has had some incredible luck with its health on the offensive line since Urban Meyer's arrival in Columbus, but the luck seems to have run out this season.

Until this season, Meyer had never lost an offensive lineman to an injury for an extended period of time. This year, the Buckeyes lost starting right guard Branden Bowen to a broken leg against Maryland, and they had a few more scares on Saturday.

On back-to-back plays, Jamarco Jones and Demetrius Knox left with apparent leg injuries. Thankfully, the injuries didn't prove serious. Jones returned later in the drive and Knox returned the next series.

Two-Loss Season

Ohio State's loss to Iowa ensures that Urban Meyer will finish with his worst regular-season record since his arrival in Columbus, as it's the first time the Buckeyes have lost more than one regular-season game since the 2011 season.

This probably says more about Meyer's overall success at Ohio State than it does about this season's failure – a two-loss season is Meyer's worst regular season yet.

It Was Over When

Colten Rastetter, Iowa's punter, completed a pass to long snapper Tyler Kluver thanks to some fourth-down trickery. The Hawkeyes scored a few plays later to make it 38-17 at the end of the third quarter. It felt like the dagger, and it probably was – in the third quarter.

Biggest Question Going Forward

Obviously, College Football Playoff hopes are now dead. The Buckeyes are all but eliminated from national title contention. How will the team respond to that? Will it fold, or will the loss make the Buckeyes even more hungry? There's plenty to play for – Ohio State is still in the drivers seat to win its first Big Ten championship since 2014, and of course, it can still beat Michigan for the sixth-straight time.

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