How Ohio State recovers from disaster at Iowa is worth watching in muddled Big Ten

Disaster. 

There’s no other way to describe Iowa’s 55-24 blowout at Kinnick Stadium from No. 6 Ohio State’s point of view. Where do you start? It gives the Buckeyes two losses. It complicates the Big Ten’s College Football Playoff picture. It’s one of the most inexplicable losses of the Urban Meyer era at Ohio State (7-2, 5-1).

MORE: Big Ten’s playoff hopes take massive hit

It started on the first play from scrimmage when J.T. Barrett — one week removed from a Heisman-caliber performance against Penn State in a thrilling 39-38 victory — threw into coverage and watched Iowa’s Amani Hooker run 30 yards for a pick-six that gave the Hawkeyes a quick 7-0 lead.

Disaster. Two first-half interceptions by Barrett. Three first-half touchdown passes by Iowa’s Nate Stanley. Nick Bosa’s ejection. A 31-17 deficit at halftime. You figured a Meyer-coached team might adjust, even in this hostile environment, but it only got worse. 

Iowa didn’t just nip Ohio State in one of those patented Kinnick Stadium traps. The Hawkeyes demolished the Buckeyes. Barrett threw four interceptions. Stanley threw five touchdowns. Bosa’s ejection played a role, but one factor wasn’t the culprit. Too many things went wrong for the Buckeyes in this meltdown.

Ohio State, for the first time in a long time, was out-classed in Big Ten play. This was the Buckeyes’ worst loss since Meyer led Florida to a 41-14 victory against Ohio State in the 2007 BCS national championship game.

MORE: Michigan State shocks Penn State

That’s where the recovery starts. For the first time since 2012 — when the Buckeyes were ineligible for postseason play — Meyer has an Ohio State team that’s all but out of the College Football Playoff race with three regular-season games left. The painful irony is that the Buckeyes can still take control of the Big Ten East Division with a victory against No. 24 Michigan State next Saturday. The Spartans beat No. 7 Penn State 27-24 on Saturday.

Ohio State can play for the regular-season finale against Michigan, the Big Ten East and a Big Ten championship, too, but it almost certainly won’t play for a playoff spot unless chaos reaches unseen levels over the next four weeks. How is that going to feel? How will the Buckeyes react to that unfamiliar territory? How will Meyer coach around it?

That’s difficult to say right now when there are even more questions in Columbus right now.

What does this mean for Barrett? One week after playing like a Heisman front runner, he offered a dud against the Hawkeyes. Ohio State ran the ball effectively but didn’t run the ball enough. J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber combined for 11 carries. That’s not enough on the road. Nowhere close.

BENDER: Auburn pretender or contender? Jarrett Stidham will decide 

The defense was a letdown, however. Iowa totaled 487 yards, averaged 7.6 yards per pass and converted 5 of 12 on third down. The Hawkeyes’ traditional offense shredded the Buckeyes, with or without Bosa. 

Some heat will fall on offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, but in the end Meyer will assume responsibility. These are grim realities for a program with a national championship-or-else approach to each season that rarely encounters a disaster.

This as much worse than the the 31-16 loss to Oklahoma on Sept. 9. That was salvageable. A 31-point loss to the Hawkeyes was unfathomable, even in a game that was labeled a trap all week. That’s what happened in Iowa City on Saturday.

A disaster. A total freaking disaster.

There’s no other way to say it. 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here