Game Preview: Ohio State vs Iowa
Before we break down this weeks game, I want to take a moment to appreciate the week of football that happened during Ohio State’s off week last week. Tennessee won a big game against Alabama, and catapulted Hendon Hooker’s heisman campaign, but the question will be can they get past Kentucky and Georgia and earn a spot in Atlanta. Although the Tide were defeated, they still control their destiny in sweeping the SEC West and making it to Atlanta as well. There are a few certainty’s in college football, and one is as the leaves change, so do the teams who are starting to sort themselves from the pretenders and the contenders. Up to this point, the Buckeyes might be the best team in the country, and they have looked the most complete up to this point.
Based on this week’s hype video from the Ohio State creative team, the Buckeyes know what happened, and know what is still left on the table:
𝐜𝐡. 𝐕𝐈𝐈 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 🎥🔥🍿 pic.twitter.com/VbGsby1W9u— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) October 20, 2022
With a bye week to get healthy, the second half of the season will give us more clarity on who this Buckeye team is, and there is a good chance The Game will have 2006 vibes with both teams 11-0, and the Big Ten East title on the line. As great as it would be to look ahead, we know that the season is one game at a time, and this week, the Buckeyes need to test their nations best offense against one of the best defenses in the country in Iowa.
Know the Opponent:
Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz (24th season)
2022 Record: 3-3
Location: Iowa City, IA
Conference: Big Ten
Ohio State Preview
Its been too long since the Buckeyes have taken the field, and what is impressive is that they have made it to 6-0, and looked impressive doing it with a so many injury issues, the most glaring with Jaxon Smith-Njigba. If there is anything that fans would be hopeful for the Silver Bullets to fix, it would be at the cornerback position. Seeing Tennessee’s DB’s torch Alabama, the Buckeyes need to see that as a hurdle they will need to clear in a potential playoff match-up and the only thing that seems to be the biggest Achilles Heel to this team. The other thing we hope to see fixed is special teams, especially in the return game. With rumors that Jaxon Smith-Njigba is going to play this game, and the Buckeyes get the two headed monster of Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson healthy as well, we could finally see the offense that Ryan Day has schemed during summer workouts.
To show how good this team has been in the first half of the season, here is how Ohio State ranks nationally:
Scoring Offense- #1
Rushing Offense- #15
Passing Offense- #15
Total Offense- #2
Scoring Defense- #10
Rushing Defense- #9
Passing Defense- #7
Total Defense- #5
CJ Stroud is still one of the best quarterbacks in the country statistically even after having a week of rest. On the season, he has 1737 yards passing with 24 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He has a nations best QBR rating of 207.6. One of the knocks in his game is being a running threat, but with the success they have had on offense, and the receivers having an insane catch radius, he might not need to use his legs to keep a defense honest.
Miyan Williams is the leading running back with 497 yards and 8 touchdowns on 64 carries. He is averaging 7.8 yards a carry. Getting all of the reps as RB1 against Michigan State, TreVeyon Henderson is second with 69 carried for 436 yards and 4 touchdowns. Dallan Hayden has been involved more as well, and if this week is more of a blowout, we might see the freshman add to his 250 yards rushing on the season.
In the absence of Jaxon Smith Njigba, Emeka Egbuka has been the top receiver for Stroud, and the wide-out who has been the most consistent in terms of production. He has 35 catches for 655 yards and 6 touchdowns. Marvin Harrison Jr, who is a human highlight reel, has 31 catches for 536 yard and 9 touchdowns. Julian Fleming has emerged since coming back and has 15 catches for 222 yard and 5 touchdowns. Cade Stover should continue to be a factor in the pass game with his 16 catches and 206 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Lets not beat around the bush, and address the elephant in the room. Iowa’s offense is not great. Brian Ferentz, who is the son of Kirk Ferentz, has struggled this year, and really since taking over from being the offensive line coach to OC and quarterback coach in 2017, and there is a lot of voices for the Hawkeye faithful asking for a change. They have only managed 7 touchdowns in 6 games. The defense though is as consistent as normal, being one of the best statistical defenses in the country, and are also complimented by a good special teams.
For reference, here are the rankings breakdown for Iowa:
Scoring Offense- 127th
Rushing Offense- 127th
Passing Offense- 120th
Total Offense- 1311st
Scoring Defense- 3rd
Rushing Defense- 24th
Passing Defense- 3rd
Total Defense- 7th
Spencer Petras is the starting quarterback for the Hawkeyes, and he has 940 passing yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He is completing 54% of his passes, and has been sacked 18 times this year. No other players have recorded a pass attempt.
Leshon Williams is the lead running back with 236 yards on 64 carries with 2 touchdowns. He also has 5 catches for 50 yards. Kaleb Johnson is the second running back with 50 carries for 232 yards and 3 touchdowns. Gavin Williams is the next leading back with 29 carries for 88 yards.
The tope two receivers for Iowa are the tight ends. Sam LaPortia has 30 catches for 279 yards. Luke Lachey, who is the son of Ohio State alum Luke Lachey, has 9 catches for 157 yards with 1 touchdown. The leading wideout is Nico Ragaini with 13 catches for 1155 yards and Arland Bruice IV has 14 catches for 151 yards ad 1 touchdowns.
CJ Stroud. The prolific passer is now in a real Heisman battle with Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, and this game will be a great statement game to put a statement out against one of the nations best defenses. If Stroud wants to try and reclaim the lead, it starts in this one.
Jack Campbell. Linebacker Jack Campbell is the leader of an Iowa defense that will have to be its best to not get run over by the Buckeyes. The AP Preseason All-American is averaging double-digit stops again, while the unit has allowed 10 points or fewer in five of the team’s first six games.
Water Cooler Stat of the Game
29. Ohio State’s red-zone efficiency is the best in the nation. In 29 trips to the zone, the Buckeyes have scored every time. All but two were touchdowns.
Both teams are coming off a bye week to prepare for their first game against each other since 2017. Anyone who was on the Buckeye Squad has already graduated so the sense of revenge might be gone, but if nothing else, Ohio State should see what happened this past weekend as motivation enough to perform to their level. The questions will be which version of this squad will show up, and are some of the key players healthy now after having an additional week of rest. Iowa is one of the worst offense in the country, but they are going to rely on their top level defense to keep them in this game. These next few weeks will be an eye test for Ohio State as they will meet with common opponents that Michigan has, and Michigan pulled away late to beat this Hawkeye team. I wouldn’t be surprised for Kirk Ferentz to call up some trick plays to keep them in it as well, but I don’t see this game going well for Iowa at all. Ohio State 49 – Iowa 3
Ohio State 49 – Iowa 3
Photo Credit: SBNation.com