On Saturday, the Iowa Hawkeyes (7-3, 4-2) will host the Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1, 5-1). The game is at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised on ABC.
It’s senior day at Kinnick Stadium, representing the last home game for 26 of the team’s players including Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi, defensive end Adam Clayborn, wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and punter Ryan Donahue. Also on the line for the game, is the fact that 13 Hawkeyes are from Ohio, including Stanzi.
With a win on Saturday, the Buckeyes will keep their co-Big Ten title hopes alive; a win for the Hawkeyes will help their bowl bid, restore a team’s pride, and if the stars really align, a chance at the Big Ten title should Michigan State and Wisconsin also lose this week (and next).
Hawkeye Nation can always dream but it’s been six years since Iowa last beat Ohio State. Last year, the Buckeyes won 27-24 in overtime.
Looking at Iowa’s depth chart, senior Jeff Tarpinian is out after getting reinjured last week; freshman James Morris will get the nod for middle linebacker. Troy Johnson returns to the lineup as outside linebacker and playing back-up to wide receiver Johnson-Koulianos is senior Dan Nordeman instead of Colin Sandeman.
In just about every area, Ohio State statistically leads the conference: scoring (41.6 points/game), defense (13.6 points per game), turnover margin, total defense, kickoff and pass defense.The Buckeyes will bring a tough offense to Kinnick, averaging 222 yards/game on the ground and 233 yards/game passing.
Offensively, if good Stanzi comes to Kinnick (remember the Michigan State game?), it could be the battle of the quarterbacks. Stanzi ranks third in passing efficiency (167.19) and just a few weeks ago, was the Big Ten’s quarterback leader statistically (now third). Ohio State’s junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor is fifth (166.4) in passing efficiency and as starting quarterback, has a 28-5 record, two Big Ten title conferences and a Rose Bowl win.
Last week neither quarterback had a great game. Pryor completed 8-13 passes for 139 yards, two touchdowns, one interception in the 38-14 win against Penn State. Stanzi threw a costly interception in the fourth quarter and couldn’t come back as the clutch quarterback that the Hawkeyes deseperately needed.
Both teams have great running backs. Iowa’s sophomore running back Adam Robinson has six games rushing for 100 yards or more (108 yards against Northwestern) this season while Ohio State’s junior running back Dan Herron ran for 190 yards on 12 carries, with one touchdown last week. To-date, he has 824 rushing yards.
Iowa’s defense? The numbers paint a good story with a fourth nationally-ranked rush defense (86.8), seventh in scoring defense (15.0), 16th in total defense (307.0) and 21st in pass efficiency defense (114.12). The Hawkeyes’ defense has looked lackluster the past few weeks. Clayborn doesn’t appear dominant, occasionally looking winded on the sidelines.
Iowa’s defensive coordinator Norm Parker has returned but according to Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, he isn’t totally up to speed yet.
Iowa’s senior punter Donahue continues to pay well. Last week against the Wildcats, Donahue had a 73-yard punt in the second quarter, tying as the 10th longest in Iowa’s history. Freshman kicker Mike Meyer has made great strides this season and after last week’s game, he shared the national honor of Kickoff Performer of the Week when all four of his kicks were touchbacks at Northwestern.
Ohio State definitely has the advantages with its number of wins and stats but Iowa has a big heart. If the Iowa team that showed up in October finds its way back to Kinnick on Saturday, then we may have a pretty good ball game this week.
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Written by Debbie Baratz