Week #5 – Iowa – Open Thread

OSU FootballWe’re just a little under 36 hours away from bedlam in Iowa City. The whole town is bracing for a Scarlet and Gray onslaught. Tickets are being sold at a premium. The Buckeyes will be dealing with a pink locker room. This is the first time College Game Day has been in Iowa City in ten years. Simply put, this is Iowa’s championship game. And the atmosphere is electric.

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Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, history is not on their side. They’ve played the #1 team 8 times. Their record is 0-7-1. Not very impressive. There is more at stake, though, in the history department. Ohio State was drubbed by Iowa, in Kinnick Stadium, in 2004. Ohio State repaid the drubbing last year, driving Drew Tate crazy (see above for photographic evidence. I love that picture!). Each team has redemption (and revenge) on their minds. It’s going to be nasty out there. Someone’s leaving on a stretcher, I can just feel it.

For a taste of some previews of the big game, you can read Sports Illustrated’s here. Another in-depth preview by Buckeye Planet is available here. Keith has some thoughts about the game at Buckeye Commentary (Keith, help me find your permalinks!). I love that Keith mentioned the Iowa tight ends. Remember when they used to stand at the line of scrimmage (under Hayden Fry)? I always loved the look of those formations. Pfef has his preview up, as well. O-Zone takes a look here.

So how do we see it? As I mentioned earlier, history is on our side. We’ve won nine of the last ten meetings against Iowa. Their running game hasn’t really got things going lately, but they have a competent 1,000-yard back in Albert Young. Their defense lost some key linebackers (sound familiar?) but is still strong. But this game begins and ends with Drew Tate. What he’s able to do and what the Buckeyes can do to contain him will go a long way in determining the outcome of the game. If our ends can keep him contained, forcing him inside (into the teeth of the defense, also known as Little Animal) when he wants to run, we should handle Iowa easily. If he can get out on the corners, he’s extremely dangerous. He can throw on the run and he can gash defenses with his legs. I imagine we’ll have a spy on him at all times, following him like a hawk. (Get it? A buckeye following him like a hawk? A Hawkeye? I give up). Also, don’t forget, Tate sat out the game against Syracuse with a strained abdominal muscle. Has he recovered 100% from that? Will he re-aggravate it trying to spin out of a Gholston or Pitcock sack?

For OSU to be successful, Troy will have to find his rythm early and Pittman will be called on to grind up chunks of yards. Pittman has proven to be a reliable workhorse and Troy should feel more comfortable with favorable weather conditions. If Gonzo and Ginn get back to their Texas-form, it’s going to be a long night for the Hawkeyes. If Iowa can shut down the run, Troy will shred their secondary. If they play a lot of nickel (like we did against Texas) Pittman (and Wells and Wells) will have their way with the defense. Factoring in the hostile crowd should have some effect, but I don’t think it’s going to be on the level of Penn State last year. They expect 35,000 Buckeye fans in Iowa city tomorrow night and you know there will be a big showing in the stadium.

So how do you guys see it? Vegas has the the Buckeyes favored by 7. I think that’s a fair line, but I think the Buckeyes win by more.

Some predictions around the college football blogosphere:

Bemusement Park – OSU: 24 Iowa: 13
Buckeye Banter – OSU: 31 Iowa: 17
Pfef has OSU: 28 Iowa 14

As is tradition, we’ve got a couple more things to slap some virtual money down on:

Who gains the most yards, Troy Smith or Drew Tate?

What about their total production (o/u: 700 yards)?

How many turnovers does Lauranaitis cause (o/u 1.5)?

Is this the game Teddy Ballgame breaks out on special teams?

el Kaiser’s predictions:
Final score: OSU: 27 Iowa: 14
Troy Smith out-duels Drew Tate, accounting for over 400 yards for the Buckeyes
I’m going over on total production: 750 yards from the two of them
Lauranaitis keeps the turnovers coming, but is only responsible for one this time
Does Ted break out? Yes! Please! Teddy, this is your night to shine!

SportsMonkey’s predictions:
Final score: OSU: 41 Iowa: 13
Most yards, Smith or Tate?: Smith had an awesome game last year against Iowa. It will happen again.
Total production: Over – 799. OSU accounts for about 500 yards of it; Iowa, about 250ish.
Little Animal Turnovers: Unknown. I’m predicting two for the defense.
Does Ted break out?: Not on punt returns. Iowa’s special teams are pretty well disciplined there (#3 in the country in fewest yards allowed during put returns). They’re pretty bad on kickoff coverage, so TGII might have a shot there (although OSU has only returned 8 kickoffs all year, so he might be a bit rusty!).
Other comments: Ordinarily, having a night game at home is a great advantage, especially when you have a good team. But Iowa’s advantage is minimized by OSU’s “been there done that” experience in the bowl-like atmospheres of Texas and PSU. Lastly, Iowa’s defense is similar to, if a bit weaker than, Texas’ defense. And we all remember what happened three weeks ago.

Zeke’s predictions:
Final score: OSU: 30 Iowa: 16
Most yards, Smith or Tate?: No brainer, Smith out-gains Tate by at least 100 yards. Prediction: Smith accounts for 365 yards while Tate gains 240.
Total production: Under (see above) – 605 yards for Smith and Tate combined.
Little Animal Turnovers: LA has an interception in each of the last 3 games, that trend continues. Chalk up another interception for Lauranaitis against Iowa; however, he does not cover the o/u with only 1 turnover.
Does Ted break out?: It would be great to see him “break out” this week and return a punt or kick-off for a TD, but his presence alone gives the Buckeyes and advantage on punt returns. How many times have we seen an opposing punter shank it out of bounds while trying to keep it out of Ginn’s hands. Field Position people Field Position. We will see a return TD before the season is over, it is only a matter of time.

Comments

  1. As always excellent stuff, guys. I have to apologize about the permalinks…I simply don’t have ’em yet. They’re coming though. Until then, there is an long but usable workaround. I’ll send ya an email.

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