The Hawkeyes come in at 4-2 and tied for 2nd in the Legends Division. There has been a slight glimmer of hope with the Hawkeyes this year after going a horrible 4-8 and finishing tied for last in their division a year ago. Iowa’s wins were vs. Missouri State, Iowa State, Western Michigan and Minnesota. Their losses to Michigan State and Northern Illinois.
The Hawkeyes are ranked as follows:
What can be taken away from this? Iowa’s defense is pretty damn good…like…really good. Meyer said that their front four may be the best they will face all year. The Hawkeye defensive line is stout and could give OSU’s highly ranked rushing attack fits. They did a good job shutting down highly touted Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch. Lynch had 56 yards rushing which is his 2nd lowest total of the season. Lynch did have success throwing the football and that is where Iowa seems to struggle most of defense. In both of their losses, the Iowa defense has struggled to defend the pass.
What to expect when Iowa has the ball:
Iowa will pound the ball like an old school Big Ten team should. They are lead by Mark Weisman who has 624 yards rushing and 3 rushing TD’s. Their QB Jake Rudock is inconsistent at best as he thrives off the play-action pass. Rudock has 8 TD passes to 6 INT’s. He will certainly give the Buckeye defense opportunities to pick him off.
Ohio State’s strength defensively is their ability to stop the run. OSU shutdown Wisconsins rushing attack, which is ranked 5th in the nation with just under 300 yards per game. OSU held them to just over 100. OSU also shutdown Northwestern’s outstanding running game as well. While this is great, both Wisconsin and Northwestern were able to throw the ball at will. Northwestern racked up 345 yards passing and Wisconsin tallied 295 yards passing. Neither team is known for throwing the football. The OSU secondary has got to step up their game.
Look for Ohio State to choke out Iowa’s rushing attack, but give up some chunks in the passing game off play-action. One of the major issues I have with this team is the fact that they are LOADED with amazing athletes on defense and for some reason refuse to be aggressive and force their will on lesser teams. Ryan Shazier is one of the most dynamic athletes OSU has ever had at linebacker and he blitzes less than Tim Tebow throws touchdowns. Fickell and Whithers need to simply be more aggressive during passing downs. Northwestern really struggled when their QB’s were pressured. We shall see Saturday if OSU creates more pressure.
What to expect when OSU has the ball:
Ohio State will do what they have done all year long…impose their will on the defense they are playing against. Braxton Miller will throw it between 20-25 times and Carlos Hyde will be the work horse in between the tackles. OSU will employ a deadly play-action passing game. Will there be a Dontre Wilson sighting on offense? When he is on the field good things happen. When he came aboard he was touted as the next Percy Harvin. He is averaging 9.5 yards per touch on offense. That is very Harvin like. He needs touches. The offense is just different when he is in there.
Iowa’s main focus will be to stop OSU’s rushing game and force Braxton Miller to beat them throwing the football. The bad news for Iowa is that Braxton can and will beat them threw the air. Millers passing game has improved by leaps and bounds since last year and he is spreading the ball all over the field, hitting check downs, tightens and getting his 3 WR’s involved in the game. He’s making quicker decisions and getting the ball out of his hands earlier. Last year OSU was ranked 90th in the country giving up sacks. This year thus far OSU is 32nd, mainly due to Millers improvement getting rid of the ball.
Iowa is a solid football team and as always well coached. They are a little in over their head vs. Ohio State however and this one should be over midway through the 3rd quarter. I see Iowa keeping things close for a bit and the Buckeyes pouring it on as the game wears on. Eventually Iowa will have to rely on their passing game and it will let them down. They lack the playmakers to keep up with the Ohio State offense, which is averaging 46.8 points per game, good for 6th in the country. Iowa REALLY struggles with the playaction game and OSU thrives on that. OSU should cruise.
Before the 2013 season started Braxton Miller was the odds on favorite by many in the oblong university sports ball world to win the Heisman Trophy. Perhaps that was the ultimate kiss of death for the super star junior QB from Ohio State. He started off the season with a ho-hum performance vs. Buffalo and was knocked out of the next 2.97 games due to an MCL injury suffered during the 1st drive vs. San Diego State.
Enter Kenny Guiton
Guiton stepped in for the injured Miller and put up the following numbers, which lead to many Buckeye faithful clamoring for Kenny Guiton to start over Braxton Miller:
While this looks great, and it was…lets also remember this:
Guiton’s performance was outstanding. He did what a backup QB should do. Come in for an injured starter and be able to run the offense. And against literally terrible opponents, that is exactly what he did. Enter the Wisconsin Badgers, who currently have the 5th ranked scoring defense and the 5th ranked overall defense in college football. Many fans did not want Miller to start against Wisconsin fearing he would be too rusty, or not be able to read the zone read option, or Guiton was simply better. The “ors” were seemingly endless. What did Miller do?
He threw for 4 touchdowns, threw for 198 yards and ran for another 83. After that you would have thought that any QB controversy looming in Columbus would have subsided. Nope.
Millers next game was vs. Northwestern and at times he struggled. He turned the ball over 3 times and OSU found themselves down by 10 in the 2nd half. After Millers 2nd fumble Meyer and Herman contemplated yanking Miller for Guiton. Guiton began to warm up but never saw the field. Down late in the 4th quarter, Miller lead an 81 yard drive setting up the Carlos Hyde go ahead TD and OSU prevailed vs. an outstanding Northwestern team in Evanston. Miller accounted for 68 of the 81 yards.
I believe Millers criticism has been unfair and magnified by Guiton’s stellar play. Any time Miller throws an incompletion, turns the ball over or makes a poor read on the zone read option he will have Buckeye fans pleading with Urban Meyer give him the hook and insert Guiton to save the day.
Braxton Miller is the starting quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes. The last time he lost a football game Jim Bollman was still coaching the offense and Luke Fickell was still the head coach. Can the vocal minority of Buckeye fans please put down the grain alcohol and stop already? Braxton Miller been outstanding for most of his career and he continues to improve and become a more consistent and complete QB. Remember his 1 for 4 passing numbers vs. Illinois his freshman year? Those stat lines are a thing of the past. Guiton is a game manager…at best. Miller is a game changer.
All I have to say is:
Braxton Miller myths:
He can’t read the zone read option. This may have been true AT TIMES last year, however he certainly got better as the year went on. It was drilled into his head last year that in order for that offense to click he had to be the primary ball carrier. I believe this fact hurt Miller and his ability to properly read the unblocked edge defender and he grew a bit of a superman complex. The Wisconsin game last year is a great example of this, as he kept the ball numerous times when he should have been giving to Hyde. Late in the game he did that and Hyde does what Hyde does….runs over defenses.
This year Miller is reading the zone read much better and is making the right read far more often than not. I put together every option play I saw vs. NW:
All but a couple plays are read correctly. Him not reading the zone read properly is flat out false sans the occasional miss, which even the great Kenny Guiton does from time to time.
He isn’t living up to his hype. Serenity now. Here is what is on Millers resume thus far:
2011 UnderArmour HS All-American
2011 2x Big Ten Freshman of the Week
2011 CFPA National Freshman Trophy
2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year
2012 Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award
2012 Davey O’Brien Award Finalist
2012 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year
2012 Big Ten Quarterback of the Year
2012 All-Big Ten 1st Team (Media)
2012 5th Place in Heisman Trophy Voting
Honestly this probably isn’t a myth, simply because of the ridiculous expectations put on him by media and fans alike, including myself. Everything pointed to him having a monster year. 2nd year in a Meyer offense usually means amazing things for the QB. Collectively the QB combination compares very well with some other Heisman front runner QBs. Even with all the awards he has won and the fact that he is undefeated since Meyer has taken over, he still has to deal with the fact that many Buckeye fans aren’t happy with him.
Going forward, all Braxton Miller has to do is continue to help Ohio State win football games, just like he did vs. the two best teams on OSU’s 2013 schedule.