IOWA CITY, Ia. - College Game Day will set up at Wrigley Field this Saturday instead of Kinnick Stadium. Iowa-Ohio State is less of a marquee match-up after the Hawkeyes fell to Northwestern last week.
Buckeyes Coach Jim Tressel doesn't believe Iowa's loss takes anything away from this game.
"I'm not sure you could heighten this one any more or less," Tressel said. "All summer long and all fall long people have circled this game. It's not like, oh, who do we have this week?"
So, while the Northwestern-Illinois game gets the hype of the biggest television pre-game show at a baseball stadium in Chicago, Iowa and Ohio State still get national TV at 2:30 p.m. on ABC. It still pits the 5-1, in-conference Buckeyes against the 4-2 Hawkeyes.
"Just turn on the Iowa-Michigan State game," Tressel said. "Michigan State's a good team. They've lost one game. But they have three picks, one to the house and one way down there, all of a sudden they turn around and it's 30-0 and they're a good team."
Saturday will be Ohio State's first game at Kinnick since Game Day was in town early in the 2006 season.
"It's a great atmosphere," Tressel said. "It's nice and tight and there's a lot of communication going on from the stands down to the field, so it's kind of one of those neat places, those places that as a player you never forget that you've played.
"The veterans know what lies ahead because they've played against Iowa. Now, I don't know if any of our guys that played at Iowa City, I don't know if any of those fifth-year seniors were playing as true freshmen that particular year, but they're in for a heck of an experience, a heck of a challenge."
TELEVISION: The game will be televised to a national audience by ABC. The announcers are Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and sideline reporter Quint Kessenich.
RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa (7-3 overall, 4-2 Big ten) is ranked 21st in the AP and 20th in the coaches poll. Ohio State (9-1, 5-1) is ranked 8th in the AP and 7th in the coaches.
HISTORY: Saturday marks the 63rd meeting in the series that began with a 12-9 Iowa victory in 1922. Ohio State holds a 45-14-3 advantage and has won the last three meetings. The Hawkeyes snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Buckeyes with a 33-7 victory at Iowa City in 2004. The teams did not meet in 2007 and 2008.
THE LINE: Ohio State opened as a 3-3.5 point favorite in most locations. That number hadn't moved much at all as of Wednesday morning.
I thought the money would come in early on the Buckeyes. I was wrong (imagine that).
It shows you that the oddsmakers and the players respect Iowa playing at Kinnick Stadium and that it's Senior Day. You can also read into it that they remember what happened the last time Ohio State played a big road game. Wisconsin whooped up on the Buckeyes pretty good.
Still, Ohio State appears to be the team heading in the right direction. The Hawkeyes come into the contest off two underwhelming performances against Indiana and Northwestern.
-Buckeyes are 22-7 ATS in their last 29 road games.
-Buckeyes are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games as a road favorite.
-Buckeyes are 12-3 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
-Buckeyes are 23-5 ATS in their last 28 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
-Buckeyes are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games in November.
-Hawkeyes are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games as a home underdog.
-Hawkeyes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games in November.
-Hawkeyes are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS loss.
-Hawkeyes are 15-6 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
-Hawkeyes are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as an underdog of 0.5-3.0.
Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor vs. Iowa MLB James Morris - I listed Morris matching up with dan Persa last week. The Hawkeye true freshman did some nice things, but in the end, Northwestern's QB got the last laugh.
Pryor isn't exactly the same as Persa, but they're both dual-threat guys who pressure defenses. Just when you think you have them, they make plays.
Morris will learn from last week. He's smart and capable. He'll need to be against the dynamic Pryor.
Ohio State WRs Devier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher vs. Iowa CBs Shaun Prater and Micah Hyde - Pryor gets a lot of the ink, but these two receivers are a big reason why he's been successful in the passing game. They're strong veterans who run great routes and stretch the defense.
You have to respect the Buckeye duo as downfield threats, and that opens things up for Pryor runs. Posey's size is something on which to keep an eye with the smaller Iowa DBs.
Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward vs. Iowa LT Riley Reiff - A nice matchup of two future NFL players. This might end up being a stalemate If one of them can get an advantage, it could tilt the game to that player's side.
Reiff is enjoying a solid year against some tough pass rushers. Heyward might be the best he's seen.
Ohio State CB Chimdi Chekwa vs. Iowa WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos - The Iowa senior seems to play his best when the lights are the brightest. It's his last game in Kinnick Stadium against the team he grew up watching.
Chekwa is one of 10 finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back. DJK is Iowa's all time leader catches and receiving yardage.
-Ohio State is the only team that ranks in the Top 10 of both the current USA Today/Coaches' poll and also the APR rankings.
-QB Terrelle Pryor ranks second in the Big Ten and fifth nationally in pass efficiency (166.4)
-Jim Tressel (238 wins) is the second-winningest active FBS coach behind Joe Paterno (400)
-DeVier Posey has caught at least one pass in 24 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the Big Ten
-Daniel Herron has scored at least one touchdown in nine consecutive games
-Ohio State is 27-4 in November games since Jim Tressel became coach in 2001. That is the fourth-best November record among FBS teams.
-The Buckeyes are 14-1 in November games since 2005, suffering a 28-21 loss to Illinois Nov. 10, 2007.
-Over the last 15 games dating to last season, the Buckeyes have out-gained the opposition on the ground by +2,256 yards (3,508 to 1,252) -- an average of +150.4 yards per game.
-The Buckeyes are wearing a "32" black decal on the back of their helmets this season in memo- ry of All-American Jack Tatum, who died in July. The Ohio State defense is averaging 6.00 three-and-outs per contest this season, second best among FBS teams behind TCU (6.09 per game).
-Among FBS teams, Ohio State ranks second in total defense (238.0 ypg), first in TO margin (+1.40), fifth in rushing defense (86.9 ypg), sixth in pass defense (151.1 ypg) and fifth in scoring defense (13.6 ppg).
-Iowa has won 22 of its last 27 games and 24 of 30, dating back to the middle of the 2008 season.
-Iowa has won 49 of its last 59 games (.831) in Kinnick Stadium, dating back to the 2002 season, including a 5-1 mark this season.
-Iowa ranks fourth nationally in rushing defense (86.8), seventh in scoring defense (15.0), 16th in total defense (307.0) and 21st in pass efficiency defense (114.12).
-Iowa has been guilty of just seven turnovers (three lost fumbles, four interceptions), which ties Oregon State and Wisconsin as the fewest in the nation. Iowa has not lost a fumble in the last six games. Iowa is second in the Big Ten and fifth nationally with a plus 1.2 turnover ratio.
-Iowa has 13 players on its roster from the state of Ohio. There are no Iowans on the Ohio State roster.
-Iowa has defeated three ranked teams this season, including Penn State (#20), Michigan (#24) and Michigan State (#5). Ohio State is the sixth ranked team Iowa will face this season, matching the most the Hawkeyes have faced in a single season under coach Kirk Ferentz.
-Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel and Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi are from Mentor, OH.
-Iowa freshman linebacker James Morris, who turns 19 on Saturday, is the only Hawkeye with a birthday this week. He ranks fifth on the team in tackles (46).
THE PREDICTION: Last year's game at the Shoe was a classic. The Big Ten championship was decided in an overtime affair.
This year's game could have held more significance had Iowa won at Northwestern last week. In my mind, most of the pressure has shifted to Ohio State's side now.
Iowa would have been the underdog anyway. But now, the Hawkeyes a trying to pull themselves off the canvas and ruin the Buckeyes title hopes, a role Iowa relishes.
I think Iowa has the intangibles edge this week. It's Senior Day for a large class, Kinnick will provide an advantage and the Buckeyes have no margin for error.
This game will come down to what Iowa's offense can do against the best defense in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes are struggling on that side of the ball after scoring a combined 35 points the last two weeks against Northwestern and Indiana.
A veteran Iowa offense can clean up the mistakes and poor execution its experienced the last two Saturdays. And don't be surprised to see the coaches install a few wrinkles to loosen up the Buckeye defense.
I picked this as a loss for Iowa before the season after predicting the Buckeyes to win another conference crown. I've decided to stick with that prediction but I think the Hawkeyes will give the visitors all they can handle and will be in position to win it late.
Ohio State 20, IOWA 16