Miller: The Differences Between Iowa & Ohio State

When you crack open the history books, Iowa and Ohio State are pages apart. Make that chapters. But after witnessing Iowa dismantle the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, Publisher Jon Miller points out the differences in the two programs. Ohio State might always have better talent on paper, but the Hawkeyes are winning the battle of heart and character.

If you have spent any time in the HN Clubhouse, our members only forum, since the end of the Iowa-Ohio State game, you have read scores of posts breaking down and analyzing Iowa's win against Ohio State.

It was truly a thing of beauty, and the first time this year where the offense and defense both played spectacular football.

It was one of the more dominating victories in recent memory, when you consider the talent that the opponent has in its program.

Though no one will confuse the 2004 Ohio State Buckeyes with their 2002 National Championship counterparts, one thing is unquestionable; they still have oodles of talent, as much as any team in the Big Ten.

Ohio State routinely ranks as high in the recruiting class Top 25 as they do in the polls .

Iowa has finished the past two seasons ranked #8 in all the land for their on field accomplishments, but when it come to top 25 recruiting class rankings, you have not been able to find Iowa's name.

But based on what we witnessed Saturday in Kinnick Stadium, Iowa's 33-7 drubbing of Ohio State, you would not have been able to tell.

Iowa thoroughly dominated the Buckeyes in every phase of the game, offensively, defensively and on special teams.

Though Ohio State coach Jim Tressel would not go as far as saying Iowa dominated the football game (only admitting that "we got our butts kicked"), we felt like you should be the judge. If you are a Buckeye fan reading this, you might want to avert your eyes at this point.

As a service to you, here is a link to something that is less offensive and might even bring a smile to your face: Calvin & Hobbes Reprints

- Ohio State had 94 yards of total offense after three quarters. They had 177 for the game, but 73 of those yards came on their last possession when Iowa had taken its first team defense out of the game. So against Iowa's first teamer's, Ohio State mustered 104 yards of total offense and zero points. For the record, Ohio State has not scored an offensive touchdown against Iowa's starting defense for two straight games. I don't know what other Iowa opponents you could say that about in recent memory that are not low-level teams from the MAC. That is not meant as a flame to Ohio State, just something that I think is probably either fact, or not too far from fact.

- Iowa had 24 first downs to Ohio State's 12. Three of Ohio State's first downs came on the aforementioned last drive of the game against Iowa's subs and one came via an Iowa penalty. Ohio State had 11 first downs against Iowa in 2003.

- Ohio State had 185 total yards of offense against Iowa in 2003, combining for just 362 over the last two seasons. That includes just 83 yards rushing COMBINED over the last two years. Iowa had 442 yards of total offense against Ohio State on Saturday.

- Ohio State has punted the ball eight times against Iowa in each of the last two meetings. NOTE: Eight punts in a game is not what you want, especially when you are getting 12 to 13 possessions per game.

- 13 of Ohio State's 25 possessions against Iowa over the last two years have been five plays or less and either a punt or a turnover, not counting drives they have scored on.

- Ohio State is 9 of 30 on third down conversions against Iowa over the last two games between the two schools.

Incredibly, this beat could go on for several more paragraphs.

With my duties as co-host on ‘Soundoff' on 1040 WHO after Iowa football games, the signal can sometimes boom across the country.

Saturday was such a night.

We fielded a call from Columbus from a Buckeye fan who was listening in. He reminded us that Ohio State was a young team, and that they only returned nine starters off of last year's team.

In fairness, he is right, and that should not be overlooked.

But here is another aspect that should not be overlooked: Iowa and Ohio State TIED for the fewest returning starters in the Big Ten this year, with nine, per Phil Steele's annual tome.

So, are we to assume that given the attrition to both teams, that Iowa has a better football program from top to bottom than Ohio State does right now? That Iowa has better players than Ohio State?

As I said earlier, Ohio State recruits in a different league than Iowa. If recruiting rankings are to be believed (and I have said for years that they should be viewed as much as entertainment as anything else), then one cannot say that Iowa has better talent, based on high school pedigrees.

That is the beauty about college football. All programs are not created equally, and the quality of your coaching staff has a LOT to do with your on field results.

For the past three seasons, Iowa has gotten better in October and November.

For the past two seasons, Iowa might have had more injuries, serious injuries, to starters than any other program in the country. Yet, the Hawks still make lemonade out of the lemons they have been dealt.

Two things that cannot be measured from a recruiting service is heart and character. Now, that is not to say that Ohio State's players don't have those qualities.

But it's undeniable that the young men who don the black and gold have it; they have it in spades.

It's still possible that Iowa, at 4-2, might not win enough games to qualify for a bowl. However, it's still possible for Iowa to tie for the Big Ten championship. They would more than likely need to win out to do that, which does not seem likely. But then again, 10-3 and an Outback thumping of Florida did not seem likely through six games last year, when Iowa was 4-2 overall and 1-2 in Big Ten play.

However, an 8-3 or 7-4 finish looks better now than it did after Iowa's 44-7 loss at Arizona State. That game seems like years ago, doesn't it?

If this column reads like a bit of piling on at the expense of the Buckeyes, it was not intended to be that. Ohio State has been and always will be a bit of a barometer for other Big Ten programs that do not call Ann Arbor their home.

And after Iowa beat them more convincingly than they have in school history, it's time to take stock. The same way it was time to take stock in 2002 after Iowa destroyed Michigan 34-9 in the Big House. You just don't see teams do that to Michigan and Ohio State.

What Iowa fans know is as follows:

- Their coaches can identify and develop talent with the best programs in the nation, if not being the best in that category.
- Iowa's coaches can keep the hearts and minds of their players focused on the task and hand, and not allow them to wallow in the mires of a losing streak.
- Kinnick Stadium is a dang tough place to win a football game if you are the visiting team.
- As the sign reads in Iowa's football complex, ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.'
- Iowa's coaching staff is willing to ‘scratch it where it itches', even if that means throwing the football more than they run it.

Kirk Ferentz allows his football team to enjoy a win or suffer a defeat for just 24 hours before he demands his players turn their focus to the next opponent.

On this website, we take things one day further, and look back for about 48 hours.

But Iowa fans will savor this dominating win over Ohio State for years and decades to come.

Because on this day, heart, character and dogged determination beat the tar out of pedigreed talent.

The Blue Collars beat the Blue Chips.

As Iowa begins to land more and more highly rated players, the key for them will still be to find ‘Iowa guys'; players who have that chip on their shoulder.

WR Trey Stross of Avon Lake, Ohio, is one of those players. He was recently named to the US Army All American Team as one of the top 80 players in the nation. He committed to Iowa in mid-June and a few days later, received a written offer from the home state Buckeyes.

Stross is a blue chip, no doubt. But he also has that chip on his shoulder. THAT will be the challenge.

If history is any indicator of the future, Kirk Ferentz and his coaching staff will be more than ready for that challenge.

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