The Hawkeyes travel to Ohio State and The Horseshoe, a venue that has not been kind to Iowa over the course of…well, darn near forever. Iowa has won just twice in Columbus since 1949, making ‘The Shoe' the most difficult stadium to win for Iowa, all time.
But ghosts from seasons past will not be playing on Saturday, though Drew Tate and his cohorts could use some ‘Hartlieb to Cook' magic from 1987.
THE LAST MEETING
Iowa snapped an eight-game losing streak to Ohio State with a 33-7 triumph in Kinnick Stadium. The 26-point victory is Iowa's largest margin over Ohio State. QB Drew Tate put up big numbers to help lead the Hawkeyes to victory. Tate completed 26-39 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed nine times for 24 yards and scored on a one-yard plunge. Tate's efforts earned him a share of Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors. Iowa tallied its first points on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Tate to WR Clinton Solomon in the first quarter. PK Kyle Schlicher booted a 45-yard field goal in the second quarter to give Iowa a 10-0 halftime advantage.
Ohio State fumbled on its second play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Five plays later, Tate connected with TE Scott Chandler for an eight-yard touchdown. The Hawkeyes added their second third quarter touchdown on a Solomon 36-yard touchdown reception – his second of the game. Solomon posted career highs in receptions (seven) and receiving yards (131). Tate scored on a one-yard rush on the first play of the fourth quarter and Iowa scored its final points on a 41-yard field goal by Schlicher. Schlicher finished with nine points and was named Big Ten co-Special Teams Player of the Week.
After Iowa scored 33 unanswered points, Ohio State scored its only touchdown with 2:19 left in the game. Iowa's defense recorded eight tackles for loss, collected three turnovers (one interception, two fumbles) and allowed Ohio State's offense to cross midfield only twice. LB Abdul Hodge collected a team-high 12 tackles (nine solo), including one for loss. DE Derreck Robinson registered a career-high nine tackles (six solo), including one for loss. He also forced and recovered a fumble. DE Matt Roth recorded five tackles (three solo) and two sacks.
Much Ohio State's preseason attention was directed at last year's ‘freshman phenom' Ted Ginn. Ginn returned three punts for touchdowns during his true rookie year, leaving him just two TD returns off of Tim Dwight's Big Ten record. Though we felt that Ginn being anointed All American status at wide receiver was quite premature this year, he is a danger to take it to the house each and every time he touches the ball. It's just that thus far in 2005, he has not touched it all that much. Santonio Holmes is an accomplished receiver and is more dangerous in the passing game, because he runs crisp routes and also has breakaway speed. Both players are active in the return game, and Iowa's punters will need to have plenty of hangtime on their kicks this week.
As many of you know, there is another hurricane bearing down on the Gulf Coast region. Katrina is being predicted to make landfall somewhere near Houston, Texas.
Iowa quarterback Drew Tate hails from Baytown, Texas, a city located south and east of Houston. One has to wonder if Tate has had a hard time focusing this week, as he has family and friends living in a region that will likely be changed forever once Rita comes ashore.
In their first road test of 2005, the Hawkeyes failed miserably, losing 23-3 to the Iowa State Cyclones. Iowa surrendered five turnover to Iowa State, four of them coming in the first half. Tate was knocked out of the game early in the second quarter and Iowa had little answer for Iowa State the rest of the game.
This will be Iowa's first trip out of the state this year, and second visit to a tough environment.
Jack Trice Stadium can get loud when the Hawkeyes are in town, but it cannot hold a candle to what Iowa is preparing to face in Columbus. In fairness, few venues around the nation can.
LAST WEEK IN COLUMBUS
Ohio State rebounded from its loss to second-ranked Texas with a 27-6 victory over San Diego State in front of 104,533 fans at Ohio Stadium. The Aztecs scored their only points on the first play from scrimmage on an 80-yard sideline pass (PAT attempt failed). The Buckeye efense clamped down and allowed only three first downs and 179 total yards for the game. Ohio State dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 38:14 while San Diego State maintained possession for only 21:46. The Buckeyes rushed for three touchdowns, including two by QB Troy Smith. Smith led the team in rushing with 14 carries for 87 yards. He also threw for 149 yards, completing 14-26 passes. WR Roy Hall and Santonio Holmes each had four catches, going for 44 and 42 yards, respectively. PK Josh Huston was 2-2 on field goal attempts.
THIS & THAT
The National I-Club and the UI Alumni Association invite all fans to the "Hawkeye Huddle" from 9-11 a.m. (EDT) prior to the Ohio State game Saturday. The "Hawkeye Huddle" will be held at Holiday Inn on the Lane, located at 328 W. Lane Avenue in Columbus. The free reception features refreshments, snacks, Hawk Shop door prizes, Herky, and the Iowa cheerleaders.
Iowa is ranked 21st in both the USA Today poll and Associated Press poll. Four of its eight conference foes are in the top 25. Ohio State is ranked No. 9/8 (ESPN-USA Today/AP). Iowa's last road win against a ranked conference foe came in the regular season finale against Wisconsin in 2003. The Badgers were ranked 23rd. Saturday will be Iowa's first game of 2005 against a ranked opponent. The Hawkeyes were 3-1 against ranked foes last season, posting wins over Ohio State, Wisconsin and LSU and losing to Michigan.
Iowa enters Saturday's game with a seven-game conference winning streak. The Hawkeyes lost last season's Big Ten-opener at Michigan (30-17) before winning the final seven league contests. The last time Iowa won eight straight league games was in 2002 when both the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes won all eight Big Ten contests.
The Hawkeyes are 2-4 in Big Ten Conference openers under Coach Ferentz, including losing the last two (at Michigan State, 20-10, in 2003 and at Michigan, 30-17, in 2004).
Iowa has five players from the state of Ohio on its roster: redshirt freshmen DB Bradley Fletcher (Youngstown) and LB Anton Narinskiy (Chagrin Falls) and true freshmen DB Chris Rowell (Warrensville Heights), LB B.J. Travers (Westlake) and WR Trey Stross (Avon Lake) – all three of whom are redshirting. Ohio State does not have any Iowans on its roster.
HAWKEYENATION.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS
ROB HOWE: The Big Ten probably couldn't have picked a tougher league opener for the Hawkeyes. The Shoe can shake the best veterans, and Iowa heads to Columbus with a lot of inexperience in key spots. Still, the Hawks should keep this one close against a conservative Buckeye offense. Its cliché, but this one likely will be decided much like the ones in Ames a few weeks back - Special teams, field position, penalties and turnovers. As much as I'd like to pick the Hawks, I just don't think this team has matured enough to win in this position: Ohio State 24, Iowa 16.
JASON MILLER: This is the game that has been marked on my calendar since January 2nd. The defense of the Buckeyes is high energy. Iowa's offense is high energy. The defense of Iowa is mid-high energy. So is the offense of Ohio State. In the end, it will come down to special teams and a key turnover (much like every game). Kyle Schlicher is faster than Kaedo, Mike Jones is more experienced and will NOT hold his defender, and the Hawkeyes will push the ball into the endzone. As much as I want to go the other way - I have a feeling Iowa wins at the Shoe for the second time since West Branch native Marv Cook made what used to be known as ‘the catch'. IOWA 24, OSU 13
BRIAN FINLEY: Iowa's first team defense has not given up a TD in their last two meetings. Unfortunately, that's going to change on Saturday. However, I think the game will be won or lost when Iowa's offense is on the field. I think this game will come down to Drew Tate's ability to move the pocket. If he can, it keeps the linebackers at home, clearing some space up the middle later in the game. Iowa 23 Ohio State 21
Useless fact: Ohio State has not lost two home games in the same season since 2001, losing Wisconsin and Illinois on their way to 7-5
JON MILLER: As you have read, Iowa has to play a clean game if they want to win. That is typically the case on the road in this league, but it is most assuredly is the case on the road in Columbus. If Iowa is negative in the turnover margin, they will lose. If they are even or plus one or two, they can fight their way through. Ohio State's defense might be the best that Iowa will face all season long. Iowa's offense HAS to find a rythym early if they are to stay in this game. I just have a hard time seeing an Iowa win. It's not impossibly, but I have felt Iowa would lose this game since the spring, and I have not seen anything to date that changes my mind. OHIO STATE 17, IOWA 13.
Jon's Game Week predictions since the start of the 2001 season: 46-7 (86.8% accuracy) The Misses: 2001: Iowa State & Michigan; 2002: USC; 2003: Michigan State & Ohio State, 2004: Penn State, 2005: Iowa State.
Tune into 1040 WHO after the game for ‘Soundoff' with Jim Zabel & Jon Miller. Also catch ‘Cy-Hawk Talk; State of the Nations', an hour long television show on Mediacom Connections Channels throughout the state. Jon Miller and Steve Deace break down the week that was as well as the next game on the schedule. The program will air at 5:30pm on Friday and 10:00am on Saturday. Check your local listings for the channel in your area.