The Buckeyes were struggling on their trip to Iowa City, and they called on their playmakers to roll out the Houdini act once again. Ohio State got several big plays down the stretch from the usual suspects, and emerged with a rugged 20-17 win.
The victory keeps the Buckeyes on pace to win a sixth straight Big Ten championship, and it keeps them alive in the discussion for a BCS bowl bid. It took a considerable amount of drama and clutch performances to get Ohio State to this point.
The Buckeyes fell behind, battled back, fell behind again, and then needed a commanding performance on both sides of the ball to close the deal in the closing moments. It was a classically typical performance that Ohio State has mustered in every outing this season, except its losing effort against Wisconsin.
The Ohio State defense came up with a sack and a three-and-out when the Buckeyes trailed by four late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor then made an athletic and dynamic run for a first down on a fourth-and-10 to keep a drive alive. He hit senior wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher for 24 yards down to the Iowa 2, as Sanzenbacher made a leaping, twisting catch while dancing just inbounds.
Two plays later, the Buckeyes scored to take the lead, and their defense performed an encore, sacking the Iowa quarterback and forcing the Hawkeyes to give the ball up on downs.
All of this helped to keep the Buckeyes locked in a three-way battle with Wisconsin and Michigan State at the top of the Big Ten, and keep Ohio State in the discussion for a BCS bowl. It also did a pretty good job of preparing the Buckeyes for their immediate future, which involves a clash with rival Michigan to close the season.
--With the win at Iowa, Ohio State became the first team in Big Ten history to win at least 10 games in six straight seasons.
--TB Dan "Boom" Herron has at least one touchdown in 10 straight games.
--With the win at Iowa, Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor moves to 29-4 as the starter for the Buckeyes.
--WR Dane Sanzenbacher has at least one pass reception in 17 straight games. He had six catches for 102 yards in the win at Iowa.
--TE Reid Fragel had the first touchdown reception of his career in the third quarter of the win over Iowa.
--LB Brian Rolle had 10 tackles against Iowa.
GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Terrelle Pryor -- Ohio State's ultra-athletic junior experienced all the highs and lows possible in the recent road win at Iowa, with a pair of bad interceptions that cost his team at critical times, and a couple of stunning plays that helped pull the game out of the fire. Pryor's biggest contribution was a scrambling, slicing, clutch fourth-down run on Ohio State's winning drive that got the first down, and possibly broke Iowa's spirit.
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Dane Sanzenbacher -- The senior captain for the Buckeyes had a critical 24-yard reception in the closing minutes of the win at Iowa, setting up his team at the Hawkeyes' 2-yard line. Ohio State pushed in for the score moments later. Sanzenbacher has clearly been Ohio State's most reliable option in the passing game this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Our guys don't panic, they believe and they keep fighting. We felt like it was going to be a four-quarter heavyweight bout. Iowa's never going to stop fighting. Our guys never stop." -- Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, on his team's win at Iowa.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: Ohio State knew its special teams play had to improve after a sloppy start to the season in that department, and it appears that has taken place. The kick coverage is much better, and in the crucial win over Iowa on the road senior PK Devin Barclay drilled a career-best 48-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that provided the eventual margin of victory.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The Buckeyes saw moments of both brilliance and ineptitude from their gifted quarterback in the win at Iowa. Junior QB Terrelle Pryor threw behind receivers, threw at their feet, and threw into triple coverage. He also fired a perfect strike of 60-plus yards that WR DeVier Posey dropped, and threaded the needle to find WR Dane Sanzenbacher for a critical completion on Ohio State's winning drive. Pryor needs consistency and better control of his touch before he becomes a great quarterback.
--WR Corey "Philly" Brown had to be helped off the field after sustaining a neck injury while being tackled around his head in the first half at Iowa. Brown returned in the second half.
--QB Terrelle Pryor was stretching and exercising his right shoulder after taking a solid hit on a second-half run against Iowa, but he stayed in the game and continued to pass the ball.
--LB Dorian Bell, who had been out of the lineup for three straight games with a concussion but returned on special teams in the Nov. 13 win over Penn State, was back working with the Buckeyes' kicking units at Iowa.
--LB Etienne Sabino, who had agreed with the Ohio State coaches to redshirt this season since there was considerable depth at the position, has remained in a redshirt despite the rash of injuries the Buckeyes have suffered.
--DB Christian Bryant had surgery in midseason to clean out a persistent infection in his foot, and he has been out of action since then. Bryant possibly could be available for the bowl game.
The TSX Files: Ohio State
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