5 Answers: Ohio State at Iowa

This week we wondered how Ohio State would attack on offense, if Iowa would do anything out of the ordinary on defense, who would win the turnover battle and what would happen with special teams. Also in the spotlight was the Buckeyes' habit of starting slowly.

1. How will Ohio State attack the Iowa defense?

As suspected when quarterback Terrelle Pryor indicated his fondness for the game plan, head coach Jim Tressel and his offensive staff chose to de-emphasize the power running game that had worked so well for the previous month.

In response to Iowa's talented defensive line and practice of keeping its base defense on the field regardless of the offensive personnel, the Buckeyes chose to put more of the game in Pryor's hands, be that as a runner or passer.

"We just felt like we wanted to spray it around a little bit and make them tackle in space a little," Tressel said.

Pryor's 15 carries - including one sack and a couple of scrambles but also a liberal dose of designed runs - were the most since he had 18 in a 31-18 loss at Wisconsin on Oct. 16, and he ended up with 78 yards on the ground.

He threw for 195 yards and completed 18 of 33 passes, a 54.5 percent percentage that reflected an inconsistent day of delivering the football but also several catchable passes his intended targets dropped.


2. Will Iowa bring any wrinkles on defense?

For the most part, Iowa appeared to stick to its usual formula of a 4-3 defensive front with a cover-2 zone behind it.

When they twisted their defensive linemen, Ohio State appeared to handle it better than last season, perhaps owing to the experience the Buckeyes have gained in the past 12 months.


3. Who will win the turnover battle?

Both Ohio State giveaways were costly, but the Buckeyes prevailed despite failing to record a takeaway for the first time this season. Oddly enough, they are 2-0 this season when losing the turnover battle.

The last time they were minus-2 in turnovers and won was against Purdue in 2007.

Ohio State entered the contest at Iowa City tied for No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin at plus-1.4 per game, and Iowa was in a fifth-place tie in that category.


4. Can Ohio State avoid another slow start?

The Buckeyes did not fall into the early hole they did last week against Penn State or in their previous road game against a ranked team, but they did not come out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, either.

They punted on their first possession then had to settle for a field goal the second time they got the ball. After a three-and-out, Ohio State's last possession of the first half ended with an interception.

"I don't know that I loved the first half but I didn't have the same feeling I had a week ago," Tressel said.

Meanwhile, Iowa had success moving the ball early but only managed seven points.


5. And what about special teams?

Ohio State got the better of this battle.

The Buckeyes' kickoff coverage was solid and their kickoff return team gave the offense the ball at the OSU 39 or better on three of four kickoffs.

Devin Barclay's career-long 48-yard field goal in the fourth quarter was also crucial, as was a 40-yard miss by Iowa kicker Mike Meyer.

None of OSU punter Ben Buchanan's three punts were returned, and two of them pinned the Hawkeyes inside their own 20-yard line.


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