OSU Looks Ahead To Iowa

Last year's 33-7 drubbing in Iowa City was the low point of the season for Ohio State. The Buckeyes rebounded and turned in a solid season, but that didn't take away the sting from the Iowa game. The Hawkeyes will come to town Saturday and OSU would like nothing more than to return the favor. We have comments from defensive coordinator Jim Heacock and several players.

Ohio State's 33-7 loss at Iowa last year was the low point of the season, the largest margin of defeat in the Jim Tressel era, and the Buckeyes are still embarrassed about their performance.

It's been almost a full year, but OSU (2-1) will have its chance to get even Saturday when the Hawkeyes (2-1) come to Columbus for a noon kickoff in the Big Ten opener.

"I think we've gotten better and that's the thing we're trying to do is get a little bit better each week," OSU defensive coordinator Jim Heacock said. "We all know that this week coming up is a big challenge for us. We've had three games now to prepare for it and hopefully we have done what we need to do to put together a great game for next Saturday."

Ohio State junior cornerback Ashton Youboty still finds it hard to believe that OSU was trounced by 26 points last year in Iowa City. Moments after the Buckeyes' 27-6 win over San Diego State on Saturday, Youboty was talking revenge.

"Next week, I'm not on offense, but if it was up to me, I'm trying to return the favor," he said. "Defensively, as long as we're disciplined on the D-line – they played a great game (against San Diego State) and if they play like that next week, my job will be easy."

Youboty says the Buckeyes studied Iowa during the offseason.

"During the summer, we watched a lot of other teams," he said. "We can watch every film we want, not just one team. I always turned on some Iowa film. (Iowa quarterback Drew Tate) has receivers and he's just a great quarterback. Their running game has improved. They had their third running back against us last year. So, they have all their guys back and they're going to run their stuff. We have an idea of what they're going to try and do and we just have to stop them. They know we're coming."

Ohio State defensive end Mike Kudla knows it's imperative to begin the Big Ten season on a winning note, no matter what happened last year.

"Next week starts the Big Ten and that's why we're all here," Kudla said. "It's Big Ten football and it's going to be smash mouth. So, everyone who was there last year knows exactly what happened and what the stakes are this year. We're going to have to have a good week of preparing and really focus on locking on these guys and be fully ready for these guys."

Kudla was asked what Iowa's offense does especially well.

"Well, with us they boot a lot," he said. "They'll boot us a couple different ways and that's one of the deals that kept us off key last year. What we need to do is really focus in on that and Drew Tate is a good running quarterback, so luckily for us we had a good camp working against Troy (Smith) and working against running quarterbacks. And we've already had a couple tests this year with running quarterbacks, so I think we're really focus in on that stuff."

A loss to Iowa last year would have hurt regardless of the score because it was OSU's third consecutive loss. But the fact that Iowa blew the Buckeyes out just added to the pain for the players.

"Oh definitely," Kudla said. "That was embarrassing for us and I remember coming back here and that was a low point for us. Losing like that, that kind of hits you hard. The coaches really drove it home and I think that was the turning point for us last season because we really hit rock bottom after that. We have to go in there with that attitude and make an early statement. We need to go out there and play defense like we should, you know, silver bullets flying around and let's get after it."

Defensive end/linebacker Bobby Carpenter agreed.

"Oh, they obviously embarrassed us last year," he said. "I know everyone has been looking forward to this. We were all looking forward to Texas, but after the Texas game, this is a bigger game in all honesty because when you got beat up by the bully at school you better come back the next day and show him what you have. We've had to wait an entire year to prove that we can play with Iowa. Last year, you know, 33-7 was tough, but we're going to come out and be physical with them."

With the loss to Texas, OSU now is focused on winning its first outright Big Ten championship since 1984. The Bucks will likely have to run the table to do it and it all starts with the Hawkeyes.

"It's a big one," OSU middle linebacker Anthony Schlegel said. "Just because, like you said, coming off the loss last year and it's our Big Ten opener. We're just ready to show this country what we can do. Every week is a test and we're ready for that test. And honestly, the focus in the locker room is that we can't wait to get out there and start practicing for Iowa. You know it's going to be a hard-fought, Big Ten battle and fortunately for us it's in the ‘Shoe. We're ready to get going and prepare, because they have a great ball club coming in here."

Schlegel was asked if the score last year really matters, or if too much is made of that.

"It matters, just because you want to make sure that the guys that weren't there know what it was like," he said. "It was 33-7 and we didn't play very well defensively. In order to be a great defense, you can't play like that. So, we're going to hit the practice field this week really hard and just come out here and try and play a solid game."

Smith will be under center for just his second start of the season against Iowa and says he's ready to begin the conference slate.

"Not to take anything away from the guys we played out of conference, the Big Ten is, to me, the toughest conference to play in," Smith said. "There are great teams across the board."

Senior fullback Schnittker echoed those comments and elaborated.

"The Big Ten is, I think, the best conference in the country," Schnittker said. "You have so many teams each year playing in bowl games. They're big, fast and physical. It's a great challenge for us. We feel our program should be at the top of the Big Ten every year. That's what we have been working so hard for all spring and all summer.

"I think we're improving. I don't think we're ready to win the Big Ten right now. But you can only play one game at a time. The Big Ten will provide a much bigger challenge."

The Hawkeyes also suffered a disappointing non-conference loss (23-3 against Iowa State) but Schnittker knows Iowa will bring their best game to Columbus on Saturday.

"Iowa is a great team," he said. "Everybody remembers what happened there last year. Most of our team is back and we remember what happened very well. We're going to prepare like crazy this week and try to get after them."

Schnittker was asked if OSU's coaches will show the tape of last year's Iowa game this week.

"I hope they do," he said. "It's still fresh in my mind, but let's show it again. Let's show the young guys who weren't here what happened and the embarrassment and just get everybody ready to go."

Senior left guard Rob Sims knows the intensity is raised during Big Ten play. The teams know each other well and it seems to be a more physical brand of football.

"It's a huge difference from the non-conference to the Big Ten," Sims said. "It's a lot more physical. We're going to have to be ready. We'll need to come off the ball and make plays – better than we did today."

Sims thinks the Buckeyes will definitely watch last year's Iowa game on film this week.

"We'll still watch it 15 times," he said. "We need to watch it. We watched the San Diego State game from two years ago when we barely got out of there. We watched it a few times, so I'm sure we'll watch that Iowa game a lot and be talking about it.

"I'm sure it's going to be a rough week of practice. I'm sure we're going to go out there and they're going to kick our butt. But we need to get ready to go."

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