The top-ranked Buckeyes capped a difficult September stretch with a 38-17 pounding of No. 13 Iowa. Ohio State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) defeated three ranked teams in the ninth month of 2006 –Texas, Penn State and Iowa – and beat them all by at least 17 points.
"One of the great challenges for this team – and we talked a lot about it – was how brutal our September schedule was going to be," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said in the Oct. 7 edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin. "But now that September is over, all that does is point out how tough October will be.
"We're 5-0 now, but we still have a lot of questions left to be answered. Can we handle the success of being 5-0? We've handled adversity pretty well, like coming to Iowa and winning despite being in a hostile environment. Now, can we continue to handle adversity as it comes? Will we continue to get better?
"Those are the things we'll be thinking about as we get into October. I have always said we are very capable of being a very good team. Our challenge now is to continue to improve and to see if we can attain the goals we've set for ourselves."
The Buckeyes had little trouble in exacting a bit of revenge for the last time they had played in Kinnick Stadium. In that matchup in 2004, Iowa pasted Ohio State 33-7 and Troy Smith had to enter the game in relief of then-starting quarterback Justin Zwick. This time Smith turned the tables and battered the Hawkeyes in front of a primetime audience. Smith outshined Iowa counterpart Drew Tate and finished with 186 passing yards and four touchdowns. Junior tailback Antonio Pittman helped the cause by rushing for 117 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.
Backup tailback Chris Wells had his collegiate game. The freshman netted 78 yards on 14 carries.
"That was our plan, to have a balanced attack," Pittman said. "We had the running game going early and we tried to continue that."
After holding Iowa to a three-and-out to start the game, Ohio State stormed down the field for the game's first touchdown. The Buckeyes went 54 yards on seven plays and reached the end zone on a Smith 12-yard scoring strike to Anthony Gonzalez.
"(Ohio State offensive coordinator and line) Coach (Jim Bollman) talked about all week we need to start early," center Doug Datish said. "We can't wait because if we start late the crowd's going to get into it."
Iowa answered with a 32-yard field goal by Kyle Schlicher later in the first quarter, but the Buckeyes took the momentum into halftime with a 21-10 lead. Pittman scored on a 4-yard touchdown run early in the second period, while Roy Hall added a 6-yard touchdown haul with 2:19 left before the break.
Ohio State had a chance to put the game out of reach after halftime when it took the opening kickoff. And that's exactly what the Buckeyes did.
Pittman took a Smith handoff 8 yards on the first play of the drive, and then Smith found Ginn on three straight pass plays for a total of 21 yards. Gonzalez and Smith connected for a 10-yard gain, and five plays later they found each other again. The future Indianapolis Colt eluded a linebacker and found himself free over the middle. He caught a short pass from Smith over the middle and then reversed his field, getting to the sideline, where he turned upfield and sprinted to the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown. An Aaron Pettrey extra-point boot extended the lead to 28-10 and essentially ended any chance for the Hawkeyes to pull off the upset.
Gonzalez's touchdown told the story of the game in one play. Gonzalez made seven Hawkeyes miss on the way to the end zone, and Iowa defense linemen were pancaked on one hit by OSU receiver Brian Hartline.
Much like Smith, the 2006 meeting was entirely different for Tate than it was two years earlier. Tate finished with 355 total yards in the '04 matchup, but the Buckeyes battered him in this contest. The senior was sacked twice and completed only 19 of 41 passes for 249 yards with three interceptions. Two of those picks turned into Ohio State touchdowns.
Ginn led the receivers with seven receptions for 69 yards. Gonzalez added five grabs for 77 yards and a pair of TDs.
Pettrey added a 36-yard field goal in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, and Robiskie closed the scoring with a 12-yard TD reception with 4:23 remaining.