5 Answers: Iowa at Ohio State

With Iowa coming to town, we wanted to see how the Buckeyes would contend with a redshirt freshman quarterback, protect their own passer, take the ball away, prevent Iowa big passing plays and run the ball.

1. How will Iowa's backup quarterback perform?

James Vandenberg did a lot of good things in his first career start.

The redshirt freshman completed 20 of 33 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns, a far cry from his performance a week before during a loss to Northwestern.

"I can't say enough about that kid," Ohio State linebacker Austin Spitler said. "He exceeded my expectations as a guy who just got thrown in there. He made huge plays. I don't know what they were running but those deep posts or whatever were getting after us."

Vandenberg remained poised for much of the game and led a 70-yard game-tying touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, but his three interceptions are impossible to ignore.

He had two other throws that could have gone in the books as picks as well, but one was called back thanks to Ohio State being offside to start the play and another saw one Ohio State defender knock the ball away from a teammate.

2. Will the Buckeyes be able to protect Terrelle Pryor?

After the Ohio State offensive line kept its quarterback clean in the pocket last week at Penn State, Iowa sacked Pryor twice.

The first was a coverage sack late in the second quarter, and the second time he had good initial protection then rolled into star Iowa end Adrian Clayborn for a 13-yard loss on a third-and-2 in the third quarter.

Iowa's 2-deep coverage seemed to have more with Ohio State's low passing numbers than did pressure on Pryor.

"We played a solid game, bottom line," said Iowa safety Tyler Sash.

3. Which team will take the ball away more?

The two teams came into the game with a combined 51 takeaways, but Ohio State had all three in Ohio Stadium yesterday.

Vandenberg's first interception killed an Iowa drive near midfield in the second quarter, and his second set up Ohio State at the Iowa 49 one play before Brandon Saine sprinted 49 yards for a touchdown that gave the Buckeyes a 24-10 lead with 11:11 left to play.

Ohio State's third interception came on a desperation throw in overtime when Anderson Russell cradled a pass in the end zone.

4. Can the Hawkeyes make big plays down the field?

Iowa came into the game making a living on deep passes, and the Hawkeyes were able to hit a couple of big ones against the Buckeyes.

Marvin McNutt caught a 33-yard pass to set up Iowa's first touchdown, and fellow receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos got deep for a 55-yarder in the third quarter gave the Hawkeyes a chance to score in the third quarter but Daniel Murray missed a 22-yard field goal.

5. Can the Buckeyes keep the running game going?

Until Iowa's comeback, the story of the game was the Ohio State running game as running backs Saine and Dan Herron combined for 200 yards.

"That's extraordinary," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. "And they were breaking tackles and they were keeping their pads low and they were doing a great job."

Saine (103 yards) gave the Buckeyes their first lead with an outstanding 22-yard touchdown run in which he made several Hawkeyes miss, and Herron (97 yards) put Ohio State ahead again with an 11-yard run from a direct snap in the third quarter.

"If you rush for 229 and they rush for 67, usually you're going to win, unless you let kickoff returns go back," Tressel quipped after the game.

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