B/R Ohio State Featured Columnist
It's really a simple formula for Ohio State.
Win out and go to the Rose Bowl as Big Ten Champions.
That's right—The Buckeyes completely control their own destiny, much to the chagrin of the rest of the conference, and the nation.
A lot of fans and so-called experts believe that the Hawkeyes (8-0, 4-0) are going to win the rest of their games -- which includes a trip to Columbus to face the Buckeyes (6-2, 4-1) on November 14th -- and thus win the Big Ten.
Personal bias aside, I honestly believe the Buckeyes are every bit as good as Iowa, if not better. That will certainly be settled on the field soon enough, but here are the stats and facts that support my position for you to ponder in the interim.
Wins, Losses, and Close Calls
As I already noted, Iowa does not have any losses yet but they have had close calls against Northern Iowa, Arkansas State, and Michigan (all at home) and on the road against Michigan State.
Against FCS cupcake Northern Iowa (5-3), the Hawkeyes blocked not one, but two field goals in the final seconds to survive by a slim one-point margin, 17-16.
Arkansas State (2-4) of the Sun Belt Conference, which has only been an FBS program since 2001, pulled within three points of Iowa in the closing minutes only to run out of time in their 24-21 loss.
Michigan (5-3, 1-3) trailed Iowa by only two-points with just under a minute to go. They were driving toward a possible game-winning field goal or touchdown when true freshmen quarterback Denard Robinson made an ill-advised pass that was picked off, and Iowa just barely eked out a 30-28 win.
Last week, Iowa trailed Michigan State 6-3 entering the fourth quarter and hardly resembled a 7-0, top ten team. After kicking two field goals to take a 9-6 lead with 2:56 remaining in the game, the Hawkeyes short-lived lead disappeared with 1:37 left when Kirk Cousins connected with Blair White for a 30-yard touchdown.
Trailing 13-9, Iowa managed to quickly get down the field versus a very vanilla prevent defense by the Spartans, and with less than 20 seconds left, had the ball 1st and goal just a few yards inside the 10.
After passes on first, second, and third down were all incomplete, Iowa had time for one final play. As luck would have it, Ricky Stanzi connected with Marvin McNutt on a quick slant for a seven-yard touchdown as time expired and Houdini escaped once again.
The Buckeyes only close call came against Navy (6-2) in week one in their 31-27 win. I won't make excuses but I will mention that Navy is a good team and they are an FBS program, but Ohio State was never in danger of being behind and the game really was never in doubt despite the late comeback and closer-than-expected final score.
The Buckeyes 18-15 loss to USC could have, and probably would have been a win if Coach Tressel was not the most conservative play-caller to have ever lived.
As for the Purdue debacle, that was a clear case of the players and coaches not being prepared and completely taking a win over the Boilermakers for granted. Line them up nine more times and Ohio State wins all nine, guaranteed.
But wait, there's more!
Everyone has been ripping on Ohio State, and specifically quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Jim Tressel, for how "bad" the Buckeye offense has been this season.
Iowa is averaging 23.6 points per game and 342 total yards.
Ohio State is averaging 29.3 points per game and 353 total yards.
That's not a misprint or typo. It's close, but Iowa's offensive numbers aren't quite as good as Ohio State's, but for some reason, nobody else has seemed to notice.
Iowa did hold Penn State, who had been averaging 30 points per game, to 10 points, but let's be honest here. The Nittany Lions put up those points against Akron, Syracuse, and Temple -- not exactly a who's who list of powerhouses.
Iowa has given up an average of 297 total yards per game and 14.8 points.
Ohio State has given up an average of 285 total yards per game and 13.1 points.
Again, the numbers are close, but the slight edge goes to Ohio State, and I for one do not believe Iowa would have held USC to 18 points, nor would they have beaten them either. Sorry Hawkeye fans, I'd be surprised if USC didn't beat Iowa by at least 14 or more points.
Common Opponent: Wisconsin
Iowa outgained the Badgers in total yardage (283 to 230) and won by a final of 20-10 after entering the fourth quarter tied 10-10.
Ohio State was outgained by the Badgers in total yardage (368-184) as the defense certainly bent, but never broke. The Buckeyes pulled away in the third quarter, and went on to a fairly comfortable 31-13 win.
Like I said, all of this may mean something, or possibly nothing, when the teams meet up in Ohio Stadium in a little over two weeks.
Ricky Stanzi isn't a bad quarterback by any means but overall, Terrelle Pryor has better stats, is absolutely a better athlete, and has more talent around him than does Stanzi.
And now that the Hawkeyes leading rusher, Adam Robinson is out for the year, I feel even more confident that the Buckeyes can beat the Hawkeyes.
But I suppose I better not count my Buckeyes before they fall from the tree, since the last time I did that, we lost to Purdue...
So for now, let's take it one game at a time.
Go Bucks—Beat New Mexico State!