Negate the Kinnick crowd

Iowa can be a notoriously tough place to play. The pink in the visiting locker room is infamous, and Hawkeyes fans are passionate. They will be loud and dressed for the occasion in blackout gear. It will be a tough atmosphere — ask Michigan and Penn State how their last games at Kinnick have been — and Ohio State will need to silence them early. The Buckeyes don’t want this game to go to the fourth quarter with the outcome in doubt.

Defensive ends must dominate

Injuries have forced true freshman Alaric Jackson and redshirt freshman Tristan Wirfs to take over for seniors at Iowa’s offensive tackle positions. Ohio State’s defensive ends should be salivating at that prospect. The Buckeyes are so deep at that position that they should be able to wear down and eventually wear out the freshmen. OSU cornerbacks should be prepared for Nate Stanley to try to get rid of the ball quickly.

Get Dobbins more touches

Freshman J.K. Dobbins hasn’t had more than 14 carries in a game since running 29 times in his debut against Indiana. Some of that has been because coaches didn’t want to risk using him late in blowouts. But last week he had 88 yards on only 13 carries. Dobbins is averaging 7.6 yards per carry, seventh-best nationally. In what could be a slog of a game, he has the talent to be a difference-maker — and lighten the load and risk off quarterback J.T. Barrett.

Special teams fix

Any discussion of Buckeyes’ potential issues has to include special teams, particularly kickoff coverage. Coach Urban Meyer has juggled kickers and coverage personnel. He doesn’t have faith in Sean Nuernberger or Blake Haubeil to kick the ball deep into the end zone, so the solution has to come from coverage. Look for the Buckeyes to add some starters to the mix.

Who has the edge against Iowa?


When Buckeyes

run

Edge

OHIO STATE

Iowa is stout up front, but the Buckeyes’ line has improved and OSU has the runners to break tackles.

 

When Buckeyes

pass

Edge

OHIO STATE

J.T. Barrett and his supporting cast answered questions about the passing game last week against a strong Penn State defense.

 

When Hawkeyes

run

Edge

OHIO STATE

Iowa’s run game has struggled, and if the Buckeyes can mostly stop Saquon Barkley, they can do the same against Akrum Wadley.

 

When Hawkeyes

pass

Edge

OHIO STATE

The Nate Stanley-to-Matt Vandeberg combination is a good one, but Ohio State’s pass rush should largely negate it.

 

Special

teams

Edge

IOWA

Until Ohio State sorts out its kickoff coverage issues, we’ll give the benefit of the doubt to its opponent.

— Bill Rabinowitz / brabinowitz@dispatch.com / @brdispatch

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