IOWA CITY, Iowa — Ohio State has lost games in lopsided fashion before, like 31-0 to Clemson last season in the College Football Playoff, or 63-14 at Penn State in 1994.
But those were to comparable teams. Iowa was a three-touchdown underdog Saturday.
Beginning with the interception J.T. Barrett threw on his first pass that was returned for a touchdown, the upset pendulum was swinging.
The defense couldn’t stop what been a quite stoppable Nate Stanley and the Iowa offense in earlier games, and the offense — Barrett, who had his greatest game as a collegian the week before, threw four interceptions as the offense floundered. The more disciplined, better prepared and more creative team won 55-24.
Receiver Johnnie Dixon caught two touchdown passes, the first when it looked as if Ohio State was going to take control after a shaky start. The second came with 4:37 left in the game when otherwise all was lost. He didn’t take a postgame bow, and neither did the rest of the Buckeyes. Only center Billy Price and defensive end Tyquan Lewis met with the media. Safety Jordan Fuller did have 10 tackles, but that’s because he and the rest of the defenders often were chasing Iowa receivers, especially tight ends.
At least the kickoff coverage unit was fixed, as coach Urban Meyer had promised. Iowa was limited to 44 yards on three returns off kicks from freshman Blake Haubeil, who also recorded a touchback.
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Back to those two touchdown passes to Dixon: The Buckeyes did find some things in the seams of the Iowa defense, but not enough. There was a pronounced effort to throw, especially after falling behind early, but Ohio State ran just 30 times, with Barrett leading the way with 63 yards on 14 carries. J.K. Dobbins had 51 yards on six carries — an 8.5-yard average — but again, he had just six carries.
Like Oklahoma, the Hawkeyes were able to catch OSU linebackers and safeties running to the fire, and Iowa sneaked tight ends into the secondary in various ways to take advantage of that.
The four interceptions thrown by Barrett, the first of which was returned for a touchdown and another that set up an Iowa touchdown before halftime for 31-17 lead.
Left tackle Jamarco Jones and right guard Demetrius Knox left the game within two plays of each other in the second quarter, both because of apparent lower-leg injuries. But each returned to the lineup soon after
By the numbers
4: Buckeyes tossed from a game this year for targeting as Nick Bosa joined the club.
95: Penalty yards for Ohio State on nine calls after entering with 600, the 13th most imposed on a team in the country
Michigan State will come to Ohio Stadium after knocking off Penn State 27-24. Who knew weeks ago the game would be for supremacy in the Big Ten East, with each sitting at 5-1? For the Spartans, the only conference team to have beaten an Urban Meyer-coached Ohio State team twice sees the possibilities.