IOWA CITY, Iowa — Quarterback J.T. Barrett wasn’t made available to the media Saturday after No. 6 Ohio State’s 55-24 loss to Iowa, and coach Urban Meyer preferred to defer his judgment on what went way wrong in the passing game until he had time to study the video.
But suffice to say that Barrett, who turned in arguably his greatest game as a collegian in a come-from-behind victory over Penn State the week before, had one of his worst against the Hawkeyes.
Four interceptions spoke loud when it came to his problems, countering his otherwise 18-of-34 passing for 208 yards and three touchdowns.
The first interception came on his first pass of the game and was returned 30 yards for a touchdown by Amani Hooker. Another came when the Buckeyes were trying to mount a counterattack just before halftime after Iowa had gone up 24-17 when he threw toward a well-covered Marcus Baugh.
Joshua Jackson grabbed that one, which set up Iowa for a touchdown just before the half and pushed the lead to 31-17. Jackson went on to grab two more in the second half.
And on two of the interceptions, Barrett took time and then tried to fire a pass through a tight window. The latter ploy had served him well in his rise the previous six games, which put him solidly in the national conversation for the Heisman Trophy. But the former, the hesitation before the throw, got him in trouble against the Hawkeyes as that Heisman talk took a powder.
“I can’t see much down there,” Meyer said when asked to evaluate what went wrong with Barrett and the passing game. “I hear what’s going on from upstairs (where offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day sit side by side in the press box), and they (Hawkeyes) were baiting him.
“They were playing between two receivers, that’s their coverage, and we just didn’t play very well. I will know more after watching the videotape and evaluate then.”
Another turning point
The Buckeyes collapsed after Nick Bosa’s targeting ejection late in the second quarter, but Meyer believed another turning point came on Ohio State’s previous offensive possession.
The Buckeyes got the ball at their 43 with the score tied at 17 midway through the second quarter after a rare three-and-out by Ohio State’s defense. But two injuries on the offensive line helped scuttle the drive.
Left tackle Jamarco Jones hurt his right leg and he was replaced by Joshua Alabi. On the next play, right guard Demetrius Knox was injured, with Matt Burrell taking over. Barrett ran for a first down on fourth down, but two plays later, Alabi blocked inside, leaving an unblocked blitzer, and Barrett was strip-sacked. Though Alabi recovered, the 9-yard loss and ensuing incompletion forced a punt.
“One guy goes in and makes a mistake, allows a sack and a fumble,” Meyer said.
Both Jones and Knox returned, but the tide had turned for good.
Running backs underused?
Ohio State ran the ball 30 times for 163 yards, a respectable 5.4-yard average. But J.K. Dobbins got only six carries. He gained 51 yards, including a 35-yarder that set up a field goal in the first quarter. Mike Weber got five carries and gained 27 yards.
Dobbins has not gotten more than 14 carries since the opener at Indiana.
Asked if he thought running backs were underused, center Billy Price said he trusted the coaches.
“I trust in everything they’re going,” he said. “They saw some things and were trying to get some things working. Attack their secondary, attack their second level — the linebackers.
“My personal opinion doesn’t really matter. I go out and execute what we’re supposed to do. I have full faith in the coaches, full faith in J.T., full faith in coach Meyer.”
Stanley throws 5 TDs
Iowa’s Nate Stanley tied a career-high five touchdown passes in his second career start against a ranked team.
“As the year’s gone on, I definitely felt a little more comfortable in the pocket and having more trust in the offensive line,” Stanley said.
The offensive line allowed one sack, and Bosa’s ejection helped Iowa slow down the Ohio State pass rush.
“I didn’t really notice it at all. I thought it was another football play,” Stanley said of the targeting call on Bosa. “The refs have a really tough job, and (safety) is always something they’re looking for.”
Stanley found his most success targeting his tight ends. T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant combined for four touchdowns, and his fifth went to fullback Drake Kulick.
“(Offensive coordinator) Brian Ferentz has confidence in the tight ends that they can make plays,” Stanley said. Fant leads Iowa with seven receiving touchdowns this season.
Jackson gets hat trick
Jackson didn’t see the field on defense in last year’s upset win over Michigan, but he led Iowa’s defense in stopping the No. 2 scoring offense in the nation.
“It felt good,” Jackson said when asked about his three interceptions. “But I’m just glad we won.”
Jackson entered the game leading the nation in total passes defended. He added to his lead, and he became the third Iowa player, after Tyler Sash and Grant Steen, to record an interception hat trick.
“(Barrett) played a hell of a game. We just wanted to come out and execute, and try to contain him,” Jackson said.
Iowa's Desmond King won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2015, and Jackson might follow in his footsteps. He has five interceptions this season and credits his teammates for pushing each other throughout the week.