There’s just something about playing on the road at Kinnick Stadium.
Last year Michigan which significantly hurt its College Football Playoff chances with a loss at Iowa. On Saturday, it was No. 6 Ohio State. And the Buckeyes, after a huge comeback win over Penn State last weekend in Columbus, were blown out of the building by the Hawkeyes 55-24 in one of the more stunning outcomes of the season so far.
It was evident early on — the first play, actually — that this was going to be a tough day for Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett.
Barrett launched his way back into the Heisman conversation with an incredible performance last week. On Saturday, he had an incredibly bad performance. His first pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Iowa’s Amani Hooker.
It was a sign of things to come.
With 20 total points scored in the first quarter, it was apparent this wasn’t going to be your usual low-scoring, Big Ten slugfest. And the second quarter showed Iowa was not going to comply with Ohio State’s plans to return to the College Football Playoff.
The Hawkeyes are not exactly an offensive juggernaut, but the Buckeyes had no answer for Brian Ferentz’s unit in this one. Iowa scored seemingly at will with Ohio State matching the Hawkeyes touchdown for touchdown — until Barrett started throwing the ball to the guys wearing the black jerseys.
Barrett and the Buckeyes regained possession down 24-17 late in the first half. Other than the first interception, Barrett was having no trouble throwing the ball. But he threw a second interception on that drive. Josh Jackson picked him off and returned the ball to the OSU 22.
Three plays later, Iowa QB Nathan Stanley — who played the best game of his young career — hit Noah Fant for a touchdown to give the Hawkeyes a shocking 31-17 lead going into the break.
There was plenty more where that came from in the second half.
The teams traded punts on the first four possessions of the third quarter before Iowa extended its lead. And it did so with a wacky “swinging gate” play after the Hawkeyes special teams unit shifted from a usual field goal formation. From there, holder Colten Rastetter threw an 18-yard pass to long snapper Tyler Kluver to set up first and goal.
Stanley threw the fourth of his eventual five touchdown passes on the next play, and the rout was on.
When the dust finally settled, Iowa won by 31 and outgained OSU by 31 yards. Barrett finished the game 18-of-34 for 208 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. Jackson had three of them. This one-handed pick was his best by far.
Barrett entered the game with just one interception all season. It was perhaps the most surprising element of a crazy upset in Iowa City. And a stat that probably knocks him out of the Heisman race entirely.
Now at 7-2 (5-1 Big Ten), the Buckeyes’ chances to return to the College Football Playoff are in serious jeopardy. Michigan State, which shocked Penn State Saturday in East Lansing, comes to Columbus next weekend in a game that could decide the Big Ten East champion.
As far as the Big Ten as a whole, Wisconsin, is likely the conference’s only serious contender to make the playoff. Without any impressive wins under its belt — the Badgers beat Indiana on Saturday — and the reality Wisconsin will face a team with at least two losses in the Big Ten title game, the Big Ten’s chances of having a playoff team dropped precipitously on Saturday.
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