Four Factors in Review: Iowa at Ohio State

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, I just wanted Iowa to find a way. They didn't, but I'm not feeling too bad about it.

Good job. Good effort. It was that kind of game. Iowa did a lot of things right and, man, wasn't the first half fun to watch? But ultimately, the talented gap showed itself in the second half and Iowa couldn't find a way to win.

Find a way to run

Iowa added a new wrinkle to its offense on Saturday...the 3 TE set. It was extremely effective in the first half. The TEs were good blockers on the edge (and even better receivers). Keeping the personnel "heavy," Iowa was able to control the line of scrimmage and both Damon Bullock and Mark Weisman averaged over 5 yards per carry. Weisman was limited a little in his number of carries coming off an injury and only had 10. LeShun Daniels saw some of his first real action and did well with 14 yards on 4 carries. He had Iowa had 130 yards on 27 carries. A pretty solid day rushing the ball.

Find a way to score

Iowa put together 3 amazing drives to start the game. All were 10 plays or more, covered at least 65 yards and chewed up a lot of time. They did it by running the ball well and finding the TEs for short completions that kept the chains moving. The Hawks scored 17 points on those first 3 possessions and led by 7 at halftime. It was a perfect start to the game.

Even in the second half, Iowa found another way to score with a perfectly placed pass from Jake Rudock to Jake Duzey on a 1st-and-20 that Duzey out-ran the OSU secondary and took it to the house. It was just so beautiful. If Iowa can continue to keep a lot of multiple TE looks and still have a deep threat, then I expect the already solid running game to keep improving.

Find a way to shorten the game

Another success on the first 3 drives. Iowa had drives of 5:37, 3:48 and 6:31. Then even the 4th drive at the end of the first half was successful...even though Iowa didn't score and only moved the ball 13 yards, the were able to eat up enough clock and had a great punt by Connor Kornbrath that ensured OSU wouldn't have a shot to score. Iowa was able to eat up clock by running the ball and throwing safe passes to TEs. And extend drives by converting on third down.

In all, Ohio State only had 3 real possessions in the first half (one was just taking a knee at the end) and 5 in the second. Compare that to the Michigan-Indiana game...both teams had 8 possessions in just the second half!

The strategy was successful as Iowa was tied with OSU at 24 going in to the fourth quarter, but just couldn't get a stop or a score in the final 15 minutes.

Find a way to make adjustments

Oh no. Here in lies the problem. I only blame the coaching staff a tiny bit, because Ohio State really just flexed their 5-star talent muscle in the second half and won. But, after halftime, Iowa really struggled. It looked like Greg Davis went into panic mode realizing the offense needed to score every time they got the ball to keep up. This sent him into default mode. So he ditched the 3 TE sets that were working so well in the first half, went to 3 WRs instead, and started throwing the ball a lot. Iowa's third-and-shorts turned into third-and-longs and they weren't able to convert.

On defense, after giving up another long TD pass, as Urban Meyer pointed out, Iowa pretty much locked into a deep cover 2, man under look. Braxton Miller was able to dink and dump down the field...or when faced with a third down improvise and rush for the first. Iowa never really tried to pressure Miller and never had a spy to try to combat the running threat.

In Review

Iowa found a way to do a lot of things right in this game, but stopping Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde not one of them. It's something that nobody has found a way in the last 19 games now, so I suppose we can't feel that bad. Hopefully this will be a building game for the Hawkeyes. I think they are moving closer and closer to solidifying an offense identity and the defense won't face any offense like that in a long time.

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