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The Aughts in Review: A Few Words About Poisonous Nuts From Ohio

Continuing our look back at the decade that was in Iowa football, celebrating the highs and the lows -- and, hopefully, distracting us from the ongoing disaster that is Iowa basketball.  This series looks back at Iowa's results across the entire decade against every Big Ten foe, as well as Iowa State.  According to the alphabet, next up are those charming and humble scamps from Ohio State.


The pre-game atmosphere?  Great..  The game?  Not so much.

Iowa vs. Ohio State in the 00s: 1-5

2004: Iowa 33, Ohio State 7

2000: Ohio State 38, Iowa 10
2003: Ohio State 19, Iowa 10
2005: Ohio State 31, Iowa 6
2006: Ohio State 38, Iowa 17
2009: Ohio State 27, Iowa 24 (OT)


Remember how awesome Jonathan Babineaux was?  Pretty sure Justin Zwick still does.

BEST WIN: Iowa 33, Ohio State 7
Well, this is a pretty obvious choice, no?  The 00s were not very good to Iowa in the Iowa-Ohio State rivalry... which means they were really no different than the 90s, the 80s, the 70s... well, you get the picture.  The last time Iowa won more than two games against Ohio State in a decade?  The 50s, when they beat the Buckeyes three times.  Unfortunately, no Iowa coach since Evy has been able to solve the Buckeye problem, not even Hayden or (so far) Ferentz.  Still, for one game Ferentz managed to not just beat the Buckeyes, but give them one hell of an ass-beating.  Indeed, it was a historic whupping -- it was Ohio State's biggest defeat at the hands of a Big Ten opponent in the Aughts... by far.  Buckeye partisans are quick to point to the fact that the '04 outfit was Senator Sweatervest's worst team, a team transitioning from the '02-'03 glory days to the '05-'07 return to glory, and that's true.  They were an 8-4 outfit: solid, but far from spectacular.  Still, the margin of defeat makes it clear that this was no ordinary defeat -- this was a complete dismantling, the likes of which Ohio State rarely sees (at least on the receiving end), and almost never from a fellow Big Ten team.

For Iowa, the win was pure catharsis.  Not only was it Iowa's first win over Ohio State since 1991, it was the first win against OSU in Kinnick Stadium since 1983.  That was, um, a long time ago.  After a span of time that long, any win would have been a source of massive celebration... but a win like this was the most ecstatic cathartic release imaginable.  Imagine year after year of bullying, and then finally getting a chance one afternoon to turn the tables on that bully and deliver the sort of beating that you'd been receiving for so long.  That would feel pretty damn good, no?  And it did.  Oh, how it did.  The defense completely shut down the OSU offense (the only points they got came against Iowa's second-stringers) and Drew Tate and the Iowa offense had a field day: 448 yards of offense, a significant edge in time of possession, a 3-to-1 edge in turnovers, a monster game from Tate (26/39, 331 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, and a rushing TD thrown in for kicks)... shit, even the Sam Brownlee-led running game managed to go for 100+.  That was a good day.  My enduring memory of that game is Drew Tate sprinting down the field, arms windmilling like crazy, after hitting Clinton Solomon for a 36-yard touchdown to put Iowa up 24-0 in the third quarter.  The only place I could find that image recorded for posterity was in Scothawk's video tribute (ignore the Kid Rock tune and the very pixel-y video quality, sorry).


Is excessive douchebaggery still not a penalty?  Dammit.


WORST LOSS: Ohio State 27, Iowa 24 (OT)
You can certainly make cases for the '05 or '06 losses, considering that they were more vicious beatdowns and represented the end of a certain amount of hope about Iowa football.  On the heels of a third-straight 10-win season and the unforgettable Capital One Bowl victory and returning a slew of leaders on offense and defense, Iowa entered 2005 more hyped than at any point in years (if not decades) and proceeded to shit the bed in ugly fashion in two of the first four games of the season.  The Iowa State debacle at least had the built-in excuse of the Tate injury; they had a full-strength team for the Ohio State game and still got straight up clobbered.  It was really the Bizarro version of the '04 game, right down to a memorable post-play reaction from Tate.  Sadly, his celebratory arm-swinging from 2004 morphed into a petulant and frustrated ball-spike in 2005; still, each play perfectly encapsulated the overall tenor of the game. 

The national hype for Iowa had died down a bit prior to the 2006 game, but the hype among Iowa fans was infuckingsane.  From the moment that game was announced as a Satuday primetime game and that College Gameday was going to be broadcasting from Iowa City that day, anticipation reached dizzying heights; you could not have a conversation about Iowa football with someone without spending a little time talking about this game.  There hadn't been a home game more hotly anticipated in the KF Era (and you might have to go all the way back to the 1-2 game against Michigan to find another game as hyped) and everything right up until kickoff was pure magic.  The Gameday festivities were fun, the tailgating scene was incredible, the gold rush gimmick worked beautifully, and the atmosphere in Legendary Historic Kinnick Stadium prior to kick-off was amazing.  Pretty much everything after the kickoff?  Not so amazing.  In hindsight, we should have known we were doomed when Corso donned the Herky headTroy Smith dissected the Iowa defense (ably aided by Anthony Gonzalez running through the Iowa secondary like he was radioactive), the Buckeye defense forced Tate into numerous mistakes, and no one on Iowa could manage to stop the bleeding.

There are certainly valid arguments to be made in placing the '09 loss below either of those defeats, too.  Unlike those two losses, Iowa didn't get curbstomped, despite having nearly every reason to with a freshman quarterback making his first career start in Columbus, under some of the most intense pressure imaginable.  But just when it seemed as if they were on the verge of suffering yet another ugly blowout loss to OSU, down 24-10 in the fourth quarter, they managed to battle back and take the game into overtime -- again, without Mr. Fourth Quarter himself, Ricky Stanzi.  And in narrow defeat they gained more respect from pundits than they had for virtually any of their wins all season.  While all of that is unquestionably true, what gives this loss an extra sting is what was at stake.  Given Ohio State's dominance of the Big Ten in the Aughts, virtually any game between a good BXI team and OSU could be described as "crucial to the BXI title race"... but for once that wasn't empty hyperbole.  In 2009, the Ohio State-Iowa game really was the conference championship game and the stakes had a simple (but harsh) binary logic: win the game and go to the Rose Bowl, lose the game and go... well, not to the Rose Bowl, which was all that mattered.  At no other point in the 00s was Iowa as close to the Rose Bowl as they were here; not even after rampaging through the conference in 2002.  After finishing conference play that season, Iowa was still at the mercy of the BCS selectors and, as well all know, they wound up getting plucked away from the Rose Bowl by the Orange Bowl, who wanted to stage Rose Bowl East that year.  In 2009, though, there was no such ambiguity; earlier losses had removed both Iowa and Ohio State from the national title picture, so the only thing at stake was the Big Ten Championship and a trip to Pasadena.  So to get so achingly close to ending two decades of waiting, only to come up short?  Yeah, that's a loss that aches and aches -- and probably will continue to do so until Iowa can get the Rose Bowl monkey off its back.


Is it always this easy to beat Ohio State?  No, Drew.  No, it is not. (sigh)

PLAYER OF THE RIVALRY: Drew Tate (Iowa QB, 2003-2006)
Given Iowa's miserable track record against OSU in the Aughts, there aren't a whole lot of options here (although shout-outs are due to DJK and Marvin McNutt for their truly mansome efforts in the '09 game).  Tate's overall numbers against OSU in the Aughts (67/119, 726 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 1 rushing touchdown, and a 1-2 overall record as a starter) aren't anything too special, but he was the signature player in Iowa's lone win over the Buckeyes -- 26/39, 331 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a rushing touchdown for good measure.  In truth, that was one of Tate's best days ever as a starter; that it came in only his sixth career start and against a Buckeye defense (albeit one not up to par with some of the stingy outfits from elsewhere in this decade) is even more startling.  Tate was at his very best that day, whirling out of trouble time and time again and finding someone open downfield and throwing a perfect strike. 



The Sweatervest... smiles?

Let's give the devil his due: the Aughts were a Buckeye decade in the Big Ten.  They won more conference championships than anyone (six in total, including at least a share of the last five in a row; no other BXI team won more than three), had more 10+ win seasons (seven in total; no one else had more than four), appeared in more BCS bowls (seven in total; no one else appeared in more than three), and was one of only two BXI teams go go 8-0 in conference play -- and they did it twice (if you don't know the identity of the other BXI team to accomplish that feat in the Aughts... well, you're on the wrong damn blog).  Oh, and they had the Big Ten's only Heisman trophy winner (Troy Smith, 2006) and only National Champion (the 2002 Luckeye squad) in the Aughts.  You name it, the Buckeyes did it under Senator Sweatervest. 


Holding onto the ball: usually a good idea, although Troy Smith disagrees.


On the other hand, they were also one of the primary sources (along with Michigan's implosion from 2007-present) of the disintegration of the Big Ten's national reputation.  In the beginning, Tressel's big game bona fides were unqestioned; they went 3-0 in their first three BCS games, including the controversial national title win over Miami in 2002.  Then the 2007 BCS National Championship Game happened and his big game rep -- and the conference's image as a whole -- was unquestionably stained.  After a year-long march to the title game in which the Buckeyes were feted as unbeatable and unstoppable (especially after their outgunned Michigan in the latest Game of the Century of the Week), it turned out the emperor had no clothes.  The "Big Ten is slow and sucks" mantra spread like wildfire (perhaps it had ESSS EEE SEEE speed).  It wasn't helped by Michigan's failures (Appy State, Oregon) in 2007 or by Ohio State backing its way into yet another BCS National Championship Game and again coming up short (although at least this time they didn't shit all over themselves the way they had the year before -- progress!).  2008 brought more misery as USC dismantled the Buckeyes again on national TV and the Buckeyes again came up short in a BCS game (although this loss was even closer than the last -- again, progress!).  They finally managed to end their run of big game futility this season, with a Rose Bowl win over Oregon, but the Big Ten's national reputation has yet to be fully restored.  If the memory of reading story after story and hearing pundit after pundit drone on about how bad the Big Ten is still rankles... blame the Buckeyes.  They did as much to stain our reputation as any program. 


Anal beads?  Check.  Face paint?  Check.  Bad wig?  Check.  Douchebag transformation: COMPLETE.


And all the while their fans remained the most arrogant and unlikeable in the Big Ten.  So they've got that going for 'em.


  • Not a lot of good fodder here... but the fake field goal in 2003 was perhaps the best trick play of the Aughts for Iowa.  Completely and utterly unexpected and beautifully executed (holding?  LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU, CRAZY PERSON LALALA).  But that whole game was just fucking weird.  There was barely 400 yards of total offense combined and all of the points came from special teams or trickery.  OSU scored with a field goal, a punt return touchdown, a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, and a safety.  Craig Krenzel and the Buckeye offense did absolutely nothing against the Iowa defense... unfortunately, Nathan Chandler and the Iowa offense didn't do much, either, and the OSU special teams outscored our special teams.
  • The end result of the '09 game will ache for a long, long time, but DJK's kick return touchdown was pretty damn great and McNutt's pair of touchdown receptions were absolutely spectacular.  So that was nice.
  • And, man oh man, watching Brad Banks throw a touchdown pass to Dallas Clark to beat the 2002 Luckeye team and decisively settle the "who won the Big Ten" debate that year was really sweet and, what?  I just dreamed that?  Fuck.  So I'm guessing Jermelle Lewis also didn't make Mike Doss look like an overrated fool and Bob Sanders didn't hit Maurice Clarett hard enough to wish he was nursing a bottle of Grey Goose back in high school?  Dammit.
  • Whatcha got?