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THE MORNING AFTER — OHIO STATE

A win over the Buckeyes gave everyone a bit of fresh air.

Ohio State v Iowa
T.J. Hockenson is my spirit animal.
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Breathing is really pretty crazy if you think about it.

Your body is literally sustained by chemicals that are sucked inside you. If the air isn’t clean, or if you’re having issues getting it to your lungs, you start to die. Maybe not quick, if the air is just a little dirty, but over the time it can kill you.

Sure, you can use a mask to help filter it, or even a full blown oxygen tank to help keep you alive in a noxious environment.

It still will never be the same as a breath of clean, pure air. The type you take in when you walk out on your porch at 5 a.m. in the morning at your grandparents farm deep in the heart of Iowa. The type you take somewhere in the wilderness, far away from any other humans or civilization. The type that’s sadly become increasingly more rare to find.

It feels good. You almost want to bask in it because it feels so fulfilling. Your body is happy it’s being filled with the proper mix of nutrients. It tastes amazing, too. Sweet, almost. Depending on where you’re at, maybe it smells like pines. Or the ocean. Or something else entirely. Perhaps it even puts a smile on your face.

Saturday evening, we all got a breath of fresh air, no matter where you were.

Iowa beat sixth-ranked Ohio State 55-24 behind five Nate Stanley touchdowns, three interceptions from Josh Jackson and the best all-around performance we’ve seen this season from the Hawkeyes. It was fun from the first snap, when Amani Hooker took a J.T. Barrett interception back 30-yards for a touchdown.

I mean just listen to the crowd. It was jubilation, but for me it was something more. It was the realization that Iowa could hang with this team.

We have, of course, seen the Hawkeyes make explosive plays early in a game before and end up fizzling out in the end, but this felt different. This felt like the the Hawkeyes discovering early on in this game they could play with the Buckeyes.

I’ll never discount Iowa’s mental toughness or Kirk Ferentz’s power to motivate, but sometimes seeing really is believing. The simple power of belief cannot be discounted. It’s a strong force and once you get a group of people to really understand that, amazing things can happen.

An amazing thing did happen on Saturday afternoon in Kinnick Stadium. In fact quite a few did.

Here’s a list:

  • It was the most first-half points allowed by Ohio State since allowing 34 to Florida in the 2007 BCS Championship Game.
  • The 55 points scored are the most by Iowa in series history (65 meetings).
  • It marks the most points Iowa has scored against a ranked opponent since defeating No. 19 Texas, 55-17, in the 1984 Freedom Bowl.
  • Iowa intercepted QB J.T. Barrett four times. He had thrown just one interception in the first eight games of 2017.
  • Iowa handed Ohio State just its second road loss under Urban Meyer (26-2).
  • It is the most points Iowa’s scored against a Big Ten opponent since it scored 55 against Minnesota in 2008.
  • Josh Jackson tied a school record with three interceptions (Tyler Sash, Grant Steen).
  • This was the most points Urban Meyer has ever given up in his head coaching career. When he was a coach at Utah, his team once gave up 47 points in a loss to New Mexico.
  • This is also the first time an Urban Meyer-coached Ohio State team has given up 50 points.

It really is mind-boggling.

This play sums up the whole game pretty well, I think.

Throughout the year Stanley has been incredible in eluding sacks. Seriously, there’s been a whole bunch of times where him simply being strong has prevented him from going down or allowed him to get rid of the ball.

Still, this is one of those gutsy, tough plays that you need to get a win.

And I think we all needed this win.

It’s been a frustrating year, watching this team. The offense has been straight putrid for long stretches even when the defense has been giving the team every chance to win.

Today, however, everything clicked. Whether you have been wearing a mask this season or slowly dying from the fumes, this wind blew all the bad stuff away, at least for a moment.

How long does it last? I don’t know. I don’t honestly care.

Right now this is something good. Really good. It was fun and memorable and brought a smile or maybe even a tear to a lot of our faces.

It’s a warm summer breeze. It’s a cool mountain wind. It’s the rustle of the leaves as you’re wandering through a forest. It’s spray from the waves on your face as you walk along the beach.

It’s a breath of fresh air.