It’s nearly game day once again and the Hawkeyes are poised to hit the road for a second straight game, making it three straight weeks without a game in Iowa City. This week presents a unique challenge to the season as Iowa travels to Columbus, Ohio looking to win in the Horseshoe for the first time in 31 years.
Standing in their way will be the #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and one of the best offensive units the Hawkeyes have faced in years. That firepower has led to a DraftKings Sportsbook line that opened at 28.5 and moved all the way to 30.5 during the week before settling in at Ohio State -30 as of Friday morning. The over/under has been set at 49.5 leaving an implied final score of roughly 39-10 in favor of the Buckeyes.
Here at The Pants, we think that might be optimistic for the Hawkeyes. None of us are
dumb bold enough to take Iowa straight up in this one, but fewer than half of us are taking the Hawkeyes with the points. On average, we’re calling for a final score of Ohio State 44, Iowa 5. That puts us square on the over/under, but pretty firmly on the Buckeyes giving the points.
Here’s a look at our individual predictions for this week’s
I can think of a handful of “mercy games” in my time as an Iowa fan. Iowa was so completely and totally overwhelmed in those games that the opponent could’ve flirted with much higher points totals - easily into the 70s or 80s - were it not for coaches granting mercy and pulling starters, sometimes hilariously early in games. All of these opponents were halfway to the century mark (or nearly halfway there) at halftime or early in the third quarter. The three that stand out are 1994 at Penn State, 1995 at Ohio State, and 1999 at Michigan State (you could pick a lot from 1999-2000, honestly).
All three opponents featured incredible offensive talents - Ki-Jana Carter, Eddie George, Terry Glenn, Plaxico Burress, to name four; Ohio State’s current personnel is in the ballpark of those guys - good to great coaches in Joe Paterno, John Cooper, and Nick Saban, and good defenses that swallowed Iowa whole. You can find “highlights” for two of these games on YouTube (I couldn’t find 1999 Michigan State; I’m not complaining about that), and in all three games, Iowa couldn’t do anything in any phase. Lines were completely blown apart. Quarterbacks had pressure in their faces all day. Defense couldn’t tackle. Iowa attempted a fake field goal at Penn State and it’s the worst fake ever (1994 Penn State was the “pull the starters hilariously early” game; at 42-0, Penn State pulled Kerry Collins and had Wally Richardson taking snaps, meaning Paterno pulled starters in the second quarter). Michigan State returned a punt for a touchdown. Iowa found themselves on the short end of 45-0, 56-0, and 35-0 runs, with Penn State hitting 35 in the first quarter. Not great! The already-out-of-hand games didn’t get worse because mercy was granted by coaches that didn’t want to embarrass Hayden Fry and Kirk Ferentz more than they already had.
Which brings us to this year. I mention all of this to say, I’m not sure Ryan Day believes in mercy. He’s Cobra Kai on this stuff. Strike first, strike hard, no mercy. He’ll keep pouring it on, first-string or second. And you know what? He should do that! They will be playing for a playoff spot at the end of the year. Style points will matter if they lose The Game, so they must pour it on when they can. Add in the 55-24 angle, which Day hasn’t forgotten, and Iowa’s going to get boat raced. It will hurt, we’ll be mad about it, but we have to take our medicine Saturday.
Prediction: Ohio State 56, Iowa 0
In any normal year, I would have some cautious optimism about Iowa’s trip to Columbus. I would spending digital ink here talking about Iowa’s ability to keep games close with virtually everyone and pull high octane offenses into the rock fight we’ve grown to know and
love put up with because it has worked. But this year is not like most other years and there is no rock fight to be had. Sure the Hawkeye defense is great, but the offense has no rocks to fight with.
And thus I am expecting this to just be one of those rare games where we watch the Hawkeyes simply be bludgeoned by rock over and over and over and over. And over. The Vegas line is hanging around 29 points and the over/under is at 49, which implies a final score of roughly 39-10. I just see no world in which this putrid Iowa offense scores a touchdown and despite how truly good I think the defense is, the OSU offense is so deadly and one of only a handful of teams I trust to consistently beat the Hawkeyes over the top based on sheer athleticism alone. Give me the Buckeyes giving the points and I think they hit the over all on their own.
Prediction: Ohio State 56, Iowa 3
Ok, here goes nothin’. The nothing is going to be our offense. There is a saying that things are never as good or as bad as they seem. In the case of our offense, things are actually worse. It feels that every other day a new statistic comes out that shows just how awful Iowa’s offense is. Also, reading what Brian and Kirk Ferentz have said regarding offense, I’m surprised we ever have scored. Talk about being afraid of their own shadow! I’m surprised we don’t punt on third down. There’s less chance of something going wrong offensively if we just give the ball back to the other team. Our offense will be even worse against the Bucks. OSU is motivated because of our 55-24 woodshed game in 2017, and they need style points for the playoff and Heisman consideration. I am predicting at least one defensive score for Ohio State. Our defense and special teams will show up, but our offense will put them in impossible situations time and time again. After this, can the squad pick up the pieces and continue on, or does Captain Kirk lose the team. Unfortunately, it has that feel. Go Hawks?
Prediction: Ohio State 55, Iowa 0
I first would like to state that I am indeed going to be watching this game. I’d originally planned on fishing Saturday instead but you only get twelve Hawkeye football games a year (thankfully).
I’m not sugar coating my thoughts this week. This will not end well. My biggest hope for Iowa in the Horseshoe is for the defense to perform similar to how Notre Dame in the opener. Keep everything in front and just see what happens. Ohio. St having a bye before the contest was probably able to address how to slice and dice the Hawks soft coverage but again, it’s just my hope.
On offense, let’s just see SOMETHING pointing towards improvement. It has to be early in the game too unlike against Michigan.
And lastly, here’s hoping Iowa leaves Columbus healthy. With Illinois playing Michigan this week and Purdue heading to Maddison, there is an UBER SICKO scenario that sees the Hawks finish 8-4 and in the Big Ten Championship game. This crazy college football season deserves that outcome.
Prediction: Ohio St 41, Iowa 17
The last time I felt this helpless about an Iowa game, it was November 2016 and Michigan was coming to town. This is much different, though. There’s no mystique about Jim Harbaugh never winning as a player in Kinnick, no emotional build-up, and to be honest my “you couldn’t set the line high enough” take I had until kickoff was mainly a front.
Nope, this is just a hapless Iowa team heading to a place where they’ve historically struggled - just one win in Columbus during my lifetime but neither of my brothers! - and with reason. Ohio State is really freaking good. Probably the best team in the land and Ryan Day still remembers 2017 so ... It feels appropriate to fear the worst.
That being said, I have way too much respect for Phil to predict a 40-piece, even if that’s where this goes.
Prediction: Ohio State 38, Iowa 9
I am usually able to summon at least some small measure of optimism ahead of Iowa’s games against the blue chips of the world. No matter how the season has been going in any given year these are usually the games in which the Hawks put up their best fight and against all odds come away as the victors surprisingly frequently.
For this game, however, that measure of optimism is not just small but infinitesimal. Part of it is that Ohio State has a legitimate claim to make as the best team in the nation, their offense is light years ahead of most every other program. They’ve outscored their opponents 293-94, giving up no more than 21 points in any game this year. This year more than any other they are the Big Ten’s Death Star.
This is the first time since probably Iowa’s 2017 game against the Buckeyes that I felt Iowa had little to no chance. We all know what happened in that game, but that Iowa team’s offense feels like the Buffalo Bills when compared this year’s output. The Hawkeyes will come out and put up a fight, the players will give it everything they have and that’s respectable. But this year, against this team, that just won’t do it.
Prediction: Ohio State 38, Iowa 6
Blah. I’m so sick of this team and they couldn’t ask for a worse opponent on the road, off a bye, after a season-defining loss. Let’s get this over with. It’s not going to be close except at kickoff.
Prediction: Ohio State 56, Iowa 3
That’s how we see things playing out. How about you Hawkeye fans? Will you be sticking around to watch the whole game, or would you care to join us in watching the DVR of that 2017 game instead of even tuning in at 11am Saturday?