The Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0, 3-0) hosted the visiting Iowa Hawkeyes (3-3, 1-2) on a beautiful late-October Saturday afternoon for a Big Ten Conference contest.
This game marked the first time Ohio State head coach Ryan Day had coached against Iowa during his tenure as the head coach of the Buckeyes. The last time these two schools played was in 2017, which was a 55-24 victory for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa won the coin toss and elected to receive. The opening play from scrimmage saw Iowa quarterback Spencer Petra’s pass intercepted by Tanner McCalister, setting the Buckeye offense up deep in Hawkeye territory.
Ohio State was unable to get much going and had to settle for a 46-yard field goal from Noah Ruggles to make it 3-0 just under a minute into regulation.
Iowa looked to gain momentum on their next possession but was forced to punt after three plays.
On the ensuing possession, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud was sacked on the first play of the drive, fumbling the ball in the process. Joe Evans from Iowa scooped up the loose ball and raced 11 yards into the end zone for a Hawkeye touchdown. The extra point made it 7-3 Iowa with 13 minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Buckeyes bounced back and were able to put together a 10-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a two-yard touchdown run by Miyan Williams. The extra point by Ruggles made it 10-7 OSU with 8:15 to go in the first quarter.
The Buckeye defense forced another three-and-out on the following Iowa possession, giving the ball back to the offense.
The ensuing drive ended with Ruggles connecting on another field goal, this one from 41 yards out.
Yet another punt by the Hawkeyes resulted in a Buckeye field goal on their ensuing drive, this time a 35-yard kick from Ruggles. This was the last play of the first quarter with Ohio State up 16-7 after one.
Iowa put together a nice 10-play, 44-yard drive on their next possession that ended with a 49-yard field goal by kicker Drew Stevens, cutting the Buckeye lead to six points.
After trading punts with Iowa, Ohio State was able to get into field goal range for Ruggle’s fourth of the day, this one from 26 yards to make it 19-10.
The Buckeye defense came up big on the next possession as Tommy Eichenberg intercepted a Petras pass and took it 15 yards for a touchdown, extending the lead to 26-10 which would be the score at the half.
Ohio State received the opening kickoff of the second half, looking to extend their lead. Iowa had other plans, as Jack Campbell intercepted Stroud on the first play of the second half to set the Hawkeyes up with great field position. This was short-lived though, as Iowa fumbled the ball away on the very next play. The fumble was recovered by Taron Vincent.
From there, OSU was forced to punt. Just two plays later, McCalister came up with his second interception of the day to give the Buckeyes possession inside the red zone.
On fourth and one from the Iowa six-yard line, Stroud found Marvin Harrison Jr. for the touchdown strike. The extra point from Ruggles made it 33-10 OSU with under 10 minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Buckeye defense forced a turnover on downs on the next possession which led to Stroud throwing another touchdown pass, this one to Emeka Egbuka from 13 yards out. The PAT made it 40-10 late in quarter number three.
Iowa was forced to punt after a long drive, and then on the third play of the next series for OSU, Stroud hit Julian Fleming for a 79-yard touchdown. The extra point made it 47-10 early in the fourth.
Yet another turnover on downs was forced by the Buckeye defense to get the ball back to the offense. This proved to be the final drive for the OSU starters, as they went 40 yards in eight plays, capped off with a touchdown pass from Stroud to Mitch Rossi. This extended the lead to 54-10 which was the final score.
Statistically for Ohio State, Stroud completed 20 of 30 passes for 286 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. Fleming caught two passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, Egbuka caught six passes for 80 yards and a touchdown, and Harrison Jr. caught seven passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.
Standout receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba played a limited number of snaps for the Buckeyes in this contest and was only able to come up with one catch for seven yards.
OSU was only able to rush for 66 yards on 30 carries against the stingy Hawkeye run defense.
Defensively, McCalister led the Buckeyes with two interceptions. Lathan Ransom was the leading tackler with eight, followed by Eichenberg with seven and also an interception for a touchdown.
In total, the defense had five sacks and forced six turnovers in the game.
Kicker Noah Ruggles was perfect on the afternoon with four successful field goal attempts, including a 46-yard field goal which is his season long. He also converted all six extra point attempts on his way to earning Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance.
OSU head coach Ryan Day spoke with the media after the game.
“It’s an interesting game when you start off with the ball in plus territory. When you look up at the end of the game, you’d think the score would be different, but it was a very, very good job up front to take away so many things in the middle and force you to really throw the ball. We didn’t do as good of a job of executing running the ball early on, but we knew that it was going to take time to crack it with just the way that they are. I thought we played really good football there in the second half and got a good balance going.”
Day spoke about the remaining Big Ten schedule.
“It’s very important; the challenges are going to get bigger and bigger. We need to be balanced across the board; we need complementary football, we need special teams, you know, we need everything. This is a very good team coming in here; we had a lot of respect for this team coming in and they played well, especially on defense, and so for us to win like this, it’s good, but there’s still a lot to improve on and a lot to grow from.”
Quarterback C.J. Stroud spoke about the offense.
“The first half was kind of weird. When you start out a couple times on the 30 and 40-yard line, it’s hard to get the rhythm here. We just have to execute better. It’s good to get it under our belt because the second half of the season gets very tough and you have games like that where you’re not hot early on. You have to get going and so once we got it going, I feel like we became the dynamic offense that we are. Coach Day asks us what we see out there, what kind of leverage the receivers are getting, where the corners are, how the safeties are playing. He’s asking me what I thought, what I’ve seen, things like that. It’s constant communication just because we can help him and he can help us. We’re a team at the end of the day and I definitely think that is a recipe for success.”
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz spoke after the loss.
“It’s obviously disappointing to lose the football game today. When you’re coming in, you’re playing the top ranked team, and, you know, a very talented team, so we knew we’d have to play flawlessly, execute and take advantage of any opportunities. Playing a team like this, it’s going to be tough to come out on top playing that way. We’ll go back to Iowa, regroup like we do after every football game, reassess things tomorrow and then we’ll want to turn our focus to the next game. Big picture wise, we’ve got five left on the schedule and that’s our plan. Needless to say, we’re not where we want to be right now, but we’re going to keep pushing forward.”
Iowa fell to 3-4 with the loss and will host Northwestern (1-6) next week with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
Ohio State moves to 7-0 with the win and will travel to Beaver Stadium next week to take on the number 13 team in the country, Penn State (6-1). Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. for this contest. Penn State’s lone loss came on Oct. 15, a 41-17 defeat at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines.