IOWA CITY – Ohio State defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones pretty much summed up the Buckeyes’ 55-24 loss to Iowa on Saturday with his reaction to jumping offsides in the fourth quarter long after any chance of winning had disappeared.
Iowa was backed up on its own 1-yard line after intercepting J.T. Barrett for the fourth time when an overeager Jones jumped across the line of scrimmage.
He immediately put both of his hands on his helmet after the flag dropped. Then he walked away, punching at the air several times.
Jones’ “Oh, my” reaction could have been shared by a lot of people, including Ohio State’s players, coaches and fans. And possibly by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who faces the real possibility that the Big Ten could be left out of the College Football Playoff for the first time since it started in 2014.
The playoff question will be answered over the next few weeks. But Ohio State probably left Kinnick Stadium with the gnawing feeling that questions it thought had been answered might still need to be addressed.
The good will and optimism created by six straight wins since a loss to Oklahoma, the apparent return of the good J.T. Barrett who throws only touchdowns, not interceptions, and the momentum created by last week’s huge comeback against Penn State are all in doubt again.
In addition to that, Ohio State’s linebackers and defensive backs were exposed as probably not as good as they have been portrayed and not playing as well as they need to be.
It was the worst loss of Meyer’s six seasons. Oh, the 31-0 loss to Clemson in a semifinal of the College Football Playoff last season was bad. But that was against a team that won the national championship and had been national runner-up the year before.
This was against a team that had a 5-3 record coming into the game, had struggled to score points and whose two starting offensive tackles are a redshirt freshman and a true freshman.
Even with the loss, Ohio State can go to the Big Ten championship game if it beats Michigan State, Illinois and Michigan the next three weeks. But even with a win in the Big Ten championship game, there appears to be no way the Buckeyes, with two losses, are going to be one of the four teams chosen for the playoff.
And, from a Big Ten standpoint, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State, with two overall losses, are out of the playoff picture. If Wisconsin remains unbeaten, there is no guarantee it would be playoff bound.
And if the East Division champion would hand Wisconsin its first loss in the Big Ten championship game, it could eliminate the Badgers from playoff consideration.
Ohio State had beaten Iowa 13 of the last 14 times the two teams played before Saturday’s game.
The Hawkeyes’ last win over the Buckeyes was in 2004 in a game where they dominated the game in a 33-7 win.
It took a long time for history to repeat itself. But that was no comfort to Ohio State.