COLUMBUS, OHIO –
They all said and did some things that just weren’t them.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz doesn’t lose his temper, not when the cameras are rolling. He did Saturday.
The starting quarterback doesn’t spike the ball in frustration after a sack, drawing a penalty and nearly taking his team out of field goal position. Drew Tate did Saturday.
You don’t herd Iowa’s defense around the field like toddlers on a playground. Ohio State did Saturday.
Between Ferentz’s “Jesus Christ” and Tate’s meltdown and a punchless defense, it just wasn’t Iowa.
Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith spun the No. 21 Hawkeyes into the ground with 318 yards of offense, two rushing touchdowns and two passing TDs in the No. 8 Buckeyes’ 31-6 stroll before 105,225 fans at Ohio Stadium.
The Hawkeyes (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) weren’t themselves.
You know Iowa isn’t Iowa when Ferentz loses it. He grumped when Iowa Sports Information Director Phil Haddy interrupted his postgame press conference.
“Hey, Phil, can I finish and then we’ll let the players go?” Ferentz barked. “I mean, Jesus Christ.”
Ferentz immediately caught himself and apologized.
Ferentz wasn’t Ferentz. The Hawkeyes weren’t the Hawkeyes. Tate might have been Tate, though.
The junior quarterback is a competitive cuss who does have a temper. It exploded with 3:10 left in the third quarter. Iowa was trailing 24-0. On third down, Tate had been put on his back for one of the five sacks he endured.
He got up and slammed the ball to the turf, drawing a 5-yard delay of game penalty and moving the ball from the Ohio State 29 to the 34. But kicker Kyle Schlicher made a career-long 52-yard field goal that sneaked over the crossbar.
Last season, when things were sky high, it was competitive fire. In the dumps of a bummer of a Saturday, Ferentz called it dumb.
Give Tate credit, he faced the music. He initially snorted a “next question” when asked about the spike. But he eventually answered and, unshowered and still in a T-shirt and shorts, faced questions for more than 15 minutes.
Probably not the way Tate wanted to end the week, especially considering Hurricane Rita’s aim on his hometown Baytown, Texas. Tate said he didn’t know if his family members made it through OK. His stepdad, Dick Olin, did make to the game.
“Nothing was going right,” said Tate, who completed 22 of 39 for 146 yards and an interception. “I need to grow up, act like a Division I football player and stop wanting
everything to go my way.”
Nothing went Iowa’s way.
Led by Smith’s whirling, the Buckeyes (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) put up 530 yards. Behind a dominant and veteran offensive line, sophomore tailback Antonio Pittman skated for a career-best 171 yards. It was the first time since 1976 the Buckeyes had a quarterback and running back rush for 100 yards in a game.
“We felt like we could run any play that we wanted to and we’d be successful at it,” Ohio State center Nick Mangold said. “That’s the mentality that you want to have as an offensive line.”
Iowa’s offense was shackled, gaining 137 yards on 57 plays. Iowa’s rushing game, which enjoyed fat stats against Ball State and Northern Iowa, was put in a headlock, going for minus-9 yards on 18 carries, Iowa’s worst output since minus-15 in last season’s Big
Ten opener at Michigan. Running back Albert Young gained 25 yards on 10 carries. The five sacks put a minus-34 on Tate.
With the 23-3 loss at Iowa State, this offense has yet to score a touchdown in a meaningful game. The offense was supposed to be a strength, with six returning starters, an all-Big Ten quarterback and healthy running backs.
“I know a lot of people got carried away, perhaps, about our potential,” Ferentz said. “But potential is potential. You can look it up in the dictionary for what it means.
It’s what you do on the field that counts. It takes all 11 guys and we’re not there yet.”
If you look at Smith’s numbers, not to mention his athleticism, Saturday, you find it impossible to believe Ohio State had a quarterback controversy. Looking at Saturday, the only controversy is that Smith wasn’t the starter.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior opened Iowa’s defense like a tuna can.
Whether it was the speed option, drop-back pass or pure athletic ability, the Hawkeyes had no answer for Smith. His 318 yards of offense ranks 11th in Ohio State history.
Smith gave the Buckeyes a 14-0 first-quarter lead on what was Ohio State’s signature play. On first down from Iowa’s 16, he ran a speed option to his right, faking a handoff
to Pittman and spotting Iowa middle linebacker Abdul Hodge. Smith got Hodge pursuing to the outside and made a quick little cut back to the inside, leaving the Hawkeyes watching a TD celebration.
The Buckeyes rushed for 314 yards, their best total since the 2002 season.
“We just got beat up front, when I say the front, I mean the linebackers, too,” Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway said. “I’m not pointing any fingers at anybody. I’m just as guilty as anyone else.”
That’s a sentence no one has heard from the talkative Greenway during his two-year run as one of the Big Ten’s best linebackers.
The Hawkeyes were so not themselves Saturday it took about a minute for their patented form to take shape when they left the field. Even then there were stragglers.
When the swarm falls apart, you know they’re not themselves and that everything needs fixing.