Halftime update: Iowa 31, Ohio State 17 (Yes, that's right.)
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa leads Ohio State 31-17 at halftime in the Buckeyes' first trip to Kinnick Stadium since 2010. Here's what we've learned so far:
Who needs defense? If you wanted another smash-mouth, Big Ten slugfest, sorry. Those are hard to come by when Ohio State's on the field. But the Hawkeyes' offense has sliced through the Buckeyes' defense, too. Iowa entered halftime with 235 total yards (162 passing, 73 rushing) and 14 first downs. On the other side, Ohio State racked up 251 yards (129 passing, 122 rushing) and 13 first downs.
Heavy dose of Nate Stanley: Iowa's signal-caller ended the first half 12-for-20 for 163 yards and three touchdowns. Offensive coordinator called Brian Ferentz has called Stanley's number early and often. As he approached 10 first-quarter passes, ESPN announcer Steve Levy asked: "Are you sure we're watching Iowa here?" Stanley was especially effective during Iowa's first offensive scoring drive, leading a methodical 11-play, 80-yard drive that ate up 5 minutes and 51 seconds. He went 5-for-5 for 59 yards and the score on that drive. He's currently outplaying Heisman candidate J.T. Barrett. Speaking of Barrett ...
He's actually looked fine on all but two plays, despite the halftime score: He gave himself a rude Iowa City awakening by throwing a pick-six on Ohio State's first play. And he made another crucial mistake on Josh Jackson's interception deep in Buckeye territory late in the first half. He'd only thrown one interception through eight games this season. But it's weird: Other than those two plays, he's mostly gotten what he wants against the Hawkeyes. He entered halftime 8-for-15 for 129 yards and two touchdowns. He added 49 yards on 10 carries.
Iowa's in this bad boy for keeps: This doesn't look at all flukey so far. Just look at its third-down conversions. If any team has any shot to upend the Buckeyes, they've got to keep their offense on the field. And the Hawkeyes have done that so far, converting successfully on 3 of 5 third downs. For comparison, they went 3-for-14 in last week's 17-10 win against Minnesota.
Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.