What we learned: Iowa football pulls off another Kinnick stunner, dominates No. 3 Ohio State 55-24
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Something happened in Kinnick Stadium, something that doesn't happen very often with Urban Meyer and his Buckeyes: Ohio State was clearly, convincingly and unquestionably the second best team in the football stadium.
Iowa used a dominant second half to handle No. 3 Ohio State 55-24 on Saturday and ruin the Buckeyes' College Football Playoffs chances.
"Everybody in our locker room believed (we could win) so that's the main thing," said Josh Jackson, who tied a school record with three interceptions in the blowout. "We came out and wanted to execute. We came out and played with confidence."
Yeah, they did. This is the most points Iowa has ever scored against the Buckeyes and it's the first time Iowa has beaten them since 2004. It's also the most points Meyer has ever given up as a head coach, and it's just his second road loss with the Buckeyes.
Ohio State had won 12 of the past 13 meetings against Iowa.
Here's what we learned from arguably the most important result from this day in the world of college football.
Iowa became the aggressor when Ohio State normally puts its foot down: It certainly didn't feel like an Iowa blowout was coming when the first quarter ended 10-10. A win? Perhaps, but not a blowout win for Iowa, because Ohio State entered this game having outscored its opponents, 128-38, in second quarters. All Iowa needed to do was hang tough, endure the storm and get ready for a thrilling second half.
Instead? Iowa controlled nearly every facet of the second quarter, outscoring the Buckeyes 21-7, and outgaining them 141-87 to take a 31-17 lead into halftime.
Then ... more of the same in the third quarter. Iowa outscored the Buckeyes 7-0, outgained them 173-23 and out-possessed them 10:43 to 4:17. Suddenly, after two quarters of football, a 10-10 game ballooned to an Ohio State shellacking at the hands of the Hawkeyes.
Nate Stanley just keeps doing his thing. Same with his tight ends: Nate Stanley continues to prove Iowa has a bright future (and present) behind center. The sophomore quarterback outplayed Heisman hopeful J.T. Barrett from whistle to whistle. He finished 20-for-31 for 226 yards and five touchdowns, while Barrett finished 18-for-34 for 208 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.
Stanley is one of two quarterbacks in program history to throw five touchdowns in a single game twice; Chuck Long threw six twice. He's up to 22 touchdowns now, becoming the first Iowa quarterback with at least 20 touchdown passes in a season since James Vandenberg threw 25 in 2011.
Iowa's true sophomore was quick to credit his offensive line.
"As the year's gone on, I've definitely felt a little more comfortable in the pocket and had more trust in the offensive line," Stanley said. "The last couple weeks they've had great practices and played real well."
Stanley's tight end connection was, once again, on point too. He connected with Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson for four of his five scores (two each), and racked up 125 yards with those two targets.
Also ... can we talk more about this offense? Because it deserves to be discussed. After back-to-back weeks of underwhelming and, at times, frustrating production, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz's unit outclassed Ohio State. The Hawkeyes racked up 487 yards (7 yards per play) and 24 first downs. There was no stale play-calling. Rather, Ferentz mixed up schemes, rolled Stanley out of the pocket, gave his quarterback easy reads, got running back Akrum Wadley in space and got his tight ends heavily involved. He called to Iowa's strengths time in and time out, and you saw the result.
"We wanted to be balanced all game, and we came out and did that pretty well," Stanley said.
Iowa DBs weren't daunted by Barrett: In fact, Iowa's secondary made life miserable for the Buckeyes' Heisman hopeful. It intercepted Barrett four times (he'd thrown just one through eight games), including two in the fourth quarter.
Safety Amani Hooker opened the floodgates on Ohio State's first play of the game, logging a 30-yard pick-six to give Iowa a 7-0 lead with 14:52 on the clock.
Projected NFL first-rounder Josh Jackson snagged the final three picks, cementing his status as one of the country's premier defensive backs.
"He's a really good quarterback," Jackson said of Barrett. "We looked over the film. We just noticed a lot of information. ... You just want to play your keys and, if you see something, just make a play."
Iowa needed the quintessential "big plays" for the upset win, and it got every single one: Those four interceptions were key.
So was Stanley's third-quarter touchdown to Hockenson, which he threw with an Ohio State defender literally smothering his leg.
So, too, was Iowa's successful fake punt that set up that touchdown. On a fourth-and-3 at Ohio State's 20, Colton Rastetter completed an 18-yard pass to long snapper Tyler Kluver, who'd slipped beyond the Buckeyes' front for a wide-open, first-down gain.
Every little thing Iowa needed to happen, every big thing Iowa needed to happen — it all transpired. And the result was one of the most impressive wins in the Kirk Ferentz era.
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_.