Leistikow's First Word: Hawkeyes deliver stunning knockout of Ohio State
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Something you can almost always count on from a Kirk Ferentz-coached Iowa football team: It will bring the fight.
No doubt it did Saturday.
From the first snap of the game, a stunning pick-six of J.T. Barrett, the three-touchdown-underdog Hawkeyes came out swinging. And they kept throwing haymakers until they had not only beaten third-ranked Ohio State, but knocked them out.
Hawkeyes 55, third-ranked Buckeyes 24.
Iowa not only shell-shocked Urban Meyer — who came into Kinnick Stadium with a 26-1 road record in six years as Ohio State’s coach — it shocked the College Football Playoff.
Bye bye, Buckeyes.
Hello, Hawkeyes offense. Where were you hiding?
Iowa rolled up nearly 500 yards. FIVE. HUNDRED. YARDS. This is a team that couldn't gain a yard per carry a month earlier at Michigan State.
Saturday, it was a team that scored more points against a Meyer-coached team than any team has before.
Quarterback Nate Stanley threw five touchdown passes — four to tight ends, one to a fullback. (How Iowa.)
Even Iowa hater Colin Cowherd got into the fun. The commentator who has called Iowa the "Fake I.D. of College Football" tweeted: "Iowa turned 21 today."
Defensively, Iowa slowed down the nation's No. 2 offense.
Joshua Jackson began the week with NFL Draft hype. The junior cornerback backed it up with a glitzy three-interception performance, including a one-handed grab in the fourth quarter that you’ll see again and again on the highlight shows.
It was a complete Iowa performance, the first time all season the offense, defense and special teams played well on the same Saturday.
Boy, did it play well.
Earlier this week, I wrote a column itemizing the four “musts” for Iowa to pull off the upset as a three-touchdown underdog.
If you missed it, let’s revisit them — and see how the Hawkeyes did.
Score on defense: That took all of 8 seconds to accomplish, with safety Amani Hooker darting in to pick off Barrett’s first pass of the day, and he took it 30 yards for a touchdown. Game on.
No self-inflicted mistakes: Iowa didn’t have any turnovers or drop any passes, two things that have plagued the offense all season. The one false-start penalty it committed in the first half was overcome with a touchdown.
Aggressive play calling: Give Brian Ferentz a game ball. The offensive coordinator had a rough week, but found a way to move the football, time and time again, vs. the nation’s 12th-ranked defense.
Don’t stop believing: A “Blackout” crowd of 67,669 was patterned with plenty of red-clad Buckeye fans ready to party in Iowa City on the road to the playoffs. But from the moment Hooker dove into the North end zone for seven points, the fans wearing black were into it.
So, too, were the guys in alternate black jerseys.
The Hawkeyes are now bowl-eligible, at 6-3 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten Conference.
After Saturday's performance, nobody will count them out of next week's showdown in Madison, where another giant awaits: 9-0 Wisconsin.
Heck, maybe the Hawkeyes can ruin another team's playoff hopes, too.
After what happened here Saturday, anything goes.
Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has covered sports for 23 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.