IOWA CITY, Iowa — Almost nothing went right for No. 6 Ohio State in its crushing defeat to Iowa 55-24. The Buckeyes were outgained 487-371 and were seemingly in the game for only the first half. Here are some important statistics to take away from Ohio State’s loss.
226 – Passing yards by Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley. Ohio State’s secondary was picked apart Saturday night as it allowed 226 passing yards and broke up only three passes. Receivers were able to find separation from defenders and find room in the middle of the field on seam routes down the field.
Ohio State’s secondary and linebackers had no defense against the two leading tight ends for the Hawkeyes — Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson — who finished with a combined nine receptions for 125 yards and four of the five receiving touchdowns. Eight receivers finished with at least one reception in the game, providing Stanley with a wide array of targets. The secondary had been exposed before, but only once had it truly cost the team. This loss marks the second time Ohio State has been beaten through the air.
1 – Sacks on Stanley. Part of the reason Stanley was able to pass so efficiently was that he received little pressure all game from Ohio State’s front seven. The defensive line and linebackers only sacked Stanley once and had only three quarterback hits.
The secondary will be the primary recipient of the blame levied on Ohio State for its inability to defend against the pass, but this is the same secondary that had surrendered 420 and 386 passing yards to Indiana and Oklahoma, respectively, earlier in the season. The reason the secondary’s struggles were mitigated was a defensive line that had been largely the product of a defensive line that pressured opposing quarterbacks and kept them uneasy in the pocket, forcing quick, inaccurate passes. That was not the case Saturday as Stanley stood comfortably in the pocket all game and escaped the pocket with relative ease to free receivers down the field.
4 – Interceptions by Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett. While Stanley had the best game of his career, Ohio State’s quarterback had one of his worst. Barrett was as inaccurate as he has been all season. He completed a season-low 52.9 percent of his passes (18-of-34) and set a new career-high with his fourth interception of the game. The first interception of the game was returned for a touchdown, and set the tone for the rest of the matchup.
Barrett has no one but himself to blame for his inaccuracy. He was often given all the time in the world needed to get the pass off, but often would underthrow his receiver or attempt a pass into double-coverage like he did on his second interception. Though the play calls became progressively more conservative as the game went on with Barrett attempting fewer risky passes that he had in the beginning, part of that could easily be chalked up to the lack of trust the coaching staff had in him after he appeared reckless to begin the game.
20.2 – Average starting field position by Ohio State on kickoffs. When kickoffs are mentioned as part of a problem for Ohio State, they have often been cited on the flip-side, with Ohio State being the team unable to properly defend against kicks. Saturday, the issue was with the return group by the Buckeyes, as redshirt sophomore Mike Weber was unable to provide the same spark the speedy redshirt junior H-back Parris Campbell gave the Buckeyes. Campbell averaged 36.6 yards per kick return when in the role, while Weber was only able to average 17 yards per return.
In a game that wound up being so high-scoring, the kick return team was used heavily, and the inability of Weber to find the gaps and give the Buckeyes explosive kick returns held Ohio State back in its starting field position. Though the field position did not have near as much of an impact in the final outcome of Ohio State’s loss to Iowa, the drop-off from Campbell to Weber was certainly noticeable, and did not contribute in any way to the success Ohio State did have Saturday.
6 – Carries by Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins. Seemingly limited in action once again, Dobbins was held to just six carries for 51 yards. He had just five carries in the first half and one on Ohio State’s first offensive play of the second half and did not see the ball again. He did, however, lead the team with five receptions that he took for 25 yards.
Part of that might have been the result of the Buckeyes being forced to play catch-up, but this has been more of a recent trend than anything else. During the first week of the season, Dobbins carried the ball 29 times for 181 rushing yards. Over the past three games, Dobbins has had just 31 carries despite totalling 245 yards (7.9 yards per carry). Ohio State has seemingly shied away from using its star freshman running back as of late despite his continued production.