It looked like Iowa was going to pull off the upset over No. 4 Ohio State. Then Braxton Miller happened.
By Ben Ross
COLUMBUS — Even though Iowa didn’t come away with a win over No. 4 ranked Ohio State, it was still able to something most thought was unthinkable: stick with the Buckeyes for four quarters.
Iowa came out in what tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz calls the ‘13’ formation, with one receiver, three tight ends, and one running back. This formation allowed Iowa to eat five minutes of clock and drive for 85 yards. Fiedorowicz was the recipient of a 2-yard touchdown pass from Rudock that gave the Hawkeyes an early 7-0 lead.
“I almost messed up the whole play, but I happened to squeak behind the defensive back that came up on the fullback. Jake threw a great ball, and that was that,” Fiedorowicz said.
Ohio State stormed back in its first drive of the game, but sputtered as it approached the end zone. The Buckeyes settled for a field goal. Iowa kicked one of its own to give the squad a 10-3 lead, but then the Hawkeyes started to look the Hawkeyes.
Iowa gave up a 58-yard touchdown pass from Braxton Miller to Philly Brown to knot the score at 10’s. The nearest Iowa jersey to Brown was over 10 yards away.
Iowa went on to score a 6-yard touchdown to Kevonte Martin-Manley, to lead 17-10 at half. That would be the last time Iowa would see a lead in the game.
The Hawkeyes surrendered its first rushing touchdown of the season to Carlos Hyde in the beginning of the second half, and the Buckeyes never looked back.
Whenever it seemed like Iowa had Ohio State on the ropes, Miller turned into the magician everyone thought he was at the beginning of the season, running circles around Hawkeye defenders and extending plays to what felt like eternity. Miller ended the day 22-27 passing for 222 yards and two scores, as well as 102 yards on the ground off of 18 carries.
“I just read the coverage,” Miller said after the game. “If the first read ain’t there, it’s easy enough for me to get the first down on my feet.”
It did appear as though Iowa did have some fight left after it scored an 85-yard touchdown pass to Jake Duzey on the very first play following a Buckeye touchdown. The catch was the second longest to go for a score in Iowa tight end history, and tied the score at 24-24 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
“It was pretty sweet. I just kept running,” Duzey said of the play.
Then Ohio State pulled away. Braxton Miller did his thing, and Carlos Hyde scored another touchdown on the ground. The Buckeyes kicked a field goal with five minutes left to go up by 10 and cement the win.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said his team didn’t play well enough to get the win, and also said that no prizes are given to teams that play one half of football well. He didn’t allude at all to his team improving when asked, but still, it’s clear this Iowa team is getting better.
Similar to their coach Iowa players weren’t so quick to fall back on them improving their play as a ‘token effort,’ throughout the season, either.
“It definitely feels like we’re improving, but we’re in the business of winning games, and that’s what we want to do,” Iowa linebacker and captain James Morris said. “That’s how you measure success, at least in our league. I’m always focused on improvement, but I’m not going to come here and say; ‘hey I feel great, I feel like we improved, this is what we wanted to do.’ that’s not the case.
“We came here to win and we didn’t do that so we don’t feel good. Did we improve? Maybe we did but that’s something we’re working at every day, so it’s almost an expectation at this point, is to improve. Now we want to win games.”