The Iowa Hawkeyes put the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes' College Football Playoff hopes in peril Saturday by pulling off a convincing 55-24 upset at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.
Hawkeyes sophomore quarterback Nathan Stanley outdueled Buckeyes signal-caller J.T. Barrett by throwing for 226 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
After putting up big numbers in OSU's 39-38 win over Penn State last week, Barrett struggled to the tune of 208 passing yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. He also had 63 rushing yards.
The loss dropped the Buckeyes to 7-2, which likely means they will have to win out to have any chance at a coveted CFP spot.
Iowa improved to 6-3, and it will have another shot to play spoiler next week when it goes on the road to take on the No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers (9-0).
The Hawkeyes dominated the Buckeyes in most facets and left no doubt they were the better team on the day. Iowa outgained Ohio State 487-371, won the turnover battle 4-0, and had five penalties for 34 yards, while OSU had nine for 95 yards.
Iowa's 55-point outburst was unexpected, considering its prior offensive struggles, as Dave Biddle of 247Sports pointed out:
Dave Biddle @davebiddle
Iowa entered play ranked No. 103 in the country in total offense.2017-11-4 23:12:43
The Hawkeye defense was just as big of a factor, though, and it put Ohio State on its heels immediately when safety Amani Hooker picked off Barrett and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown on the first offensive play of the game.
Ari Wasserman of The Athletic noted the play stood in stark contrast to Barrett's recent performances:
Ari Wasserman @AriWasserman
After throwing 22 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in his last five games. JT Barrett threw a pick six eight seconds into Iowa game.2017-11-4 19:42:35
Barrett was in the Heisman Trophy conversation, but he couldn't get out of his own way against Iowa.
Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports described how quickly Barrett's fortunes changed:
Pat Forde @YahooForde
J.T. Barrett's Heisman campaign blossomed and died in the span of a week. Three INTs today in blowout vs. Iowa.2017-11-4 22:34:55
The biggest beneficiary of Barrett's struggles was junior defensive back Josh Jackson, who finished with three interceptions for Iowa, including a highlight-reel one-hander late in the game.
Although Iowa's dominance was a surprise, the fact it won shouldn't have come as one.
According to Stewart Mandel of The Athletic, the Hawkeyes have made a habit of vanquishing highly ranked foes at home:
Stewart Mandel @slmandel
Ohio State is No. 3 in the AP poll, so Iowa is going to be 4-1 at home vs. AP Top 5 since 2008. Which is insane.2017-11-4 22:27:14
Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports noted both Iowa and Iowa State have contributed to the potential dashing of CFP hopes this season:
Tom Fornelli @TomFornelli
THERE’S ONLY ONE RULE IN CFB: If you have national title hopes don’t enter the state of Iowa. Don’t go to Ames. Don’t go to Iowa City.2017-11-4 22:29:02
Even though Iowa is always dangerous at home, the loss represented a significant letdown for Ohio State, considering how huge and emotional last week's win over Penn State was.
The Buckeyes looked listless in both of their losses this season, and Ben Axelrod of WKYC pointed out just how up-and-down the team has been in 2017:
Ben Axelrod @BenAxelrod
Strangest Ohio State team I can remember. When it's winning, it seems invincible. When it's losing, it seems hopeless.2017-11-4 22:17:37
Ohio State has an uphill climb to the CFP, but it is still in the hunt thanks to Michigan State's 27-24 upset win over Penn State on Saturday.
The Buckeyes are tied with the Spartans for first in the Big Ten East at 5-1 in the league, and they will clash next week for sole possession of first place.
Provided Ohio State wins that game and subsequent tilts with Illinois and Michigan before taking the Big Ten title game, it may be enough for a spot in the Top Four.
Iowa won't be a factor in the Big Ten title race or the CFP picture, but Saturday's triumph was a big confidence booster, and a 10-win season remains within reach if it can win out and get a bowl victory.