Debating the Big Ten Title: Ohio State and Iowa Collide...Blogger Style

Kristofer GreenSenior Writer INovember 13, 2009

With the Big Ten game of the year right around the corner, two die hard fans got together to debate the merits of their two teams.

Bret Feddern, a self-admitted Hawkeye Nerd on and Bleacher Report Iowa Featured Columnist , will argue for the Hawkeyes. Following Bret's tweets during an Iowa game is fun...give it a shot.

I will be arguing for the Buckeyes (as if they need the help).

The Hawkeyes and Buckeyes take the field on Saturday and the winner will be off to the Rose Bowl.

We can't match that drama here, but we'll give it a shot.

Kristofer Green: The biggest storyline heading into this week's de facto Big Ten Championship game is the absence of QB Ricky Stanzi and how the Hawkeyes' chances against the Buckeyes will rest on the shoulders of freshman QB James Vandenberg.

First, who is Vandenberg?

Bret Feddern:
I am a die hard Hawkeye, and I will be the first to admit...I have no clue. Vandenberg set all kinds of high school football records in Iowa, and definitely has an arm, but due to all of Iowa's close games this year, JVB hasn't had a chance to demo his skills so no one really knows what he is capable of. 

With as inconsistent as Stanzi was at times, most Hawkeye fans still never wavered in their faith in him and never really gave much thought to him not being QB.  His injury was definitely a shock, and I am sure I wasn't the only one scrambling for recruiting highlights. 

Is JVB USC's Matt Barkley?  No.  But he definitely isn't as bad as he looked in the NW game.  No excuses on the loss, but that is a tough situation for a freshman to get thrown into and do well.    
KG: Yeah, it was a tough position for sure. With a week of practice as the starter he should definitely be more prepared. But, coming into Ohio Stadium in a game of this magnitude will be an even stiffer test for Vandenberg. And I won't go to the old (and already tired) comparison to James Van Der Beek in Varsity Blues.
BF:   I think we can both agree...the Varsity Blues analogies can stop anytime time now.

A lot of the Buckeye faithful on the blogs and the comments say this will be a blow out. Even though you are a die hard Buckeye fan, I have known your Big Ten writing to be fairly objective.

Do you think OSU will blowout Iowa like many of the the comments suggest?

KG: I, too, have noticed that a lot of Buckeye fans are now suddenly very confident about the team. These are the same fans that were calling for Jim Tressel's head and screaming for Joe Bauserman to start in place of Terrelle Pryor after the Purdue debacle.

My answer to your question is a resounding NO. I remember the OSU offense that turned the ball over five times against Purdue and the offense that sputtered to 10 offensive points against Wisconsin.

A couple of good games against Minnesota and New Mexico State and a blowout of Penn State don't change the fact that this offense could again stall.

The strength of this Iowa team has been its defense. The offense made the headlines because of their ability to make the big play and comeback so many times under Stanzi, but it has been the defense that has been spectacular for most of the season.

The best two defenses in the conference will be on the field for this game, so I can't see either team getting a blowout.

How will Ferentz approach this game offensively? Establishing the run against the Buckeyes has been a problem for most teams this season.

BF: The better question will Ken O'Keefe call the game offensively?  Ferentz is the man with the master plan, but O'Keefe runs the offense and usually the play calling.  And conservative is his usual routine. 
KG: That sounds familiar...

BF: O'Keefe is going to have to figure a way to get the pass play worked in or otherwise Iowa is dead in the water.  The Buckeyes will prevent Iowa from much of a ground game, so getting some passes worked in is key.  Luckily we have a lot of good people to throw to.

KG: Point taken there. Marvin McNutt, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, and Tony Moeaki are all dangerous weapons.
BF: I honestly look for a lot of play action and a lot of short passes to our tight ends.  O'Keefe's normal style won't change with Vanderberg in the game, but he will likely add in more short/quick passing routes.

KG: Against an aggressive Ohio State front seven that is very logical. Even so, the offensive line will be put on notice.

BF: The Hawkeyes' offensive line is going to have to step it up, regardless of the play calling.  They have yet to play to their potential, and they need to go give Vandenberg a little time to throw and they need to open holes for Brandon Wegher. 

Same question back to you...How will Tressel approach this game offensively? Despite the last few games, the OSU offense has been a tad suspect and Iowa's front seven might be the best the Buckeyes have seen this year. 

KG: Should we really expect anything less than Tressel-ball? The perfect game for Tressel would be to run the ball, control the clock and field position, and use defense to set up the offense.

I think part of that equation is entirely possible. Ohio State's defense has shown the ability to cause problems for a variety of offenses.

But in order for Tressel-ball to work, Terrelle Pryor cannot turn the ball over and the running game has got to be a factor.

Speaking of Pryor, what do you make of the sentiment that the Hawkeye defense may struggle (at least in the beginning) because they have yet to face Pryor?

BF:  Honestly, I don’t think that will be an issue this week. There have been a few games where Iowa has come out looking asleep on their feet on the first drive, only to put on a brilliant performance late in the game. I think this week they will be consistent, because they know they have to be. Pryor is good. I am not one of those that will try to claim he isn’t, because it is obvious he has some talent. Norm Parker will have them ready.

The Hawkeyes secondary is one of the best in the country, and if Pryor tries to throw it could cause problems. It is Pryor’s scrambling that is of some concern, though. Iowa’s defensive line knows the weight is on their shoulders. 

KG: Many players and coaches have admitted that they underestimated Pryor's strength and especially his speed. I was more referring to the fact that because the Hawkeye defense had only seen Pryor on film.

I wondered if Tressel tested the boundaries with some runs by Pryor early, maybe the defense would miss on some angles or tackles until they adjust to Pryor in 3D. Probably wishful thinking...

BF:  Iowa players aren’t known for underestimating. You are right, they will see early how strong he is, though. Out of curiosity, who on the Iowa defense worries you the most?

KG : The whole unit is quite worrisome to be perfectly honest.

Adrian Clayborn is a beast and would be scary even if he didn't share the line with Broderick Binns and Karl Klug. Pat Angerer is crazy, Jeremiah Hunter can kill you, Amari Spievey will burn you, and Tyler Sash will rip your heart out, juggle it, then return it for a touchdown!

That interception Sash had against Indiana on the goal line was one of the crazy plays I have ever seen. That is the kind of play that football coaches, players, and fans all collectively have nightmares about.

These guys are for real and I have o doubt they will be out for blood. My biggest concern would be that the Ohio State line (which has been suspect at times this season) does not protect Pryor, the Pryor gets happy feet and starts lofting ball in the air for Sash to prance back to the end zone.

The line play is going to be crucial in this game...for both teams. Whoever can control the line of scrimmage more will probably win.

Any worries about the Ohio State Silver Bullets? (I must call them that at least 10 times a day, although it reminds me of Coors Light ...)

BF: I think the entire OSU defense worries me, but Cameron Heyward and Brian Rolle definitely give reasons to worry that we might have to replace another QB this weekend (knock on wood that doesn’t actually happen, although McNutt in a Wildcat offense might be fun to watch).

KG: I sort of picture a nice tug of war at the line of scrimmage for most of the game. Heyward, Doug Worthington, Thad Gibson, and the rest of the Buckeye rotation (Rob Rose and Lawrence Wilson especially) will have to have a big game. A pressured quarterback is a useless quarterback. (Both of our squads proved that with Darryl Clark.)

BF: Even though I can’t confirm it, I have been hearing Adam Robinson will be playing on Saturday from a few sources. Despite having been out for the past two games now, Robinson is still fourth in the Big Ten in rushing. If ARob is back, does that change the game plan for OSU?

KG: I don't think so. It may make it harder to execute, but the Buckeyes are always going to try and shut down the run game. It doesn't matter who is carrying the ball.

It would be a welcome surprise for Hawkeye fans, I'm sure. Even better if he was truly at 100 percent. That will be an interesting development to follow the next few days.

So, bottom line...How do you think the game will play out on Saturday?

BF:  I think it will be ALL defense, but that’s why I like Big Ten football so I won’t complain. As crazy as it sounds, the team with the best punter will win this game.

KG: Care to give a prediction?

BF: I need to have faith in my Hawkeyes. 17-14, Iowa, and only because the defense scores for them. I cross my fingers for a DJK kickoff return for a touchdown, too.

KG: I think the game is close through three quarters, but the OSU defense will get a timely turnover or Ray Small will get a big return and the Buckeye's will take control in the fourth, prevailing with a 27-17 victory.

BF:  If Iowa turns the ball over more than once, I think your prediction could be very accurate. Ohio State isn’t Indiana, so Iowa can’t give the Buckeyes the ball in good field position like they did in that game.

KG: Thanks Bret! It's been fun. May the best defense win!

BF: Thanks KG. It was fun...let’s do it again next year, when Iowa and Ohio State are playing for the Big Ten Championship in Kinnick.

This article is featured on First and Big Ten , a web site dedicated to everything Big Ten football. Follow me on twitter @kristofergreen .


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