It ended up being an epic game in the Horsehoe. Not many people gave Iowa a chance, but someone forgot to inform the Hawkeyes. Despite their valiant effort, the black and gold fell just a little short against Ohio State.
For Ohio State, the result is a trip to the Rose Bowl and a fifth straight Big 10 Title. Here are five things we learned after this classic:
5. Iowa was, and still is, for real:
Iowa had many narrow escapes this year. Because of their many close games and heart pounding moments, many pundits were quick to jump on the Hawkeyes after they finally fell to Northwestern last week.
The reality is that Iowa is a good football team, folks. This team came in with a back up freshman quarterback, third string running back, and more bumps and bruises than most everyone else in the Big Ten.
Despite it all, they played toe to toe, and moved the ball better than anyone has against Ohio State this year. I know Iowa fans feel a bit down after this game, but there is plenty to applaud.
4. Iowa has a star in the making with Vandenberg:
It would be hard to think that Stanzi could have played much better. Vandenberg did have three interceptions, but he also came up with big play after big play down the field.
He did it against a team that does not give up very many big plays at all. He was composed, in control, and accurate.
After Stanzi moves on, I don't think Hawkeye fans have to look far to find his replacement, and I'll bet that that replacement turns out to be an even better quarterback than the current one.
3. Tressel will never loosen up on his close-to-the-sweater-vest mentality:
Time after time, Ohio State had opportunities to close this thing out. Time after time, Mr. Tressel decided to run some clock rather than going for the jugular.
It can be frustrating at times, but it is hard to argue with the outcome. Tressel continues to clinch Big Ten Championships and BCS bowl births. I just wish he could pull some strings to not give everyone a coronary.
As an interesting plot in the game, I turned to my wife and asked the question: Which is more conservative, having a back up, unproven kicker try to kick a game winner, or opening it up a bit to make it easier on him?
Apparently, the answer is having a walk on, former soccer player nail a field goal of distance through the uprights. Tressel had to be conflicted on this one.
2. Ohio State has its mojo back:
Don't lie: How many of you thought that Ohio State would be in this position after the loss to Purdue? I can admit that I thought things looked a bit in despair.
Since the Purdue game, the Ohio State defense has played with a chip on its shoulder. Since the Purdue game, Terrelle Pryor has grown up significantly with his decison making and clutch play.
I would argue that the defense took a step back this game, but you can't continue to play at the high level they have game after game. Luckily, the offense did enough to get the win today. Against Purdue, that wasn't the case.
The big question: Can Ohio State keep it going against Michigan, and into the Rose Bowl? Time will easily tell.
1. Terrelle Pryor is starting to get it:
Looking back on the game, you almost feel as if Terrelle Pryor blended into the game. That is good news for Ohio State fans.
If Pryor makes the right decisions, with a clutch play here or there, this is exactly how most of the games should go. Bonus stat: Pryor has not made a turnover in three straight games now. Hallelujah!
There are going to be games in which Pryor will have to snatch away defeat. This was not one of them. Still, he made enough clutch plays when they were needed, and made all of the right calls.
Things look bright for the future under Pryor.
Congratulations to both Iowa and Ohio State for a great game. Do not take anything away from Iowa. They came in on a mission and delivered more than anyone outside of the team thought they would.
Iowa still has a chance at a co-Big Ten Championship if Ohio State stumbles next week at Michigan, while Ohio State has punched their ticket to at least a share of the Big Ten title, and is now destined to visit Southern California.
It's time to book travel plans to Pasedena Buckeye Fans.
Just to remind everyone however, there still remains the game against Michigan next week. I cannot remember when next week's game was more of an afterthought. Something tells me that it won't be come Sunday morning.