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Buckeye Monday: Iowa Review and Michigan Week

Big House BobSenior Analyst IINovember 16, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 14:  Kicker Devin Barclay #23 of the Ohio State Buckeyes is congratulated by his teammates after kicking the game-winning field goal in overtime against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Ohio Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Buckeyes Win Fifth Consecutive Big Ten Title—Headed to Rose Bowl

What an interesting year this has been. Buckeye fans have gone from calling for Jim Tressel’s head, questioning the competency of the quarterback, and planning on a bowl game in Tampa all the way back to the Big Ten title and a trip to Pasadena in January.

Iowa was without starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi, and everyone expected a comfortable win for the Buckeyes. With 10 minutes to go in the game, Ohio State was up by 14 points, and visions of Pasadena on Jan. 1 danced in my mind.

Two quick scores by Iowa replaced visions of the Rose Bowl with the possibility of having to play an SEC team in the Capital One Bowl. Not a pleasant thought for Buckeye fans.

Overtime ensued, and Devin Barclay kicked the game winner from 39 yards away, bringing out the roses in Columbus.

What worked?

The Buckeye running game is really starting to click late in the year. I can’t say that it’s because teams have to respect the passing game because that still isn’t true. I hope Dan Herron and Brandon Saine came out of the game healthy and ready to play in Ann Arbor next week. Both runners played well.

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The offensive line played well again. Like Terrelle Pryor, they have played with better intensity since the Purdue game. Fewer false start and holding penalties, better pass protection, and they are also opening up more holes for the running backs.

This is still a very young unit. I think the struggles early in the year have been corrected, and I look for big things from them on Saturday and next season.

Pryor has rebounded well since the disaster against Purdue. He hasn’t been asked to do much in the four games since that loss, but I think he’s doing a much better job of playing within the system and his abilities. He finished the day 14-of-17 for a modest 93 yards. More importantly, he didn’t force any throws and didn’t take any huge sacks.

His play isn’t flashy, but he’s winning games. I guess that’s a trade I’m comfortable with.

What didn’t work?

Chimdi Chekwa might not be the shutdown cornerback he’s been billed as all year. He was burned several times during the game, including two scores and several long passes. I wonder what coach Rich Rodriguez might dial up against him next week.

I was not very happy with the play calling during the game. I believe Pryor has earned the right to make more plays with his arm, and I think this game was a wasted opportunity for him to do that. It has to be that the coaches still don’t trust him to make all the throws. He was 12-of-12 on throws under 10 yards and 2-of-5 on anything longer. FIVE throws over 10 yards...come on.

Iowa’s last score came with over two minutes left on the clock. I was very disappointed with the conservative nature of the play calling by the Buckeyes at the end of the game. Playing for overtime was not what I wanted or expected.

The defense played a little flat. Not having to face Stanzi probably took away some of their focus and intensity. Obviously, they regained their mojo in overtime. That was a dominant series and a great way to set the table for the offense.

What’s next?

The semi-annual trip to Ann Arbor. I predicted Michigan was looking at 8-4 or 7-5 this year. I’ve been just as surprised and disappointed in their progress as Big House Bob and the rest of the UM fanbase.

I also predicted Ohio State would end up 9-3 with losses to USC, Penn State, and one other team. After the Purdue game I thought the third loss would come in State College. When that didn’t happen, I looked to Iowa. That didn’t happen either.

That leaves the Wolverines as the last team with the ability to make my prediction come true. I think I’d rather win on Saturday than be correct on a preseason prediction. I haven’t seen the line on the game, but I’m guessing it’s double digits.

I think the Ohio State defense will play more like they did against Penn State as compared to Iowa. I think we will see more creativity and surprises in the play calling on offense...after the running game has been suitably established.

Michigan hasn’t had major difficulties putting points on the board this year, and that will continue on Saturday. I think they will even score the first points of the game. I think the game will be close for the first half, but the Buckeyes will blow things open in the second half—much like last year.

I have it 35-13...Buckeyes.

Buckeye John

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