The Iowa Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) have had time, coming off their bye-week, to correct the problems that have plagued them throughout the 2013 campaign. The issue though,is how will they fare against the superior Ohio State (6-0, 2-0).
The Buckeyes have not lost a game in a year and a half – going 18-0 – since head coach Urban Meyer decided to come out of his brief retirement in 2012. The Hawkeyes on the other hand are 8-10 and didn’t handle the first year of head coach Kirk Ferentz’s coaching staff shake-up very well.
What Meyer has been able to do with his offense and his team as a whole -which is built around players he did not recruit – since taking over has been impressive.
Meyer has put an emphasis on the running game – which averages 280 yards per game and is ranked 10th in the nation – since returning to his alma mater and is a big reason why his offense averages an outstanding 46 points per game.
Much of Ohio State’s success on the ground this season has come from senior running backs Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde. Hall has eight touchdowns this season and is averaging over six yards per carry but is questionable for Saturday’s game with a knee injury.
Iowa’s defense will be a major concern on Saturday because they have yet to show they can stop an offense as talented as Ohio State – two weeks ago they allowed Michigan State to gain over 400 yards of offense in its 26-14 loss.
The Hawkeyes aren’t built to average 40 points a game but they are supposed to be able to beat opponents by controlling the time of possession, which is highly dependent on their ability to rush the ball.
Iowa has been relatively healthy this year and has taken advantage of having a work-horse running back in junior Mark Weisman.
Weisman has rushed for 624 yards on 126 carries thus far, which ranks 18th and 8th in the nation respectively. He has helped the Hawkeyes offense tremendously with his ability to move the chains and also convert short-yardage situations.
The problem however, is that when sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock is unable to create enough offense through the air and Iowa is forced to solely rely on Weisman to rush the ball.
Against the Buckeyes that formula will not work because of the athletes Meyer has on defense.
Iowa’s conference schedule the rest of the way is difficult and even though they’ll face Purdue (1-5, 0-2) on Nov. 9th, its tough to say that they’ll improve from their 4-8 record last year.
The Hawkeyes started its uphill battle within the Big Ten last week against the Spartans but will undoubtedly face their toughest challenge of the season on Saturday inside the Horseshoe.