Kirk Ferentz made a game plan he thought would give his Iowa Hawkeyes the best chance to win against Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Control the time of possesion by depending on running back Mark Weisman and not forcing sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock to beat the Big Ten’s best team by passing the ball.
Ferentz’s game plan worked to a certain extent throughout the game – Iowa led by a touchdown going into the second half – but the Hawkeyes couldn’t sustain their high level of play in the fourth quarter and lost their second Big Ten game in a row 34-24.
The Hawkeyes are now (4-3, 1-2 in Big Ten), while Ohio State is (7-0, 3-0) and holds the nations longest winning streak at 19 games.
Ferentz has been critizied in the past because of his convservative game planning but against the Buckeyes the wasn’t the case. Meyer defeated him using essentially the same formula but with superior players.
Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde started in place of the injured Jordan Hall (knee) and rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.
Buckeye quarterback Braxton Miller shook off an early season injury to complete 22 of his 27 passes against Iowa for 222 yards and two touchdowns.
Rudock held his own in his first match-up against the Buckeyes – finishing with 245 yards and three touchdowns – but didn’t have the help around him as Miller did.
Iowa only rushed for 130 yards against the Buckeyes, while Meyer’s squad finished the afternoon with 273 yards rushing and 495 yards of offense.
Meyer is known for his exceptional recruiting skills and his ability to propel them to championship heights. Ferentz, while maximizing the play out of his three and four star recruits, isn’t known for reeling in the level of talent Meyer is. And that was the difference on Saturday.
From 2009 to 2010, Ferentz led Iowa to three straight bowl game wins with his best group of atheletes in years. Since most of those players moved on to the NFL – Adrian Clayborn, Bryan Bulaga, Riley Reiff, Micah Hyde to name a few – he hasn’t been able to replicate their success on the field.
The Hawkeyes, even though they have made noticable improvements from last season, now face a series of questions that dont come equipped with answers.
Iowa couldn’t stop Hyde or Miller from having impressive performances and still have Trevor Siemian of the now desperate Northwestern Wildcats and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon to face. How will they stop elite playmakes with a non-existent pass rush and a poor secondary?
Ferentz’s team hasn’t been able to prevent elite players from carrying their teams to wins and it’s beginning to become worrisome because Rudock looks to be on his own if Weisman, Kevonte Martin-Manley, Damon Bullock or C.J. Fiedorowicz aren’t able to contribute enough to win games.
The Hawkeyes are now in real danger of having a repeat of last season’s 4-8 debabcle. Ferentz and offensive coordinator Greg Davis need to find a way to best use the athletes they have on the roster or will risk having to answer questions about their futures in Iowa City.