Ohio State knew that a trip to Kinnick Stadium loomed as a trap. Nobody had any idea just how bad of a trap it could actually be.
One week ago, Ohio State came from behind to beat No. 2 Penn State thanks to a perfect fourth quarter from J.T. Barrett. Despite being No. 6 in the first playoff rankings, it looked like a frontrunner to get into the field of four. It had every goal still in front of it despite an early-season loss to Oklahoma.
Iowa shattered those dreams. The Hawkeyes didn't just break the Buckeyes' hearts. They humiliated them. On Saturday, the thought of Ohio State as a playoff team was made to seem absurd, as Iowa rolled to a stunning 55-24 blowout win over the Buckeyes.
Against Penn State, Ohio State started terribly but recovered for a brilliant comeback. At Iowa, again Ohio State started terribly, when Barrett threw a pick-six to Amani Hooker on the first play of the game:
The two teams traded scores for a while, but Iowa took control of the game late in the second quarter, and Ohio State's bad start spiraled into something far worse. Nathan Stanley threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Noah Fant. Barrett was intercepted by Joshua Jackson. And with 30 seconds left in the half, Stanley found Fant for a three-yard touchdown to give the Hawkeyes a 31-17 halftime lead.
Iowa had scored 30 points against Ohio State only three times ever in 63 meetings. This time it managed to score over 30 in one half, and it was only just getting going.
Facing fourth-and-three at the Ohio State 20 late in the third quarter, Kirk Ferentz opted against the field goal -- and his conservative reputation -- and called for a fake as Colten Rastetter, the punter, took a snap and threw an 18-yard pass to Tyler Kluver. Stanley then threw a two-yard touchdown to T.J. Hockenson the next play … with a defender wrapped around his legs:
After a quick Ohio State three-and-out, James Butler ran 53 yards to set up a one-yard touchdown on the last play of the third quarter, giving Iowa a 45-17 lead. Barrett, who entered the game with just one interception all season, threw two more interceptions on Ohio State's next two possessions, including a phenomenal one-handed leaping pick by Jackson near the goal line.
Ohio State achieved what it thought was one of the biggest wins of the season in staging that comeback against Penn State, one that required so many things to line up perfectly in the fourth quarter. For an entire game at Kinnick Stadium, Ohio State seemingly could do little right, and Iowa took full advantage.
It was no surprise that Saturday could be a trap for Ohio State. Iowa ruined Michigan's undefeated season last November, and it came within of one last stop of upsetting Penn State in September. An upset against the Buckeyes seemed possible, but what actually happened all afternoon at Kinnick Stadium seemed totally implausible, as the Hawkeyes left no doubt, outgaining Ohio State 487-371 and winning the turnover battle 4-0.
The Hawkeyes scored 20 more points than they ever had before against Ohio State. They became the first team to put up 50 against an Urban Meyer team. They scored more points on Ohio State than anybody since a 63-14 blowout loss at Penn State in 1994.
Iowa has had plenty of dramatic wins before, but it has rarely celebrated such a punishing victory over a top-10 team like it did on Saturday.