Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Iowa Hawkeyes (9-1 SU, 6-3 ATS) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (8-2 SU, 8-2 ATS), 3:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, November 14, 2009, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio. TV: ABC
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Iowa +17/Ohio State -17
Over/Under: 37.5

The Big Ten title is on the line when Iowa and Ohio State face off on Saturday in Columbus. Iowa was undefeated, but is coming off its first loss of the season, a 20-13 loss to Northwestern. Ohio State is coming off its biggest win of the season, a 24-7 road win at Penn State.

In the loss to Northwestern, Iowa lost its quarterback, Ricky Stanzi, to an ankle injury in the second quarter. Stanzi will not play against Ohio State. Instead, it will be James Vandenberg under center. Vandenberg filled in for Stanzi against Northwestern and was not very good. He was 9-for-27 for 82 yards and an interception. But with a full week to prepare for this game, Vandenberg should certainly be better than he was last week. He will have to be if Iowa is going to win this game. Iowa jumped out to a 10-0 lead on Northwestern, but once Stanzi left the game the Hawkeyes had no offense and Northwestern scored 17 unanswered points to win the game.

Before the Northwestern loss and after the big win over Penn State earlier this season, Iowa was lucky to get the five wins in between. Three of the five wins were by three points or less, and the last four of them were fourth quarter comebacks. At Michigan State, Stanzi had to throw a touchdown pass in the final seconds on fourth-and-goal. Against Indiana, the Hawkeyes were down 10 going in to the fourth quarter but they scored 28 unanswered points in the final quarter for a comfortable victory.

Iowa’s run game, which used to rest on the shoulders of Adam Robinson, but now Brandon Wegner due to injury, can run the ball well. The two running backs have combined for 1,131 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. But the Hawkeyes win games on defense, not on offense. Vandenberg needs to make sure he doesn’t make any mistakes and turn the ball over, especially against such a good Ohio State defense. If Wegner can run the ball well and give the Hawkeyes an opportunity to score some points, it will make it easier for Vandenberg in his first career start and Iowa should be able to stay in the game.

Both of these teams rank in top 16 in the country in pass defense. Ohio State is allowing 168.7 passing yards per game. The Buckeyes have given up seven passing touchdowns and have 16 interceptions. Iowa has given up 173 passing yards per game and nine passing touchdowns. But the Hawkeyes lead the nation with 20 interceptions.

Ohio State is third in the country in run defense with 85.4 rushing yards allowed per game and a 2.7 yards-per-carry average. Iowa is giving up 118.7 rushing yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry.

Ohio State’s offense has been inconsistent this season. Sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor was 8-for-17 for 125 yards and two touchdowns against Penn State. He has 1,668 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions for the season. He also leads the team in rushing with 604 yards and seven touchdowns. The key for the Iowa defense will definitely be to stop Pryor. Brandon Saine, Daniel Herron and Jordan Hall all get carries for the Buckeyes. The three of them have combined for 1,120 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Both of these teams are going to try to run the ball and control the clock. Because of Pryor’s ability to run at quarterback and OSU having the better run defense, the Buckeyes have the advantage in the rushing department. At quarterback, it’s unknown what Vandenberg will do but it’s always unknown what Pryor will do. The game could come down to which quarterback makes less mistakes.

Iowa is 4-0 ATS and 4-0 SU on the road this season. The Hawkeyes are 2-0 ATS this season as underdogs. Ohio State is 8-1 ATS in its last nine games and 5-0 ATS in its last five home games. The total has gone under in six of OSU’s last nine games.

Ryno’s Pick: With OSU being at home, the Buckeyes definitely deserve to be the favorites but a line of -17 seems a bit extreme. If Iowa hadn’t lost last week to Northwestern, and even with Stanzi not playing, would an undefeated Iowa team be a 17-point underdog? Stanzi going down was unlucky and Northwestern gutted out a close victory with an unprepared quarterback under center for the Hawkeyes. Now, they will be prepared and their BCS hopes are on the line. Iowa easily could win this game. Maybe, OSU wins the game, but Iowa’s defense is too good to lose by more than two touchdowns. Take Iowa +17.