No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1, 8-2 ATS) at No. 21 Iowa Hawkeyes (7-3,
5-5 ATS), Week 12 College Football, Saturday November 20th, 3:30PM Eastern
Kinnick Stadium Iowa City, I.A.
By Jay Horne, Professional Sports Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: OSU -4/University of Iowa +4
Over/Under Total: OFF
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Big Ten rivals collide this weekend inside Kinnick Stadium highlighting a battle top 25 opponents when the no. 21 Iowa Hawkeyes host the no. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes. The hosting Hawkeyes suffered an upset loss to Northwestern last week on the road 21-17. The Hawkeyes have been solid throughout the season so they will desperately try to avoid falling two straight when the Buckeyes roll into town this Saturday. Last year these two teams tangled in a huge battled that had Big Ten Championship indications on the line. The Buckeyes pulled out a 27-24 victory in overtime and went on to claim a share of their 5th straight Big Ten Title. The Hawkeyes may not be in position for a Big Ten Championship this season, but they could definitely deliver revenge to the Buckeyes by destroying their chances at another Big Ten Title this Saturday.
The Buckeyes will roll into Iowa City fresh after knocking off rival Penn State 38-14 last weekend. Ohio State actually trailed 14-3 at the half, before rallying to score 35 unanswered points in the 2nd half to cruise to their 9th victory of the season. The Buckeyes have been playing well in recent weeks on both sides of the football. Since their loss to Wisconsin, Ohio State has outscored their last 3 opponents by a combined 139-24. The Buckeyes defense has held opponents to just 210 yards per game during that stretch and that has been the story all season with the Ohio State defense.
The Buckeyes defense has been sensational holding opponents to 238 yards on the season which gives them the 2nd ranked defense in the country. Not only do they shut down offenses, but they also help lead the nation in turnover margin by capturing 17 interceptions on the season. The defense has consistently been able to put the offense on the short side of the field which has been a nightmare for opposing defenses considering how well the Ohio State offense can move the football to begin with.
The Ohio State offense is led by QB Terrelle Pryor who is dangerous with both arm and feet. Pryor has completed 67% passing for 2,136 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 8 picks on the year. Of course Pryor is also a gifted runner that has scrambled for 512 yards on the season as well. Pryor was actually a bit more of a runner earlier in his career, but has grown into a down field threat with his arm this season. Instead of tucking the ball away and running, Pryor has been able to buy time with his legs and then use his arm to make throws down field. Pryor simply keeps the play alive and to stop him you have to get a hand on him quickly. If not wide receivers Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey have proven that they can find holes in defenses if give the opportunity. Both star wide outs are averaging over 15 yards per reception and have combined for 14 touchdowns on the season. Therefore, I really think the difference in this game will be in how the Hawkeyes are able to get to Pryor quickly and preventing those big plays down field to open up.
The Buckeyes offense also likes to run the football behind Dan Herron. The junior tailback has had a lot of success on the ground this season rushing for 824 yards with 13 touchdowns so far this season. However, the Hawkeyes have been outstanding against the run. Iowa owns the 4th best rush defense in America holding opponents to just 86 yards per game. Therefore, I’m not convinced that Ohio State will beat the Hawkeyes by the pounding the ball on the ground, but will have to make some plays in the passing game against an Iowa secondary that has been suspect to giving up plays through the air.
On the other side of the field, the Hawkeyes offense has the playmakers to test that tenacious Ohio State defense. Tailback Adam Robinson has been the work horse for the team carrying the ball nearly 200 times resulting in 914 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Iowa offense relies in favor of the ground attack, but that is simply to set the tone of the game. Senior QB Ricky Stanzi has been outstanding this season completing 66% passing for 2,482 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only 4 picks on the season.
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Stanzi has defined leadership behind center and effectively got the ball in the hands of his playmakers at the receiver positions when his number has been call. Those receivers have been Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt. Both wide outs have nearly identical numbers with Johnson-Koulianos having 41 catches for 673 yards and McNutt has 41 catches for 660 yards. The two wide outs have combined for 15 touchdowns and Stanzi will need to get the ball in their hands often this Saturday to make some things happen for the offense.
Jay’s pick to cover the point spread: Would not be surprised to see Iowa play a real tough football game here and may even sneak out the victory. However, I do not believe a play on the side is warranted because it’s not very safe. Instead, I expect the defenses to really shine in this game considering each offense plays right into the hands of the opposing defenses strength in terms of matching up. Therefore I’m taking the under on this one and expecting an extremely low scoring game.