After beating two nationally ranked opponents in front of primetime audiences and enjoying a week off from action, many would understand if the third-ranked Ohio State football team (6-0) overlooked Iowa (4-2) this weekend.
Not Urban Meyer.
In fact, the Buckeyes’ head coach sees one of the toughest tests of the regular season coming to Ohio Stadium this season in the Hawkeyes. Iowa ranks ninth nationally in total defense, allowing 290 yards per game, while allowing an average of 16.8 points per game from its opponents.
With a defensive line that he compared to No. 1 Alabama’s, Meyer said that the Buckeyes will have their hands full on the offensive side of the ball against Iowa this Saturday.
“It’s one of the best defenses. They’re in the top ten in America,” Meyer pointed out. “The kids know that. We’re working really hard. They’re really sound. I coached against them in Outback Bowl several years ago.”
The Iowa defense has been so impressive, in fact, that the Hawkeyes are yet to allow a rushing touchdown all season, a statistic that Meyer and the Buckeyes hope to change in the coming days.
“They haven’t been in any goal line defense. Think about that,” Meyer said. “I haven’t had a chat with (the Buckeyes) about that yet. We will.”
With both teams averaging more than 200 rushing yards per game -- Ohio State totals 280.7 per contest, while the Hawkeyes put up 207.5 per game on the ground -- the game could be viewed by some as a matter of who will outrush the other. Meyer said that might not necessarily be the case, however, as both squads have shown the ability to do damage through the air as well.
“You saw them throw the ball against Michigan State very effectively and that’s where they got some points,” Meyer said of Iowa’s 85th-ranked passing attack. “We’re kind of a big play offense in the pass game. I wish we were more effective in the medium stuff. We don’t want to be known as that. We want to be known as a nice, balanced offense that can score points. I’m sure they want to do the same. On paper, it might look like that, but I think everybody understands that we’re kind of hard to run against and they’re kind of hard to run against. We’re certainly not going to be stubborn.”
With both teams coming off of off-weeks on Saturday, it might be best to expect the unexpected in the battle between the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes. Meyer said that OSU added wrinkles in all facets of its game plan this week, and most likely Iowa did as well.
“We always tweak things and get a chance to self-evaluate,” Meyer said. “You don’t get a chance to do that in a typical work week.”
While Meyer’s focus is on beating the Hawkeyes and advancing to 19-0 in his two-year OSU career, the Buckeyes head coach said that he has seen the playoff committee for next season’s playoff, which was officially announced on Wednesday. Somewhat mum on the topic, Meyer admitted that he doesn’t see any alternative out there as to how the four teams in the sport’s first playoff should be selected.
“I don’t know. I don’t know any other way to do it,” Meyer said. “I like that old coaches are on there.”