Dienhart: 'This was one of Kirk Ferentz’s finest hours'

Dienhart: 'This was one of Kirk Ferentz’s finest hours'

Penn State knows how it feels. So does Michigan. Now, add Ohio State to the list of highly ranked teams that have come into Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium and had its dreams crushed.

Ohio State’s playoff hopes? Over, lost amid the rubble of a stupefying 55-24 loss at Iowa. If this crash wasn’t bad enough, Penn State also went down 27-24 at Michigan State, giving the Nittany Lions two losses on the season … just like the Buckeyes. And no team ever has made the playoff with two defeats.

If you sift through Ohio State’s wreckage, you also may find the Big Ten’s playoff hopes. Oh, they are still alive—barely—thanks to 9-0 Wisconsin, which won unimpressivly at Indiana and has games left at home vs. Iowa and Michigan before ending the year at Minnesota.

Some think even if the Badgers win the Big Ten with a 13-0 mark, they still could get left out of the four-team playoff because of a weak resume. Yes, a lot can happen between now and the final College Football Playoff rankings, but it’s something to keep on your radar. No denying it: Today’s results in Iowa City and East Lansing put a hurting on Big Ten playoff dreams.

While Ohio State is left to ponder its fate–it will play host to Michigan State for the East title next week–America waits for its next peek at the CFP rankings, which comes out Tuesday. In the first poll last week, the Big Ten was shut out of the top 4. Ohio State was the highest ranked league team, coming in at No. 6 behind No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 4 Clemson. Next up was No. 5 Oklahoma, with Penn State No. 7 and Wisconsin No. 9.

But let’s forget about the playoff for a bit and celebrate the Hawkeyes! This was a shellacking, a good old-fashioned woodshed beating administered by Iowa. The Hawkeyes are famous for smashing souls.

Back in 2008, No. 3 Penn State got shot down, 24-23, in Kinnick. Last year, No. 2 Michigan got dumped at Iowa, 14-13. (The Hawkeyes came within a whisker of beating No. 4 Penn State earlier this year, falling 21-19.) Today’s demolition of the Buckeyes was impressive upset yet by Iowa.

“Our guys played with a lot of heart and toughness,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.

The Hawkeyes turned this into a laugher, leading 38-17 after three quarters and 48-17 earlier in the fourth. Big game? This had the feel of an early-season tilt vs. East Timbuktu State. By the time the last second dripped off the clock and the fans stormed the field, this was a 55-24 blowout that had Buckeye fans crying and left OSU 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten.

What happened?

Perhaps we should have seen this coming a week after the Buckeyes expended a lot of emotion in roaring back from an 11-point deficit in the final five minutes to beat No. 2 Penn State, 39-38.

Barrett was sensational, hitting 33-of-39 passes for 328 yards and four TDs and leading the team with 95 yards rushing vs. the Nittany Lions. He put himself squarely in the Heisman hunt, ranking No. 1 in the Big Ten in total offense (327.5 ypg) after last week.

But tonight, Barrett can forget about the Heisman—and maybe a Big Ten title and playoff berth. He hit just in th18-of-34 passes for 208 yards with three TD and a career-high four interceptions in a demoralizing effort that was similar to his struggles in a September loss to Oklahoma. Just like that, all the good Barrett built up the previous six games is gone, as the 55 points were the most allowed by an Urban Meyer Buckeye team. This felt as bad as OSU’s 31-0 loss to Clemson in the playoff last year, as the Buckeyes had 371 yards.

“We just didn’t play very well,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

Poof.

Kudos to Iowa (6-3 overall; 3-3 Big Ten), which needed a signature win this season … and got it vs. the Buckeyes. This sets up a juicy Iowa at Wisconsin game next week. Could the Hawkeyes pull another big upset, this time taking down the perfect Badgers?

Let’s enjoy this one a bit longer before moving on. This was one of Kirk Ferentz’s finest hours. And credit goes to an Iowa offense that entered the game No. 10 in the Big Ten overall (345.9 ypg), No. 10 in scoring (25.0 ppg) and No. 10 in rushing (130.8 ypg). But on this day, Iowa looked like the “Greatest Show on Turf” in notching 487 yards vs. the Big Ten’s No. 4 defense (302.5 ypg).

Sophomore signal-caller Nate Stanley continues to develop, showing he will be more than an adequate replacement for C.J. Beathard. Stanley connected on 20-of-31 passes for 226 yards with five touchdowns and no picks. Just think: The kid has two more years left after this.

But it’s the run game that needs to take a bow, especially a line that has had to overcome injuries to tackles Ike Boettger and Boone Myers. Redshirt freshman Alaric Jackson and true freshman Tristan Wirfs have gotten a baptism by fire … and are doing OK at OT.

The run game had struggled for most of Big Ten play. Through the first five league games, Iowa had been held under 100 yards rushing three times. But today, the Hawkeye front paved the way for 243 yards rushing. Akrum Wadley was the star, rushing 20 times for 118 yards.

Another Goliath has been slayed by Iowa.

Ho-hum.

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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