IOWA CITY – If Ohio State had played at home against Iowa, Urban Meyer might have made the Buckeyes walk home from the stadium.
As it was, after Iowa embarrassed them 55-24 in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, that thought still might have crossed his mind once or twice.
Dominated only begins to describe what the Hawkeyes did to the Buckeyes in the worst loss in Meyer’s six seasons as OSU’s coach.
Before Saturday, the most points Ohio State had given up in the last six seasons was 49 in a 52-49 win over Indiana in 2012. And the 55 Iowa scored is the most points allowed by an OSU team since a 63-14 loss at Penn State in 1994.
Iowa, a team averaging 25 points a game, scored 31 points by halftime and had a 31-17 lead going into the second half. One week removed from overcoming a bigger lead to beat Penn State, there was still hope for Ohio State to make a comeback.
But when OSU had only 120 yards total offense in the second half, that hope evaporated.
It was a stunning loss for Ohio State (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) a team ranked No. 3 in the polls and No. 6 in the first College Football Playoff rankings.
And it was a game to celebrate deep into the night for Iowa (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten).
“Obviously, it’s terrible feeling right now, coming off an emotional win,” Ohio State offensive lineman Billy Price said. “We took one on the chin. You go from the high of highs to the low of the lows.”
Defensive end Tyquan Lewis said, “You go into every game expecting to dominate. Obviously, it didn’t turn out that way.
“A loss is a loss to me. They feel the same. It makes you sick to your stomach,” he said.
OSU coach Urban Meyer said he didn’t sense a letdown during the week leading up to the embarrassment Iowa handed his team.
“I was concerned. I tried to watch it very closely but I didn’t see it. Sometimes I see signs but I didn’t,” Meyer said.
He pointed to four major factors that hurt the Buckeyes the most. “Obviously, turnovers. They controlled the line of scrimmage. We didn’t stop them. It was a tough environment.”
In addition to those issues, OSU lost defensive lineman Nick Bosa for the second half after he was called for a personal foul and targeting.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said, “We came into this game as heavy underdogs for good reason. We grew up a little today.”
Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley passed for 226 yards threw five touchdown passes – two each to tight ends T.J. Hockeson and Noah Fant and one to fullback Drake Kulick. Running back Akrum Wadley had 118 yards on 20 carries and the Hawkeyes rolled up 487 yards total offense.
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, who was spectacular in a 39-38 comeback win against Penn State, struggled through possibly the worst game of his career on Saturday.
Barrett threw for 208 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw a career-worst four interceptions, including one on Ohio State’s first offensive play of the game that Iowa’s Amani Hooker turned into a touchdown.
Barrett had gone 190 consecutive passes without an interception dating back to the Oklahoma game Sept. 9 before Hooker’s pick.
Ohio State played catch-up the rest of the game. It tied the Hawkeyes three times in the first half but never took the lead.
The offensive struggles seemed to be magnified when starting left tackle Jamarco Jones and starting right guard Demetrius Knox were injured on consecutive plays with the game tied 17-17 halfway through the second quarter.
They returned to the game but the offense was never the same. The only points Ohio State scored in the final 40 minutes of the game were set up when Iowa’s punter called a fake punt on his own and OSU took over deep in Iowa territory.
Iowa ranked tenth in the Big Ten in scoring and 88th nationally coming into the game.
The Buckeyes’ defensive deficiencies probably hurt them as badly as the struggles of Barrett and the offense.
OSU’s defensive backs and linebackers have had letdowns throughout the season and the linebackers have been inconsistent. But the defensive line also struggled this time, getting only one sack of Stanley.
“They just played very well against us. They didn’t really do anything different than they’d been doing,” Meyer said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.