Sunday, October 19, 2003

Ohio State 19, Iowa 10

Buckeyes' offense sputters again

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COLUMBUS - It will be called an ugly Ohio State victory, although that term may now be redundant.

Yet beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Jim Tressel saw his team's 19-10 beating of Iowa on Saturday - a game played without an offensive touchdown - as suitable for framing.

"It was a Big Ten football game out there," Tressel said. "Don't be disappointed. That was a good football game."

Good for fans of strong defense and special teams. Which OSU had.

Bad for the PlayStation generation, which considers the Buckeyes' offense as entertaining as C-SPAN.

This was OSU's second victory without an offensive touchdown, having previously edged San Diego State 16-13 in that fashion. Totaling a season-low 185 yards to Iowa's 215, the game marked the fifth time in the past six games OSU was outgained by its opponent.

OSU, which ranked No. 109 of 117 Division I-A teams this week in total offense, will now likely drop further as its average slumps to 278.3 yards.

And yet Tressel talked of the offense improving Saturday.

"I thought we did work to get a little bit better - not enough to be touted as anything out of this world, but enough to be touted as now 6-1," he said. "... Based upon what I saw, I thought we improved."

Tressel's key contention was how OSU picked up four fourth-quarter first downs, three of them while it clung to a 17-10 lead.

Three of those four came on the ground, which made up, in Tressel's eyes, for a net total of just 56 rushing yards on 42 carries.

"We ran the ball in tough conditions in the second half ... when it was obvious we were going to be running the ball," he said.

Regardless of the viewpoint, it was a critical triumph for the eighth-ranked Buckeyes (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten).

"We definitely took the loss (last week at Wisconsin) as a gut check," linebacker Bobby Carpenter said. "It was important for us to stop the bleeding, come out and show we're not going to lay down."

With Wisconsin losing Saturday, OSU now trails only Purdue and Michigan State in the Big Ten race; both are 4-0. Yet the Buckeyes play both.

Their defense overcame a litany of offensive sins. Ranking No. 1 nationally against the run, it allowed the Hawkeyes (5-2, 1-2) just 66 yards on 40 carries.

"Our guys wanted to make a statement today," defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio said. "Everything we did dominated the line of scrimmage."

Special teams were the difference Saturday. Michael Jenkins returned a punt 52 yards for a touchdown. Roy Hall blocked a punt in the end zone that Dante Whitner recovered for another score.

Mike Nugent made a career-best 53-yard field goal, and B.J. Sander punted eight times for a 44.8-yard average.

As for Tressel's conservative style: Give him credit at least for creativity.

He tried a flea-flicker, a reverse and a shovel pass Saturday. He replaced Chris Gamble with Jenkins as punt returner, which paid off immediately. The key concern remains the running game. Quarterback Craig Krenzel was the leading rusher Saturday with 20 yards on 14 attempts. Ira Guilford had 18 yards on eight carries. The top two tailbacks were again disappointing: Lydell Ross had 16 yards on nine carries; Maurice Hall had 13 yards on eight rushes.

Ohio St.10072-19

First Quarter

OSt-FG Nugent 53, 9:56.

OSt-Jenkins 54 punt return (Nugent kick), 9:22.

Second Quarter

Iowa-FG Kaeding 36, 2:45.

Third Quarter

OSt-Whitner blocked punt recovery in end zone (Nugent kick), 7:54.

Fourth Quarter

Iowa-Kaeding 5 run (Kaeding kick), 14:09.

OSt-Safety, ball snapped through end zone, 3:03.


First downs1511
Return Yards83130
Time of Possession29:5230:08


RUSHING-Iowa, Russell 22-42, Chandler 10-25, Kaeding 1-5, Ochoa 1-4, Cervantes 1-0, Lewis 2-(minus 4), team 3-(minus 6). Ohio St., Krenzel 14-20, Guilford 8-18, Ross 9-16, Hall 8-13, Gamble 1-0, team 1-(minus 1), Sander 1-(minus 10).

PASSING-Iowa, Chandler 14-27-1-153. Ohio St., Krenzel 11-22-0-129.

RECEIVING-Iowa, Ochoa 4-86, Cervantes 3-0, Hinkel 2-24, Davis 2-24, Follett 1-12, T.Jackson 1-6, Russell 1-1. Ohio St., Carter 6-95, Hartsock 2-17, Jenkins 1-6, Schnittker 1-6, Ross 1-5.

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