Ohio State grade card: Defense rules in win over Iowa

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A grade card on Ohio State’s 54-10 win over Iowa:

OFFENSE: B-

OSU’s passing game was a late arrival. Its running game was stuck in neutral most of the day. The Buckeyes had a season low of 360 yards total offense, nearly 200 yards below their average. Despite all that, they still put more points on the scoreboard than they had in all but one of their first six games.

Ohio State began four first-half drives inside Iowa’s 35-yard line but had to settle for field goals on all four of them. C.J. Stroud was 20 of 30 for 286 yards and four touchdowns but it wasn’t until the second half that he and his receivers got comfortable against a good Iowa defense.

The offensive line protected Stroud well. A first-quarter strip sack for a touchdown that gave Iowa an early 7-0 lead was the only sack OSU allowed. But the Buckeyes struggled to run the ball throughout the game. They finished with only 66 yards on the ground and TreVeyon Henderson was the leading rusher with 39 yards.

Ohio State averaged 2.2 yards per running play and was 3 of 13 on third down conversions. Miyan Williams’ 13-yard run was the only rushing play that went for more than nine yards.

Receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba played for the first time since Sept. 17 and caught a pass, which was encouraging. But he appeared to be limping slightly when he left the game and did not return, which was discouraging.

DEFENSE: A

Iowa’s offense is terrible by any measurement. But regardless of the level of competition it provided, Ohio State’s defense still dominated the Hawkeyes, who came into the game ranked the worst offensive team in terms of total offense in major college football.

Iowa had only eight first downs and 158 yards of total offense in the game. Ohio State sacked Iowa quarterbacks Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla five times and produced six turnovers — three interceptions and three lost fumbles. Petras had taken every snap this season until Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz sent Padilla into the game at the beginning of the third quarter. Padilla turned the ball over on two of his first three plays.

Iowa’s offense scored only three points and advanced past the 50-yard line on just four drives.

Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg scored a touchdown on one of the interceptions and had seven tackles. Safety Lathan Ransom led OSU with eight tackles. Safety Tanner McCalister had two interceptions, which gives him three for the season. Defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau got his first sack of the season.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A-

Noah Ruggles went 4 for 4 on field goals, including a 46-yard kick, in his busiest game of the season. Only one of Jesse Mirco’s punts was returned. The punt return team recognized a fake punt attempt by Tory Taylor and stopped him short of a first down on a big hit by Caden Curry. A taunting penalty on the opening kickoff was about the only flaw that stood out on this unit.

OVERALL: B+

Ohio State can’t afford a repeat of the lack of a running game this Saturday at Penn State.

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