By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa football team hasn’t hosted Ohio State in Kinnick Stadium since 2010, but Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz says these are the same ole’ Buckeyes.
“The last time we played them (in 2013), somebody told me they were ranked third then as well,” Ferentz said during a Tuesday news conference inside the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center. “That’s typical when you play Ohio State.
“You can expect a great football team to go against and this team is no different. They are one of the premiere programs in college football.”
The third-ranked Buckeyes visit Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. (CT) start. Ohio State is 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten; Iowa is 5-3, 2-3.
Since suffering its only defeat of the season — 31-16 at No. 8 Oklahoma — the Buckeyes have scored 38 or more points in six straight contests. Iowa’s defense has allowed 17 or fewer points in four straight games, including 10 in a 17-10 victory over Minnesota on Oct. 28.
Something will give.
Ohio State averages 571.2 yards of offense and averages 46.2 points per game. Iowa’s defense surrenders 17.4 points to rank 12th nationally and 345.9 yards of offense.
The Buckeyes present a challenge with a Heisman Trophy candidate coming to Kinnick Stadium following a near flawless performance in a 39-38 come-from-behind victory Oct. 28 over No. 7 Penn State.
Senior quarterback J.T. Barrett completed 33-of-39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns — three of which came in the fourth quarter. Barrett completed his final 16 passes, including 13 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Buckeyes back from a 15-point deficit to hand the Nittany Lions their first loss of the season.
Barrett is 33-5 as Ohio State’s starting quarterback, where he has 33 school and four Big Ten records. Barrett has a 25:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and he has completed 69.5 percent of his passes (171-of-246) for 2,166 yards.
“J.T. is a tremendous player. I hope he doesn’t have as many yards as the last (Heisman) contender we played because that guy was really good, too,” said Ferentz, alluding to Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. “That’s part of the Big Ten; you play against good guys that are outstanding football players.”
For the Hawkeyes to pull off an upset, Ferentz says Iowa must find a way to be in the game in the fourth quarter. The blueprint lies in last season’s upset of No. 2 Michigan, or even the last-second 21-19 loss to No. 4 Penn State on Sept. 23.
“We have to be ready to play football or it could get turned fast,” said Ferentz. “They have done that to a lot of people this year already where they have put 60-some points on the board. It starts with how you think. You have to go in there and try to give yourself the best chance to be successful.”
Ohio State leads the all-time series 47-14-3. The Buckeyes have won 13 of the last 14 meetings since 1992 with Iowa’s lone victory coming in 2004 — a 33-7 triumph. Two of the last three meetings have been decided by a field goal and Ohio State won the last matchup, 34-24, in Columbus, Ohio.
“We have had good games with them and some that weren’t so good,” said Ferentz. “If we are going to have a chance to win, we are going to have to be there in the fourth quarter and that’s going to be easier said than done. We are going to have to fight our tails off to get there.”
Approximately 3,000 tickets remain for Saturday’s game and they can be purchased through the UI Athletics Ticket Office or at hawkeyesports.com. The game will be televised on ESPN with Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Todd McShay on the call.