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Published: Sunday, 11/15/2009

OSU notebook: Iowa gives Ohio State all it can handle

BY MAUREEN FULTON
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE
Running back Brandon Saine had his first two-touchdown game for the Buckeyes. Running back Brandon Saine had his first two-touchdown game for the Buckeyes.
JAY LAPRETE / AP Enlarge

COLUMBUS - What, you thought Iowa was just going to give the Big Ten to the Buckeyes?

The Hawkeyes, undefeated until falling to Northwestern a week ago, came into Ohio Stadium as a 17-point underdog. Without injured starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi, many believed Iowa wouldn't be able to challenge Ohio State on the road.

Although the Buckeyes ultimately won 27-24, Iowa didn't let the loss of Stanzi nor a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit become discouraging.

"Both teams played a tremendous game," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "We competed back and forth all game. It's a tough loss, but we are going to regroup."

Freshman quarterback James Vandenberg showed poise despite several dropped passes by Iowa receivers and displayed a strong, accurate arm.

"James played a heck of a game," Ferentz said. "It wasn't unexpected. We know what he is capable of. He was very impressive and has a good handle on our system. James played with mental and physical toughness."

Using Penn State as a measuring stick, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said he felt the Buckeyes would have to play better than a week prior in Happy Valley because the Hawkeyes also had handled the Nittany Lions.

"Iowa's a good team, and I don't think we can lose sight of that as we record this afternoon," Tressel said.

RUN, RUN, RUN: Ohio State's offense didn't do much else besides run the ball yesterday, with 51 rushes to 17 passes. It paid off - the Buckeyes' 229 rushing yards were the most by an Iowa opponent this season. Brandon Saine had the first two-touchdown game of his career, and Dan Herron had a career-high 32 carries and 97 yards. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor rushed the ball eight times for 29 yards, including a 19-yarder.

"They were breaking tackles and they were keeping their pads low," Tressel said. "They were doing a great job. Those are two tough kids and the seniors mean a lot to those two. Those two guys have been here three years, they've been with the seniors for a long time. And they were not going to let those seniors down."

The backs were particularly impressive early in the fourth quarter. Herron's touchdown, an 11-yard run, came off a direct snap. Saine seemed to fly down the sideline on his 49-yard dash two minutes later.

"They blitzed at the wrong time, so the cutback was right there," Saine said. "I tried to follow a couple blockers and once I saw the goal line, I had to get in."

SENIOR DAY: The Buckeyes recognized their 19-member senior class before the game. Seven were starters yesterday: tight end Jake Ballard, safety Kurt Coleman, offensive lineman Jim Cordle, defensive lineman Todd Denlinger, safety Anderson Russell, linebacker Austin Spitler, and defensive lineman Doug Worthington.

KICKING IT UP: OSU kicker Devin Barclay, the hero with a 39-yard field goal in overtime, spent five years as a professional in Major League Soccer, including a stint with the Columbus Crew.

"A lot of people ask me about this, the challenge of switching to this sport," Barclay said. "It's not that big a deal. In soccer, the challenge is keeping the ball down when you kick it. So it's not that hard of a transition to kicking it up, which is much more natural, in football."

UNI TALK: Ohio State officially unveiled the uniforms it will wear for one time only, in the Michigan game on Saturday. The style is a tribute to the 1954 national championship team. A release says the Nike Pro Combat uniform is 37 percent lighter than current designs. The Buckeyes will also wear all-white helmets.

EXTRA POINTS: Tressel is 4-1 in overtime games. The last overtime game in Ohio Stadium was Sept. 13, 2003 in a win over North Carolina State. … Ohio State's fifth straight Big Ten championship is one off its record of six in a row, set from 1972-1977. … Ohio State has beaten the Hawkeyes 11 of the last 12 meetings.



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