3:30 PM ET, October 18, 2003
Ohio Stadium, COLUMBUS, OH
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Jim Tressel felt he had to reassure the 105,000-plus Ohio State fans.
"Don't be disappointed," the Ohio State state coach counseled after the No. 8 Buckeyes' 19-10 snoozefest over No. 9 Iowa on Saturday. "That was a good football game."
At least it was for the guys on defense and special teams.
Touchdown? No. The officials ruled Ohio State's Craig Krenzel fumbled at the goal line.
Michael Jenkins returned a punt for a touchdown, and Donte Whitner fell on a blocked punt in the end zone.
"The story of the game is we didn't get the job done on special teams, and that's a tough one to live with," said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who had all of his team's points scored by kicker Nate Kaeding.
The Buckeyes were coming off their first loss in 20 games, a 17-10 defeat in the rain at Wisconsin last week.
It only appeared they were knee deep in mud this week. Ohio State's offense -- with every starter from last year's national championship team back except for suspended tailback Maurice Clarett -- had one of its worst days ever.
The Buckeyes (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) had 185 yards of total offense, rushing for 56 yards on 42 attempts. Ohio State came into the game ranked 109th in total offense of the 117 Division I-A teams, and didn't move up.
"Offensively, I thought we improved as the day went on," Tressel said with a straight face.
The Hawkeyes (5-2, 1-2) all but gave the game to the Buckeyes. Trailing 17-10, Iowa blew its final chance to pull even when center Eric Rothwell snapped the ball over quarterback Nathan Chandler's head and through the end zone for a safety with 3:03 left.
Rothwell had been switched to center when starter Brian Ferentz, son of the head coach, was injured.
"We were thinking at the time that this is what it comes down to," defensive lineman Tim Anderson said. "It had been a defensive battle. We thought that down would either win us the game of lose it for us. They had that bad snap and it worked out in our favor."
The Buckeyes led 10-3 at the half on Jenkins' 54-yard punt return.
After Ohio State forced the Hawkeyes to punt on their second possession, Jenkins pulled in the kick at his own 46 and dodged a near tackle by Bob Sanders almost immediately. Jenkins cut through the right side, avoiding diving tackles by Mike Klinkenborg and Grant Steen for a score on only the second return of his career.
"I didn't even really know the return call," Jenkins said. "I didn't know if they were blocking it to the side or up the middle. I just got the ball and there was already a guy on my leg. I made a cut to my right and took another step. The guys threw some great blocks and I was able to take it to the end zone."
Ohio State's unproductive offense wasted a chance to extend the lead.
Craig Krenzel tossed a 34-yard pass to Drew Carter just inside the sideline at the Iowa 1 late in the half. With the ball barely 2 feet from the goal line, Krenzel kept on first down and lost a yard. He then tried to dive over the line on another keeper but was met by Iowa's Abdul Hodge as he stretched the ball out over his linemen. The ball popped loose and Iowa's Sean Considine covered the ball on the 1 to end the threat.
"I was just trying to make something happen," said Krenzel, who completed 11 of 22 passes for 129 yards and "led" the Buckeyes with 14 carries for 20 yards rushing.
The Buckeyes' running backs did not carry the ball in the first period and had 7 net yards on seven attempts in the opening half. By the finish, no Ohio State back rushed for more than 20 yards.
Iowa was equally inept on offense, with Chandler twice fumbling snaps from center on critical plays -- once to give away the ball on first down at the Ohio State 28 early in the third quarter.
On fourth and 10 from the Iowa 13 with 7:54 left in the quarter, David Bradley dropped back to punt. Ohio State's Roy Hall sprinted untouched up the middle of the field and ran into Bradley, the ball squirting into the end zone where Whitner fell on it for the touchdown at the 7:54 mark.
That made it 17-3 and with the Hawkeyes continually dropping passes and center snaps or losing big yardage on sweeps, it seemed unlikely they could make up the deficit.
A 51-yard pass from Chandler to Ramon Ochoa helped set up a first down at the Ohio State 4 but Chandler and Fred Russell muffed a handoff that ended up losing 15 yards. On fourth and goal from the 5, the Hawkeyes lined up for a field goal. But holder Bradley took the snap and pitched to Kaeding who skirted right end untouched for the touchdown on the second play of the fourth quarter.
"I was running for my life because they've got some big hitters over there," Kaeding said. "I looked over my shoulder for the ball and ran like hell for the pylon."
Russell gained 42 yards on 22 carries for Iowa, while Chandler completed 14 of 27 passes for 153 yards with one interception.
Asked what more he could have asked of his defense, Ferentz said, "They could have scored. That would have helped."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-17||6-17|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-1|
|FG||9:56||MIKE NUGENT 53 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 28 yards.
|TD||9:22||MICHAEL JENKINS 54 YD PUNT RETURN (MIKE NUGENT KICK)||0||10|
|FG||2:45||NATE KAEDING 36 YD FG|
Drive info: 14 plays, 51 yards.
|TD||7:54||DONTE WHITNER 0 YD BLOCKED PUNT RETURN (MIKE NUGENT KICK)||3||17|
|TD||14:09||NATE KAEDING 5 YD RUN (NATE KAEDING KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 60 yards.