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.
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
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
The Buckeyes led 10-3 at the half on Jenkins' 54-yard punt
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
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
"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."