In their past two games, the Ohio State Buckeyes have been tested through three quarters of football and responded with dominant fourth quarters to extend their now 19-game winning streak. Their ability to make big plays on both sides of the ball late could keep that streak going for a long time.
Two weeks ago at Northwestern, it was a surge from running back Carlos Hyde that put the Buckeyes over the top in a 40-30 win. Today it was the elusiveness of quarterback Braxton Miller and a timely turnover that made Ohio State the better team in a 34-24 home victory over Iowa.
Several times today, the Iowa defense got pressure on Miller, but was unable to make the tackle as Miller made one defender after another miss, turned the field around and ran for first downs. Miller finished the game today with 282 yards of offense (222 passing, 60 rushing on 18 attempts) and two touchdown passes. More importantly for Ohio State than the yardage, was the fact that Miller went 22-for-27 in the air, allowing the Buckeyes to take advantage of a suspect Hawkeye secondary.
The game’s lone turnover came with just over four minutes left in regulation. Ohio State had just gotten a Drew Basil 25-yard field goal to put the Buckeyes up by 10. Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock attempted to fit the ball into a tight window near midfield and Ohio State defensive back Tyvis Powell picked off Rudock’s pass. From there the Buckeyes were able to run out the clock and send the Hawkeyes to a second-consecutive conference loss.
Just like in the Northwestern game, Iowa hung right with Ohio State through three quarters. While Hyde didn’t have as big of a second half today as he did two weeks ago, he was still instrumental in Ohio State’s win late in the game. 70 of Hyde’s 149 yards came in the fourth quarter, and his fourth-quarter touchdown broke the 24-24 tie, which was the score at the beginning of that final period.
Ten-point wins in the fourth quarter certainly have continued Ohio State’s winning streak, but it’s fair to wonder what will happen if the Buckeyes play in the first three quarters, which has allowed two teams with sub-.500 conference records to be neck-and-neck, ever gets them into a real hole. For most of the first half, Iowa controlled the clock and ran the ball down Ohio State’s throat. A team that Ohio State could potentially face in the Big Ten championship game might be able to capitalize off of Ohio State taking a while to get going.
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