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Five For Iowa: What You Need To Know As The Buckeyes Take On The Hawkeyes

1.       Senior Night. No matter who the opponent is, Senior Night is always an emotionally charged event for the home team. Iowa's 26 seniors are playing their final home game in Kinnick Stadium, and while they cannot win the Big Ten, they can still spoil Ohio State's chances. It will be a rowdy environment, much like the one at Camp Randall in October, and that could play into Iowa's favor heavily.

2.       Ohio State's offensive line vs. Iowa's defensive line. The Buckeye front five have exerted their will on opponent's the past few weeks, yet they face their stiffest test against Iowa this weekend. Defensive linemen Adrian Clayborn, Christian Ballard, Mike Daniels, and Karl Klug form one of the finest groups in the country. Clayborn is almost assuredly a first round pick in April's NFL draft, and Klug is one of the most tenacious defensive tackles you will ever find. The group as a whole does an excellent job controlling the line of scrimmage, allowing Iowa's linebackers to make plays. They are by far the best unit on the Hawkeye defense, and if the Bucks want to move the ball, they will have to start by moving the front four.

3.       Terrelle Pryor. The defensive strategies that have given Ohio State the most trouble this season have been two deep zones designed to make it difficult for Pryor to pass. Iowa's defense is almost exclusively based on two deep coverages, so Pryor must be patient on Saturday. Look for Ohio State to continue to run Pryor on the inverted veer play, which they debuted last weekend against Penn State. By utilizing Pryor as a runner, Ohio State can gain a numbers advantage against two deep coverages, thereby forcing Iowa to make a decision: either run the risk of giving up huge yardage against veer, or alter your coverages to get an extra man in the box. No matter what happens, Ohio State wins by forcing Iowa to adapt to their strategy, instead of the other way around.


4.     Ricky Stanzi. Just as Terrelle Pryor will hold the key to Ohio State offensive success on Saturday, so too will Ricky Stanzi hold the key to Iowa offensive success.  Stanzi has put together a fine year, improving on his junior campaign in virtually every category. With an improvement of ten points in his completion percentage, the Americanzi is performing at an all-time high. Stanzi, a native of Mentor, has improved most, though, in his reduction of crippling offensive mistakes. After tossing 15 interceptions a year ago, Stanzi has only thrown four this season for an excellent interception percentage of 1.4%. If Ohio State can coerce the junior Stanzi out of hibernation, it will go a long way towards a Buckeye victory.

5.       The 4th Quarter.  All three of Iowa's losses have included poor 4th quarter play. Against Arizona, a poor 4th quarter derailed the comeback effort ; against Wisconsin, poor 4th quarter play allowed Wisconsin to scrape by with a one point victory; against Northwestern, poor 4th quarter play cost them a ten point lead and, ultimately, a victory. If the game is close going into the 4th quarter, Ohio State fans should take comfort from recent history.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.