Football Ohio States championship hopes fade away in loss to Iowa

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer paces along the sideline during Ohio State’s 55-24 loss to Iowa on Nov. 4. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorIOWA CITY, Iowa — As Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer sunk into his chair in the postgame press conference room, a mixture of disbelief and despair washed over his face.No. 6 Ohio State (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) entered its matchup against Iowa (6-3, 3-3) with all the momentum in the world behind it. The Buckeyes left sullen and defeated, having lost 55-24 to Iowa, a team they were was favored to beat by 20-plus points.As Meyer sat, pondering over all that could have gone wrong to lead his team to a crushing defeat, his mind racing over everything he watched happen on the field, all he could muster for an explanation was, “I don’t know.”His team entered Kinnick Stadium having just resuscitated its playoff hopes with a 39-38 comeback win against Penn State to plant it right in the middle of the playoff conversation. The focus immediately turned to whether enough chaos in college football would reign for the Buckeyes to earn one of the four spots.Chaos did not shake the rest of the field of playoff contenders, rather it shook the field in Kinnick Stadium as tens of thousands of fans clad in black and gold stormed the field 16 seconds before the clock ticked down to zero to celebrate the Iowa Hawkeyes’ upset victory of Ohio State.No one on the team will admit it, but any reflection on this season will be in a negative light. This will go down as a lost season for Ohio State and the final year of Barrett’s storied Ohio State career will go down as one of missed opportunities.Meyer’s answers to every question after the game were simple, and almost all the exact same. Nearly every question was answered with something about having to look back at the tape before he can make assumptions.A review of the tape will show the cause was something those in the media and outside the locker room feared: Ohio State was not prepared.The Hawkeyes’ win gave the Buckeyes their second loss of the season, effectively ending any hope Ohio State had at finishing quarterback J.T. Barrett’s final season in Scarlet and Gray with a national championship trophy. No team has ever made the College Football Playoff with two losses.Redshirt senior center Billy Price was asked about the team’s playoff hopes, but deflected the question, instead looking at what is still possible for his team.“Well the good thing, the Big Ten East, we’re still in the driver’s seat for this right now,” Price said. “That is first and foremost our goal is to win the Big Ten East itself. Win every week, take care of every opponent that we can, win the Big Ten East. … The success that follows that is not necessarily our primary goal itself. So everything that we still want to play for is still in front of us.”Though he might not have been ready to admit it, the goal for the team was not to come away as champions of the Big Ten East. The Buckeyes would still claim the division title if they win out, but that is not what they entered the season hoping to achieve. At Ohio State, the end goal is and always will be to come away with a national championship. The 2016 season was viewed as a failure because Ohio State was blown out in the semifinals. The season prior was viewed as a failure because the team’s one loss to Michigan State kept it out of the playoff, despite the fact Ohio State annihilated Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. All but four teams each season fail to reach the playoffs. But to Ohio State, not being one of those four teams is a failure.Questions had surrounded Ohio State this week about how it would rebound after such a dramatic victory against Penn State. Could the team bounce back and remain focused traveling to a notoriously tough road environment?The answer all week had always been an emphatic, “Yes.” Every player, every coach came out with the same response: They were ready for this game. The hangover left from the celebration after the big win would not affect the performance Saturday.Yet they looked unprepared. Meyer was outcoached. The coaching staff was outcoached. The players were outplayed. Every punch Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes threw Ohio State’s way landed, and Ohio State was never able to land a counter-punch. The end result was a beating the likes of which a Meyer-led Ohio State offense had never seen, as the 55 points scored by Iowa was the most he has ever allowed as a head coach.Reflecting back on the week, Meyer said he had more reservations about his team’s preparedness for the game. “Sure I was concerned,” Meyer said. “I didn’t see it. I will try to watch very closely, like I normally do. I didn’t see the signs. I usually I do see signs if I do, I address them and move forward, but I didn’t see it.”Meyer will spend Sunday sorting through tape to determine what went wrong for his Buckeyes. He then might have better answers to the questions posed to him Monday, or he might continue to be as befuddled as he was Saturday night.But as he combs through the tape and reviews his team’s performance, the only thing that will matter is that his team’s season, concerning preseason championship aspirations, is over.

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