Sometimes things just don’t go your way on the football field. Your normally sure-handed receivers drop catchable balls that could break the game open. You rack up penalties and the other team doesn’t. An off-target pass gets batted into the air and intercepted rather than falling to the ground. You’re playing in enemy territory, on the opponent’s Senior Night, before a bunch of screaming fans, against a determined opponent that is hoping to salvage a disappointing season with a win.
When you are faced with such adversity, a football game can become a test of character. Many teams fold under the pressure and experience the bitterness of defeat. Good teams find a way to dig deep, overcome such obstacles, and win.
So it was with Ohio State last night. The Buckeyes entered the fourth quarter tied with Iowa after some tough, hard-nosed football and lots of missed opportunities. After an errant Terrelle Pryor pass caromed into the hands of a Hawkeye defender, Iowa got a quick score to lead 17-10, with only 12:10 to go in the game. The Hawkeyes and their home town fans were fired up, and the Buckeyes had their backs to the wall.
Yet Ohio State found a way to answer. It took the ensuing kickoff, marched down the field, and Devin Barclay kicked a 48-yard field goal to pull the Buckeyes within four. Then the defense came up big, forcing a three-and-out by the Hawkeyes. Ohio State got the ball back on their own 24 and again moved the ball downfield with a mix of runs and passes. On third-and-ten at the 50, Terrelle Pryor threw a perfect strike to a wide-open DeVier Posey in the end zone — and Posey inexplicably dropped it. Many teams would have given up at that point, but not the Buckeyes. Pryor made a great, game-saving run on fourth-and-ten, and Ohio State was back in business. A short pass, a run for first down, and a great Dane Sanzenbacher catch later, the Buckeyes were two yards away from the promised land. Two gritty runs by Boom Herron got the TD, the Buckeyes’ defense stuffed Iowa again, and the Buckeyes ran out the clock for a crucial road win.
Many Ohio State fans think the team should win every game by 30 points — but that’s just not the way big-time college football works. Iowa clearly is one of the best teams in the conference, and when you play at Kinnick Stadium you can’t expect a blowout — you just play for a victory. Ohio State got that victory, and the Buckeyes now stand at 10-1 overall and 6-1 and tied for the lead with Wisconsin and Michigan State in the Big Ten with one game to go. That sounds pretty good to me.