Ohio State enters its matchup with Iowa as the No. 3 team in the USA Today football coaches poll, but a victory is not a foregone conclusion.
This college football season has already seen a number of major upsets occur. Just last week, three of the top 10 teams in the country suffered losses, which changed the entire landscape of the season.
The Buckeyes would like to avoid a similar fate in this conference game, although it will not be easy. The Hawkeyes have a chance to pull off the upset if they follow these keys to victory.
Continue to Stop the Run
Iowa matches up with Ohio State very well in that the defense does a great job of stopping the run.
Not only does the unit rank eighth in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game, but it is the only team in the nation that has not allowed a rushing touchdown all season.
While Braxton Miller gets most of the headlines for the Buckeyes, running back Carlos Hyde proved against Northwestern that he can carry the team on his own. The senior finished with 168 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries.
This set up the entire offense, since it allowed Miller to have space on read-options and provided plenty of time to throw the ball on play-action passes.
Still, this entire offense could be slowed down if Iowa's defensive line can handle Hyde early in the game.
Reestablish the Rushing Attack
A week after rushing for 246 yards against Minnesota, Iowa's run game was completely shut down by Michigan State.
Mark Weisman was forced to miss much of the loss with an injury, but he still only managed nine yards on seven carries while in the game. As a team, the Hawkeyes finished with 23 yards on 16 carries.
The embarrassing part of this statistic is that Iowa was actually competitive against Michigan State and even led at halftime. Still, the coaching staff decided it would be best to throw the ball 46 times.
Fortunately, things should be better against the Buckeyes, as Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch reports that Weisman is expected to return. Even with the poor performance against the Spartans, the running back ranks 19th in the country and third in the Big Ten in rushing yards.
If the squad can get him going on Saturday, it will have a strong chance to control the game.
Win the Turnover Battle
Northwestern put up a strong fight against Ohio State, but the Wildcats were helped tremendously by three turnovers by Miller. The quarterback fumbled twice—once inside the opposing 10-yard line.
Iowa would be quite fortunate if this happens again, although the team has to make its own luck in this one.
While the unit has done a good job of forcing turnovers, the offense has been giving away the ball too often this season. This has cost the team a couple of games this year.
In four wins, the Hawkeyes have a turnover differential of plus-five. In two losses, the differential is minus-three. A positive number in this category will likely lead to a positive result on the scoreboard.
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