IOWA CITY — Urban Meyer still wore his headphones when Toren Young bolted for a 34-yard gain to Ohio State’s 11 late in the fourth quarter.
At this point, Meyer wasn’t talking with anyone upstairs. The headphones were purely ceremonial. And they were off seconds after Young’s 6-yard run that made the score 55-24 Iowa with 1:43 left in the game.
At this point, most of the Kinnick Stadium crowd for 67,669 had thoughts on a field rush. The yellow jackets for security started to line the field. The Iowa sideline was in full party mode, jumping up and down, facing the Kinnick crowd and pumping its arms in the air.
Maybe at this point, Meyer’s thoughts turned more practical. As in, “How am I going to get out of here?”
When you check out the field rush highlights, you’ll notice Meyer’s entourage, a little red clump in a sea of a streaming black blob that kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Meyer barely made it to the top of the giant Tiger Hawk on the 50 and then barely escaped the giant black blob, looking like something from one of the minor Indiana Jones movies.
Seconds after that, Meyer was in the postgame setting. Did you notice the blue backdrop? That’s “don’t even bother, let’s just get out of here.” For postgame pressers on the road, the Buckeyes had the background draped with a Big Ten Network sheet.
After 55-24 on Saturday night, it was bright blue nothing and three minutes and 33 seconds of a coach trying to figure out why his laser eyes had stopped working.
“I’ll know more after watching the videotape and evaluate then,” he said.
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The previous 60 minutes of Meyer’s day provided him a mountain of concerns. He spent the postgame saying words and probably mentally prioritizing what freaked him out the most.
The above question was on quarterback J.T. Barrett’s four interceptions. Before officially answering, Meyer muttered “Wow,” shook his head and squinted, like he was trying to see something else. Maybe a pizza.
So, basically, Iowa, what you did there was literally run one of the most successful coaches in Big Ten history out of Kinnick.
Suddenly, the Hawkeyes (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten) find themselves at the epicenter of “Well, if I can’t go, then you can’t, either.” Ohio State (7-2, 5-1) and playoff hopes don’t belong in the same sentence, except for this one. This week, Iowa goes into Camp Randall Stadium and No. 9 Wisconsin (9-0, 6-0). The Badgers are the Big Ten’s best and probably only hope for the College Football Playoff.
But first, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, what was your favorite Josh Jackson interception? There were three, you know.
“That’s a good question,” Ferentz said.
He picked the last one. It was the start of the fourth quarter and Iowa was leading 45-17. Barrett tried the seam and wide receiver Austin Mack. Jackson closed on the ball like a shark, ripped it out of Mack’s hands and gave Iowa a first down at OSU’s 22.
“The one in the middle where he fought for that ball and took it out,” Ferentz said. “You know, probably represented the kind of effort we’re going to need to win this game tonight. We knew we had to compete, and it was a great effort by him.”
The Hawkeyes are now 4-1 against Associated Press top-five opponents at Kinnick since 2008.
We’ve been over what must’ve felt like the zombie apocalypse for Meyer. Did the Hawkeyes allow themselves a second to check out the scoreboard and see that “55” and see Ohio State on the receiving end? The Ohio State?
They did, in their own little ways.
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“It’s crazy,” Jackson said. “Hard work and preparation, it rewarded us.”
Jackson didn’t actually say he had that moment.
“Toward the end of the game in the fourth quarter, I looked at it (the scoreboard),” said Nate Stanley, whose five TD passes against the Buckeyes gives him 22 this season (11th in the country and just five behind Chuck Long’s 1985 record of 27. “Throughout the game, I knew they had a high-powered offense and they could score touchdowns fast, so you’re always aware that you still have work to do.”
Stanley didn’t do it, clearly.
Running back Akrum Wadley was a yes. Well, kind of.
“With about four minutes left, everybody was celebrating, but I still wasn’t,” said Wadley, who had 158 yards from scrimmage vs. OSU. “Anything could happen.”
Linebacker Josey Jewell said part of former Iowa all-American kicker and honorary captain for Saturday Nate Kaeding’s message to the team earlier this week was “enjoy the little things.”
“Enjoy the stuff when you’re on the sidelines,” Jewell said. “Don’t get unfocused or anything, but enjoy those things, because you’ll look back later on them and remember those times.
“Today, we enjoyed those little moments. We didn’t get unfocused, but we just understood what was going on and tried to stay in the moment.
“Enjoying the little things was big today.”
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