Ohio State: World-beating Buckeyes are back, making Iowa fiasco even weirder

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State team nobody in the country would want to face is back.

That makes the bizarre disappearance one week earlier even more puzzling.

In every aspect, the Buckeyes were operating at the peak of their powers. And when all three phases are rolling, the coaching staff is pushing the right buttons and the ridiculous collection of talent is locked in on the task at hand, there is nobody in the Big Ten that can match Ohio State’s high-end performance.

It was on full display against Michigan State on Saturday, and the 48-3 rout again put the Buckeyes in control of the East Division and perhaps in pole position to win the conference. So, again, why did that version of Ohio State disappear at Iowa?

There may never be an answer that makes sense, especially when that debacle was immediately followed by one of the more complete, impressive efforts of the Urban Meyer era in a high-stakes matchup. Maybe the Buckeyes just forgot that the Hawkeyes still could wreck their bid to return to the College Football Playoff, or perhaps it’s just the unpredictable nature of the sport and an inopportune bad day for just about everybody affiliated with the program.

Either way, it was almost impossible to watch the Buckeyes flex the kind of strength that only one or two other teams in the country would ever even want to tussle with and not keep scratching your head about how weak they looked against the Hawkeyes.

There were the Silver Bullets, destroying the Michigan State offensive line on just about every snap and finally forcing turnovers again. Even without two injured starters at linebacker with Jerome Baker and Dante Booker unexpectedly on the shelf, Ohio State dipped into its deep reserve of talent and got productive outings from Tuf Borland and Malik Harrison instead.

Those much-maligned special teams? The kickoffs were perfectly placed, the field position remained solidly in Ohio State’s favor and the problems of October seemed like a distant memory.

As for the offense, it’s clear the Buckeyes absorbed the painful lesson from the loss and rediscovered their identity as a power-rushing threat. One week after seemingly abandoning what they do best on the ground, the Buckeyes rode J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber with a combined 18 carries in the first half alone, gashing the Spartans up front for 223 yards and a couple touchdowns between the two of them while building a 32-point lead by intermission.

The loss to Iowa still will sting for the Buckeyes over the coming weeks, make no mistake about that. The odds of getting back into the College Football Playoff mix remain long, obviously. But if it has become motivational fuel on game day or simply a reminder of the importance of never taking anything for granted in college football, maybe that defeat can become something of a benefit.

After all, the Buckeyes have solidified their standing in the Big Ten, and conference championships remain difficult, valuable things to win. And some day, there will be a 2-loss team that crashes the playoff party — most likely one that has a league title on the resume.

Will it be Ohio State? That’s still a discussion for another day and still not something it should really worry about now that it likely has three more games to win.

The only thing that should be on the minds of the Buckeyes is making sure whoever wore their jerseys last week never comes back.

The post Ohio State: World-beating Buckeyes are back, making Iowa fiasco even weirder appeared first on Land of 10.

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