IOWA CITY — Big Ten teams with national title hopes should know by now to be wary of Kinnick Stadium in November.
The Ohio State Buckeyes weren’t — and their playoff aspirations are likely cooked because of it.
Nate Stanley threw for 226 yards and five touchdowns, and Iowa throttled third-ranked Ohio State 55-24 on Saturday, dealing what’s likely to be a fatal blow to the Buckeyes’ hopes of reaching college football’s Final Four.
Josh Jackson tied a school record with three interceptions for the Hawkeyes (6-3, 3-3), who beat their fourth top-five opponent in their past five tries at home. Iowa also knocked off unbeaten teams Michigan (2016) and Penn State (2008) in the regular season’s final month.
“Kinnick Stadium, it’s got its ‘Kinnick Curse’ or whatever you want to call it,” Ohio State center Billy Price said.
“I didn’t see any signs. Usually I see signs, and if I do I address them,” Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer said when asked if his team suffered a letdown after coming off an emotional 39-38 comeback win over Penn State last week.
Iowa went up 7-0 on the game’s first play — a pick-six of J.T. Barrett — and raced to a 31-17 halftime lead on a pair of Stanley TD passes to Noah Fant.
Stanley, following a successful and highly unusual fake field goal, later fired a 2-yard TD pass with a defender hanging on to his foot that put the Hawkeyes ahead 38-17 late in the third quarter.
“Our guys played with a lot of heart and toughness,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Stanley had been quietly putting up strong numbers all season. But there wasn’t anything quiet about what he did against the Buckeyes. Stanley now has 23 TD passes against just four interceptions — even tossing one to fullback Drake Kulick. “He’s been bugging me all season about that play,” Stanley joked.
Ohio State (7-2, 5-1, No. 6 CFP) allowed its most points in a game under Meyer, and Barrett had a career-high four interceptions.
“They were baiting him ... that’s their coverage,” Meyer said. “We just didn’t play very well.”
Defensive end Nick Bosa was also ejected for targeting in the first half, and the Buckeyes committed nine penalties in their most lopsided defeat since last year’s 31-0 loss to eventual national champion Clemson in the playoff.
Ohio State: It’s almost impossible to see a path that takes the two-loss Buckeyes to the playoff after a loss like this. All Ohio State can do now is win out — and blow out an unbeaten Wisconsin in the league title game like 2014 — and hope that enough chaos has broken out across the country that a two-loss team might get a look from the committee. But after how bad the Buckeyes looked in Iowa City, would even that be enough?
Iowa: Where in the world did this come from, Iowa? The Hawkeyes had scored just 27 points in their previous two games against Northwestern and Minnesota. But weird things happen in Kinnick Stadium in November — and Iowa just changed the narrative of its entire season thanks to an afternoon Hawkeyes fans will never forget. “We’ve played like a young team for eight weeks,” Ferentz said. “When we hit adversity, which we knew was coming, we pushed past it.”