The No. 9-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes hit the road for the fourth and final time this season on Saturday as they travel to Iowa.
Following a slow start to last week’s contest against Penn State, OSU coach Jim Tressel and his players said they look to fix mistakes heading into Iowa.
“I think for us it’s just important that we come out ready to go and not flat like Wisconsin or this last weekend,” senior kicker Devin Barclay said. “I think we do our best when we come out ready to play and we set the tone right away.”
Tressel said the Buckeyes know exactly what to expect from the Hawkeyes.
“They do what they do and they do it so well,” Tressel said. “They’re very, very physical at what they do, and the schemes back that.”
Revenge for the Hawkeyes
Last year, with a trip to the 2010 Rose Bowl on the line for both squads, the Buckeyes escaped with a 27-24 overtime victory.
OSU wide receiver DeVier Posey said he expects Iowa to come out eager for revenge.
“I know those guys don’t have amnesia. They remember the last time we went against them,” Posey said. “They probably felt like we slipped away with an easy one, slipped away with a win because Ricky Stanzi got hurt the week before we played them, and the running back got hurt as well, so they … probably feel like they can beat us on their home turf.”
This will be the Buckeyes’ first time playing in Iowa since 2006. Although OSU is familiar with this Iowa team from last year’s game, Tressel said his team will face a tough task in Kinnick Stadium.
“The veterans know what lies ahead because they have played against Iowa,” Tressel said. “I don’t know if any of our guys have played at Iowa City. I don’t know if any of those fifth-year seniors were playing as true freshmen that particular year, but they’re in for a heck of an experience and a heck of a challenge.”
Barclay said he knows little about the atmosphere at Kinnick Stadium, but the game will be challenging, like all road games in the Big Ten.
Special teams key to road success
The Buckeyes have struggled on the road at times this season, with a 2-1 record away from the Horseshoe.
“When you’re on the road, you better play solid in your special teams to give yourselves a chance,” Tressel said. “Now, that doesn’t guarantee anything, but you can almost guarantee that if you play poorly in the special teams that you’re not going to be successful on the road.”
The OSU special teams unit has had its share of ups and downs, but Barclay said he believes the unit is moving in the right direction.
“The kicks were deeper, higher, better,” Barclay said of last week’s special teams performance against Penn State.
Buckeye line vs. Adrian Clayborn
OSU will face one of the premier defensive lines in the nation Saturday in the Hawkeyes, including 2009 first team all-Big Ten performer Adrian Clayborn.
“They’re just very, very powerful and very consistent. In games where you might have a 7-yard run, against them it’s 3,” Tressel said.
Tressel said he has been impressed with his offensive line’s play as of late, but Saturday will be yet another challenge.
He said there are two factors for an effective offense Saturday.
“One is if you can rush the ball effectively and, two, if you end the day and there aren’t sacks, that’s a big deal,” Tressel said. “And to have both of those things come true on Saturday will be a tremendous challenge because these folks get after the passer and they play the run.”