Mitch Sherman, ESPN Staff Writer 21d

Iowa routs Ohio State to squash the Buckeyes' playoff path



IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Say goodbye to Ohio State.

The Buckeyes aren't going to the College Football Playoff this season. Not after a stunning 55-24 loss on Saturday at Iowa, a loss that included the most points allowed by an Urban Meyer-coached Ohio State team.

Not even the CFP committee, which in its three-year history has vaulted the Buckeyes over another Power 5 champion on the final week in 2014 and picked Ohio State when it failed to play for the Big Ten title last season, can save Meyer this time.

Iowa blitzed the sixth-ranked Buckeyes (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten), scoring on Amani Hooker's pick-six of J.T. Barrett on the first play from scrimmage, then running away from Ohio State in the second half behind a storm of offense from QB Nathan Stanley and his tight ends, who caught four touchdowns.

Stanley threw for 226 of Iowa's 244 passing yards, and the Hawkeyes rushed for 243.

Barrett was intercepted four times for the first time in his career, topping the three thrown against Virginia Tech in 2014, his second college start. Ohio State lost for just the second time in 21 November games and 28 road games under Meyer, its sixth-year coach.

As night fell at Kinnick Stadium, the black-clad crowd whipped itself into a frenzy. Iowa (6-3, 3-3) dominated the second half, holding the Buckeyes scoreless until the game had long since been decided and holding them to 123 yards in the final two quarters.

When it ended, Iowa fans rushed the field in celebration.

The signature moment came late in the third quarter, as Iowa, up by two touchdowns, lined up for a field goal on fourth-and-3 from the Ohio State 20. The Hawkeyes shifted into a bizarre formation that featured six men lined up wide to the left.

Colten Rastetter, the Iowa holder and punter, took the snap from Tyler Kluver, the long-snapper, who then ran free and caught a pass from Rastetter, tripping after an 18-yard gain to the 3.

Stanley hit T.J. Hockenson in the end zone on the next play. Just like that, the rout was on.

Ohio State, a week after coming back from 18 points down to beat Penn State, had no miracle rally in store on Saturday.

The visit to Iowa began on an extra-ominous note for Ohio State and Barrett. The senior QB, who completed 16 straight throws and a school-record 33 passes last week, threw into tight coverage to open the game. Hooker sprinted 30 yards to give the Hawkeyes a lead after eight seconds.

So long to Barrett's streak of 190 throws without an interception. So long to his stretch of 22 touchdown passes without a pick, the second longest in the FBS during a single season in the past decade.

Still, the Buckeyes answered with a six-play, 80-yard march to tie it. As the pace remained quick throughout the first half, indicators appeared to favor Ohio State, which averaged 46.3 points -- second nationally -- coming in, far exceeding Iowa's 25 points per game.

But Iowa broke a 17-17 tie with an 89-yard drive late in the first half, capped by Stanley's 25-yard strike to tight end Noah Fant. Then a disjointed possession for the Buckeyes was thwarted, as cornerback Joshua Jackson intercepted Barrett. Iowa cashed the turnover into another Stanley-to-Fant touchdown.

Suddenly it was 31-17, the most points allowed by Ohio State in a first half since Florida scored 34 in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game en route to a national title. Meyer coached that Gators team.

A clear path remains for Ohio State to win the Big Ten title. As for the playoff, it will require chaos unseen in the first three years of this system. And even that likely wouldn't do it.

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