IOWA CITY — It was one of those daffy, delirious days that defies description. The form chart took the day off. Probability took a holiday. A whole regiment of reason was AWOL on Military Appreciation Day.
Iowa threw passes to fullbacks and long snappers. It ran a fake field goal. It used a fake punt when it had a 31-point lead. There were four touchdown passes to tight ends. Josh Jackson had three interceptions all by himself.
The Hawkeyes scored more points against the No. 3 team in the country than they did against Illinois and North Texas State. They scored more in one game than they did against Minnesota, Northwestern and Michigan State combined.
And Nathan Stanley thoroughly, totally, completely outplayed what some people thought was the best quarterback in the country.
It all added up to a 55-24 Iowa victory over Ohio State that undoubtedly had observers all over the country saying “Wait a minute, that score can’t be right."
Amid all the possible explanations for what took place on the field, this was undeniable: Stanley, Iowa’s work-in-progress sophomore quarterback, played great. And J.T. Barrett, Ohio State’s ballyhooed senior QB, did not.
If you had walked into Kinnick Stadium on Saturday and watched the game without any previous knowledge and were told that one of the two quarterbacks was a major Heisman Trophy candidate, you would have nodded in agreement. Absolutely. That Stanley kid is a stud.
You never would have guessed that Barrett had been involved in 42 more touchdowns than any other player in Ohio State history. Or that he hadn’t thrown an interception in almost two months. Or that he had completed his last 16 passes in succession coming into the game.
As it is, Barrett went from Heisman hopeful to Heisman hopeless in the matter of a few hours, completing barely half his passes and serving up four interceptions.
That wasn’t the whole story of Iowa’s stunning upset, but it was a big chunk of it.
It all began to go south for Barrett on the first play of the game. He fired a pass into the right flat that Iowa safety Amani Hooker caught on the dead run going in the opposite direction. Thirty yards later, he was in the end zone. Fourteen seconds off the clock and Iowa had a 7-0 lead.
Hooker said the Hawkeyes were in man-to-man defense, and he didn’t really have any specific responsibilities.
"It’s a route concept they’ve run before so once I saw it I knew where I could help out," he said.
"I think it was very important," he added. "It helped give everyone energy, gave the fans energy, got them involved. I think it helped out a lot."
It all just sort of snowballed from there. Barrett threw another interception later in the first half, by the omnipresent Jackson, and Iowa took advantage of that to open a 31-17 halftime lead.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he wasn’t entirely sure why Barrett suddenly was throwing to the wrong team.
"I can’t see much down there," Meyer said. "I hear what’s going on from upstairs, and they were baiting him. They were playing between two receivers. That’s their coverage, and we just didn’t play very well."
We don’t know what Barrett thought. He was not made available to the media after the game.
Ohio State trotted out only two players for interviews, both linemen who had sort of dazed expressions.
Defensive end Tyquan Lewis used phrases like "punch in the gut," "feeling of embarrassment" and "sick to your stomach" to describe the day.
It actually got worse in the second half.
Barrett was picked by Jackson two more times, and Stanley, who probably won’t get a single Heisman vote this season, did his best Ben Roethlisberger imitation on a third-quarter play that Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said was his favorite.
The sophomore stood in the pocket searching for a receiver while Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard tugged on his leg, trying to get him to the ground. Stanley paid him no notice as he flipped the fourth of his five touchdown passes, to tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Stanley probably came as close as anyone to explaining the inexplicability of the crazy game. While Ohio State undoubtedly had a letdown following a huge victory over Penn State, the Hawkeyes were loose and relaxed, knowing no one expected them to be competitive against an alleged juggernaut.
"You play your best when you’re having fun," Stanley said. "Not that I haven’t had fun all year. But when you can go out and play loose and not worry about the consequences, that’s when you play your best."