Ohio native Anthony Hitchens of Iowa is looking forward to his first visit ever to Ohio Stadium this weekend and the Buckeyes are looking for ways to move the ball against the Iowa defense, all part of today’s Hawkeye 10@10, a daily feature at Hawkmania.com.
Here is your daily 10 a.m. dose of Hawkeye news and notes:
1. Hawkeye linebacker Anthony Hitchens grew up in Ohio, but will be stepping into Ohio Stadium for the first time on Saturday.
The senior who ranks second in the Big Ten in tackles attended a camp at Ohio State’s practice facility but that is as close as he has gotten to The Horseshoe.
“They didn’t recruit me, but things worked out fine,’’ Hitchens said. “It will be good to go back there this weekend and compete. I’m looking forward to that.’’
2. Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers has spent the past two weeks looking for ways to move the football against Iowa.
He knows as well as anybody what he’s getting into, given his first job in college football by current Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis when Davis was working at Tulane.
“I’ve known Greg for 20-some years and he has not changed a whole lot. He’s a zone run guy who fits exactly with what I have been in the past,’’ Withers said.
“He’s going to get in one back, two back, run the zone and run the zone and then play-action pass off it. On third down, get in three wide receivers, a tight end and use the tight end to work your Mike linebacker. That is what he does and it hasn’t changed, so we have to stop the run, the zone run game. They have backs that are capable, hard runners and a tough, physical offensive line.’’
3. Big Ten schedules announced Wednesday will leave Saturday’s game as Iowa’s last visit to Ohio Stadium until at least 2020.
Divisional realignment and conference expansion have changed the way the schedule fits together and after Saturday, the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes will not meet again during the regular season until Ohio State visits Kinnick Stadium in 2017. After that, they will not play again in 2018 or 2019.
Coach Kirk Ferentz is simply taking things as they come.
“I could argue that it takes something away from the players (to not have the chance to play one of the Big Ten’s traditional powers for that period of time), but I could argue that it takes something away from the players to not be able to go home for Thanksgiving. They’ll never see that again,’’ Ferentz said.
“It’s the same thing with expansion. It’s a different world. Like it. Don’t like it. It doesn’t matter because you have to deal with it. That’s kind of the way it is.’’
4. Putting points on the board hasn’t been an issue for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes average 46.8 points per game. That leads the Big Ten and ranks sixth nationally.
“They have a lot of ways to get to the end zone and it’s something we have to be ready for,’’ Iowa safety John Lowdermilk said. “It’s a very potent offense, as good of one as we’ve seen this season in the number of ways they can test a defense.’’
5. Two former coaches and administrators at Big Ten schools were named Wednesday to the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez and Nebraska’s Tom Osborne are among 13 members chosen by the College Football Playoff Management Committee, the commissioners of the conferences overseeing the new four-team playoff which begins at the end of the 2014 season.
Jeff Long, the director of athletics at Arkansas, will chair the group.
6. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is looking for more explosive play from his team.
“I think we are not as explosive as some of the teams out there. I feel like we have some work to do in that area, that we need to become more of that type of a team,’’ Meyer said.
7. The quickness that Ohio State’s defense brings to the table stands out in the mind of Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock.
“They’re fast. We’ll have our hands full,’’ Rudock said. “They do a good job of swarming to the ball and we’ll have to have a good week of preparation to be ready for them.’’
8. Pass defense was under the microscope as Ohio State practiced during the bye week.
Coach Urban Meyer said he saw too many holes as the Buckeyes concentrated their efforts on slowing the run game of Wisconsin and Northwestern in Ohio State’s most recent games.
“The underneath coverage is something we’ve addressed,’’ Meyer said. “We really spent a lot of energy and focus on the run game, and stopping the run game, and my challenge to them is without sacrificing that how do we get the that same focus stopping the pass game. Last week, we did several things that we are going to continue this week.’’
9. Discipline among defensive players in the Iowa lineup leaves a definite impression on Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton.
“We know where they are going to get lined up, but we are going to have to be very, very smart on running our receivers through their zones because they are a very physical football team,’’ Drayton said. “Usually you get the receivers on the move a lot more versus teams that play man coverage when you’re trying to separate and create some space and things of that sort.
“Wisconsin does what Iowa does a little bit, so it was really just calling the right play at the right time.’’
10. The National I-Club and UI Alumni Association will host a Hawkeye Huddle in Columbus prior to Saturday’s Iowa game at Ohio State.
The event will run from 12:30-2:30 p.m. (ET) at The Fawcett Center, 2400 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, and is open to the public at no charge. Appearances by Herky and the Iowa cheerleaders are scheduled and as always, door prizes will be given away and complimentary snacks and cash refreshments will be available.