Buckeyes survive big scare at Iowa
Fourth down, 10 yards and most likely the season was on the line for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes put the ball in Terrelle Pryor's hands, and Pryor used his legs to help them escape from Iowa with their Rose Bowl hopes intact for another week.
Dan Herron rushed for a 1-yard touchdown with 1:47 left and No. 8 Ohio State rallied to beat Iowa 20-17 Saturday.
Terrelle Pryor threw for 195 yards and a touchdown for the Buckeyes (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten), including a crucial 14-yard run on fourth down to keep the game-winning drive alive.
The win kept Ohio State tied with Wisconsin and Michigan State atop the Big Ten standings heading into next week's showdown with rival Michigan in the Horseshoe.
''I was going to run the whole time,'' Pryor said. ''I found running room, had some good blocking. I just cut it up and went and got the first.''
No. 21 Iowa (7-4, 4-3) went ahead 17-10 early in the fourth quarter on freshman Marcus Coker's 1-yard TD run. But Devin Barclay's 48-yard field goal brought the Buckeyes to 17-13, and Pryor engineered a 76-yard drive despite DeVier Posey's drop of a sure TD pass.
Ricky Stanzi had 195 yards passing and a touchdown for the Hawkeyes, who've let up a game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter of each of their defeats.
The game went to the fourth quarter tied at 10. The Buckeyes blinked first - then rallied behind Pryor for its 12th win in 13 tries over the disappointing Hawkeyes.
Pryor threw an errant ball over the middle that was tipped, picked off by Shaun Prater and returned to the Ohio State 27-yard line. Coker, in for a struggling Adam Robinson, followed a 26-yard run with a 1-yard plunge to put the Hawkeyes ahead 17-10 with 11:53 left.
Barclay pulled Ohio State to 17-13 with a 48-yarder with 7:38 left, and the Buckeyes forced the Hawkeyes into a quick three-and-out.
That's when Pryor redeemed himself.
Posey, who had blown past the coverage, had the ball slip right through his hands with 4:02 left to set up 4th-and-10.
It could have been a crushing play for the Buckeyes, but Ohio State coach Jim Tressel took Pryor aside and got him focused after Posey's frustrating drop.
Pryor scrambled 14 yards to pick up a first down the Buckeyes had to have, and five plays later Herron was in the end zone.
Pryor found Dane Sanzenbacher for 24 yards to the Iowa 2 with 2:49 left, and Herron's touchdown put the Buckeyes ahead for good.
Pryor finished with 78 yards rushing on 15 carries and survived two interceptions.
''It was huge and gave us that momentum,'' Tressel said of Pryor's fourth-down conversion. ''I was afraid he was messing around and wasn't going to get the first, but he made it. ''
Ricky Stanzi's fourth-down pass to Marvin McNutt was stopped just two yards shy of the first down on Iowa's futile final drive.
Coker rushed for 70 yards on just nine carries for Iowa, as Robinson didn't play until the second quarter because of what was called a coach's decision.
Robinson finished with just 27 yards.
Ohio State started the second half by driving 77 yards on 12 plays, and Pryor's 5-yard TD pass to Reid Fragel gave them their first lead, 10-7.
Ohio State had Iowa stopped on the next drive, but Jermale Hines got flagged for drilling McNutt after a 3rd-down incompletion. Michael Meyer's 31-yard field goal made it 10-10 with 3:26 left in the third quarter.
This matchup had long been circled as the biggest of the year in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes and Hawkeyes were picked 1-2 in the league's preseason poll, and Ohio State's 27-24 OT win in Columbus last year had many wondering what might happen when Iowa got Ohio State at home with a healthy Stanzi.
But the Hawkeyes spoiled a lot of the fun by dropping three games by a total of 12 points - including a fourth-quarter meltdown in a 21-17 loss at Northwestern last week - and it was more of the same on Saturday.
''Each of the four losses, they have a lot of similarities,'' McNutt said. ''It just comes down to who makes the plays in the fourth quarter.''
Iowa opened the scoring late in the first quarter on Stanzi's 19-yard TD pass to McNutt.
Ohio State answered by driving to Iowa's 1-yard line, but the Buckeyes had to settle for Devin Barclay's 18-yard field goal after Pryor's off-balance, underhanded completion to Zach Boren was stuffed short.
Meyer missed a 40-yard field goal wide left late in the first half. But Pryor, who'd been flirting with danger the entire first half, floated a long ball toward the end zone that was picked off one-handed by Micah Hyde.