Ohio State sprints past Iowa with second-half scoring surge

COLUMBUS -- C.J. Stroud threw four touchdown passes in the second half as Ohio State pulled away from Iowa and improved to 7-0 with a 54-10 victory.

The second-ranked Buckeyes struggled on offense for the first 30 minutes, but a late defensive score gave them some extra breathing room.

“Iowa does a very, very good job up front,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said. “They can take away so many things in the middle and force you to really throw the ball. We didn’t do as good of a job executing running the ball early on, but we knew that it was going to take time to crack them. That’s just the way they are. I thought we played really good football in the second half there, got a good balance going.”

ExplorePHOTOS: Ohio State vs. Iowa

Iowa’s offense put the Hawkeyes in a hole from the start as Spencer Petras was intercepted by Tanner McCalister on the first play of the game.

The Buckeyes got the ball at the Iowa 29, but they weren’t able to do anything with it and had to settle for a Noah Ruggles 46-yard field goal.

Things weren’t much better for Ohio State on its next possession. In fact, they were much worse as Joe Evans looped around from his defensive end spot and rocked Stroud, who fumbled. Evans scooped up the pigskin and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown to put Iowa on top 7-3.

ExploreFull offense available for Ohio State against Iowa

The Buckeyes answered with a 10-play, 75-yard drive punctuated with a 2-yard touchdown run by Miyan Williams, who cut off a block by fullback Mitch Rossi and eluded an Iowa linebacker to find the end zone.

That set off a field goal fest as Ruggles connected from 35, 49 and 26 yards to push Ohio State’s lead to 19-10.

Iowa also had a 3-pointer in the run, which ended when Ohio State linebacker Tommy Eichenberg returned a Petras interception 15 yards for a touchdown to extend Ohio State’s lead to 26-10 with under four minutes left in the second quarter.

Ohio State pulled away in the third quarter with a pair of Stroud touchdown passes. He overcame an interception on the first play of the second half to come back and hit Marvin Harrison Jr. for a 6-yard touchdown and then found Emeka Egbuka from 13 yards out.

In the fourth quarter, he hit Julian Fleming for a 79-yard touchdown to really put the game out of reach.

Stroud finished his day with a 3-yard bootleg pass to Rossi for another touchdown.

That left the sophomore signal-caller with 286 yards on 20-for-30 passing with an interception.

Stroud entered the day seventh in career passing yards at Ohio State but passed Terrelle Pryor (6,177), Greg Frey (6,316) and Joe Germaine (6,370) to move into fourth place.

Stroud finished the day with 6,458. Next up is St. Henry grad Bobby Hoying, who threw for 7,232 yards from 1992-95.

Fleming led Ohio State with 105 yards on two catches while Egbuka caught six passes for 80 yards and Harrison had seven catches for 67 yards.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who set Ohio State’s single-season and single-game receiving records last year, returned after a three-game absence but exited after catching one pass for seven yards.

Lathan Ransom had eight tackles to lead an Ohio State defense that forced six turnovers.

Next up, Ohio State goes on the road to face Penn State in another noon contest next Saturday.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Ohio State at Penn State, Noon, Fox, 1410

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