Final scores and stats can lie. Oftentimes they are not an accurate reflection of a game that was much closer — or not as close — as the numbers suggest.
That was not the case on Nov. 4 in Iowa City when Iowa's 31-point demolition of Ohio State was just as bad as it looked on paper.
Compare: CFB Teams | CFB Players
Entering the season, the highest margin of loss for a playoff participant was 14 points, set by the Buckeyes with a loss to Virginia Tech in 2014. Ohio State can break that record — twice — if they earn the No. 4 playoff seed over Alabama. They lost to Oklahoma by 15 points, 31-16, at home in September, and on the road to Iowa by 31, 55-24.
That latter game — the largest margin of defeat for Ohio State in a conference game since 1994 — sits at the center of a violent College Football Playoff debate. And while everyone can agree it's a vomit-inducing loss, it's important to dive deeper than the score, which is exactly what the committee will do.
MORE: Meyer Needs to Pick a Lane on Recruiting Gripes
Both teams were healthy. Neither limped into the game with a slew of notable injuries. The Buckeyes get no help there, nor do they get help anywhere else.
They were in position to win — or at least not lose by 31 points — early in the second quarter when J.T. Barrett connected with Johnnie Dixon on a 44-yard touchdown pass with 10 minutes remaining to tie the game at 17-17. And they actually got the ball back and could've taken a lead. Instead they punted midway through the second quarter and never had the ball in a tie game again.
Iowa scored twice in the final five minutes of the half and entered the break with 31 points on 255 yards of offense. They shut out the Buckeyes in the third quarter (7-0) — while allowing just 13 total yards and forcing three punts — and outscored them 17-7 in the final frame, thanks to two forced turnovers and only one drive of more than four plays.
The final numbers are very accurate of the embarrassment that it was. Iowa had 487 total yards to Ohio State's 371. They forced four turnovers and committed zero. The Buckeyes also had nine penalties, went 4-for-10 on third down and averaged fewer yards per pass attempt (6.1) than Iowa averaged per rushing attempt (6.4). They allowed an Iowa offense that finished in the bottom third of the country in most offensive categories to run past, around and over them.
The loss only got worse after Nov. 4. The Hawkeyes were smoked by Wisconsin and lost at home to Purdue, during which they had fewer combined points and yards in both games than in one game vs. Ohio State.
So yes, Ohio State's 31-point loss to Iowa was that bad. (And I was kind by not including any film of the game.)