WHO: Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-8, 2-6 Big Ten)
IF: 3:01pm CT (Friday, November 25)
WHERE: Kinnick Stadium (Iowa City, IA)
CLAIMERS: Brandon Gaudin, Jake Butt and Rick Pizo
RADIO: Hawkeye Radio Network (TuneIn or local lists) | SiriusXM Ch. 138 or 195 (c. 957)
MOBILE PHONE: Fox Sports app
Twitter: @IowaFBLive | @IowaAwesome | @IowaOnBTN
WEATHER: Temps in the low 50’s, mostly clear
LINE: ALSO Iowa -10.5 (Total: 38.5)
NOTE: Don’t forget to follow all the action throughout the game and chat with your Iowa fans on the Go Iowa Awesome Discord! (More info here.)
Only one thing stands between Iowa and a second straight trip to the Big Ten Championship Game: the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Huskers, as always, are not very good this season. They’re only 3-8 overall and 2-6 in Big Ten play. They gave Northwestern their only win of the season. Their only Big Ten wins came against Indiana (another contender for worst team in the Big Ten) and Rutgers.
And yet…Nebraska suffered single-point losses to Purdue, Minnesota and Wisconsin. (Even without Scott Frost, their tight game karma has remained poor.) The Huskers should have quarterback Casey Thompson back under center after missing a couple of weeks (he was 12/20 for 106 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT against Wisconsin last ). Week). They also have the advantage of having nothing to lose and an opportunity to spoil the Iowa season.
What does Iowa have to do to avoid being spoiled?
Limit big plays. Junior wide receiver Trey Palmer, an LSU transfer, has definitely shown some explosive potential — he caught both touchdowns against Wisconsin last week and had monster games against Purdue (7 receptions, 237 yards, 2 TD) and Indiana (8 receptions, 157 yards). , 1 TD). Limiting big plays is always a focus of Iowa’s defense, and this unit was particularly good at it — the Hawkeyes have allowed just 22 plays from 20+ yards (best in the nation) and 8 plays from 30+ yards (also tops) nationally ).
Control the ground game. Iowa and Nebraska weren’t particularly proficient at leading the ball this year, especially in Big Ten play — Iowa is 12th (95.8 ypg) while Nebraska is 13th (95.6 ypg). Iowa also had its worst run defense in several years, conceding a staggering 312 yards against Minnesota last week. However, Nebraska doesn’t appear quite as equipped to smash through Iowa’s defenses as the Gophers did a week ago. There is no Mo Ibrahim caliber running back in this backfield, nor is the Husker offensive line as big or as talented as the Minnesota line. On the other hand, Iowa will get a chance to face off against one of the Big Ten’s most accommodating run defenses, as Nebraska sits bottom in the overall conference against run (195 ypg, 4.6 ypc). Those numbers were better in league play — but still not quite great (178 ypg, 10th in the Big Ten; 4.1 ypc, 9th). This is a defensive front that Kaleb Johnson & Co. should continue with some success.
Win the sales battle. Another area of the game Iowa tries to win on a regular basis anyway, but one that should favor Iowa in this matchup as well. Iowa has +7 sales this year (20 forced, 13 given away), while Nebraska has a sales margin of -6 (12 forced, 18 given away). For Big Ten games, Iowa’s revenue margin is even better (+8), while Nebraska’s is flat (-6). In their last four games (all Iowa wins), the Hawkeyes have just one turnover (a losing fumble against Wisconsin) and force eight turnovers (including six interceptions). Nebraska has been a lot cleaner in the revenue department lately (only one lost revenue in their last three games, one interception vs. Minnesota), but the Huskers haven’t forced many giveaways lately either (only one takeaway in three games, one interception vs Wisconsin last week). Bringing Thompson back to quarterback may not bode well in the revenue department either — while he avoided interceptions against Wisconsin last week, he had at least one interception in six of the other eight games he’s played in this season — and in he had two interceptions each in four of those six games. In other words, he’s a quarterback who will make some erroneous throws and poor decisions — which could be very good news for an opportunistic Iowa secondary.
Take advantage of dedicated teams. Nebraska has been consistently terrible under Scott Frost in the Special Team game, and while it hasn’t been quite as bad this season, Iowa should still have some advantages in that area. Nebraska has one punt return touchdown this season (against Indiana), but the Huskers have also failed to return a punt in 9 of 11 games this year. Iowa has a Big Ten-best 260 punt return yards and is consistently trying to gain yards and improve field position through the return game. Cooper DeJean has proven particularly adept at helping Iowa gain yardage in this way since taking on punt return duties a few weeks ago. Nebraska has a solid punter (Brian Buschini averages 44.5 yards per punt, fourth best in the Big Ten) and a field kicker (Timmy Bleekrode is 8/10 in field goals this season), but you’d probably still pick Iowa Advantage give those areas with Tory Taylor and Drew Stevens.
This is an Iowa team that’s very hungry: They want back-to-back Big Ten West championships. These Hawkeyes want a trip back to the Big Ten Championship Game. And they want another opportunity to play either Michigan or Ohio State. Things could have gone very sideways this season after that three-part losing streak in October; Instead, Iowa was able to win and grind out four straight wins. It’s rarely been pretty, thanks to an often sporadic offense that has to be a key off-season focus no matter what happens in the rest of the season, but behind a stellar defense and offense that nailed it only Enough, Iowa has found a winning, albeit unconventional, recipe for success. I expect the defense to keep Nebraska buttoned up relatively well (especially on the ground, where Iowa’s front seven should be eager to atone for last week’s poor performance) and force the Huskers to make some mistakes. I think offense this week will have more flashes of competence against softer defense, especially in ground play. And I think there will probably be a special team or two going to Iowa as well. Add it all up and what do you get?
IOWA 23, NEBRASKA 13