Three things we learned and three things we still don’t know

Luke Mullin offers his perspective of Nebraska’s 24-17 win over Iowa on Friday in Iowa City.

LINCOLN — Three things we’ve learned and three things we still don’t know about the Huskers, who emerged from Friday’s win over the Hawkeyes.

Three things we know

One of the largest NU low-pass links: Thompson-to-Palmer

The duo met for an 87-yard touchdown on Friday that silenced a celebratory crowd at Kinnick Stadium. Palmer worked one-on-one against a freshman corner and burned right past him. Thompson placed it perfectly, and the race – which Palmer always wins – was on. Thompson has also met Palmer on 71- and 62-yard touchdown passes this season. There’s little substitute for Palmer’s speed, which is one of the reasons he set the single-season record for yardage.

Iowa’s offense is terrible indeed — but the defense can be bad, too

People also read…

While it’s true that 17 of Nebraska’s points came from three fumbles — two quarterback strip sacks and a muffed punt — Iowa’s defense showed clear weaknesses against NU’s spread-passing attack. Thompson had just enough time to find Palmer and Marcus Washington, who were struggling to mark for the Iowa cornerbacks. NU’s offensive line also protected Thompson better than expected.

A new coach can quickly turn the tide in this rivalry

NU had four, five, three, and three wins in the 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons, and each time it brought very good teams from Iowa to the finals. Then, on Friday, when Nebraska released the first 24 points of the game, the 10-point favorites weren’t the Hawkeyes. The gap between these programs is both tiny and significant: Iowa gains a lot more than Nebraska. But that doesn’t mean NU can’t win much more than the Hawkeyes – very soon.

Three things we still don’t know

We think we know who, but when?

We seem to have a pretty good idea by now of who Nebraska’s first choice manager might be: Matt Rhule. When will the news of NU’s new manager officially come out and when could this guy – probably Rhule – be announced? That is the question to be answered. If it’s Rhule, Sunday or Monday – after a Thanksgiving holiday – seems like a reasonable answer. Anyone other than Rhule could be a few more days.

Will Mickey stay with us in 2023?

The Husker interim coach has plenty of influence in the NU locker room and has built much of Nebraska’s current recruit class. Any new coach resigns from Joseph at their own risk. Of course, if Joseph isn’t the permanent head coach, it’s not his vision that NU will follow. Nebraska can’t meddle too much here — if Joseph is a good fit, great, and if not, he and the Huskers will go their separate ways. (It would be good if he was fit though.)

What happens if Casey Thompson doesn’t get hurt?

Will Nebraska Beat Illinois? (We don’t think so.) Minnesota (Yes.) Michigan? (Nope.) Wisconsin? (While Thompson was playing, he was also rusty.) Thompson proved to be NU’s best addition to the transfer portal after Palmer. NU got the quarterback right in the offseason. If only the Huskers could protect No. 11 better.