Game Day: Nebraska vs. Iowa

Staking a claim to win No. 9

The weight of nine wins has been debated, but there's no doubt that a "W" vs. Iowa would be big for NU coach Bo Pelini. Nearly 50 Nebraska teams have won at least nine games since 1962, Bob Devaney's first season. Pelini has won at least nine games in each of his first five seasons, a mark the Huskers can reach again with a win over the Hawkeyes on Friday.

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2-Minute Drill by Jon Nyatawa

Nebraska rush offense vs. Iowa rush defense

There are only three Big Ten teams that have averaged better than 5 yards per carry so far. NU's one. Iowa's faced the other two already -- Ohio State and Wisconsin each ran for more than 200 yards. Iowa's given up just six rushing plays of 20-plus yards (tied for ninth nationally). But then again, the Hawkeyes haven't faced Ameer Abdullah yet. Advantage: Nebraska

Nebraska pass offense vs. Iowa pass defense

NU has taken a low-risk approach in the passing game in two matchups against Iowa, throwing 36 times and averaging 6.3 yards on those plays. The Hawks rank 11th nationally in passing yards allowed (180.9 per game). And only 10 throws have gone for more than 30 yards against Iowa (tied for seventh nationally). NU may not take many chances. Advantage: Iowa

Iowa rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Not counting the sack yardage, NU has allowed 4.4 yards per carry in league action. They've given up more rushing touchdowns (13) during that stretch than all but three Big Ten defenses. Jordan Canzeri, with 273 yards in the last three games, has emerged to take some of the workload off Mark Weisman's shoulders. Advantage: Iowa

Iowa pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

The Hawks have the reputation for being a run-heavy group, but they run 59.2 percent of the time -- that's 31st nationally. By percentage, they throw more often than NU. But Jake Rudock has thrown nine interceptions in seven Big Ten games. And NU is first in the conference in opponent completion percentage (48.2) during league action. Advantage: Nebraska

Special teams

Iowa has more punt return yards than any other Big Ten team. Junior Kevonte Martin-Manley is averaging 6.7 yards per return in league action. Far better than NU. The Huskers did return a kickoff for a TD last week. And Pat Smith's emerged as a clutch field goal kicker. But NU's special teams units have been largely unreliable all year. Advantage: Iowa

Intangibles

It's Senior Day at Nebraska, so the Huskers will have plenty of reasons to put on a good show. The increased speculation over coach Bo Pelini's job status should motivate the players to perform well, too. Iowa, meanwhile, has a 7-11 record in true road games the past four seasons. The Hawkeyes haven't won in Lincoln since 1943. Advantage: Nebraska

Key matchup: Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz vs. Nebraska's linebackers

Set aside the four long touchdown pass plays of 45-plus yards for Iowa in Big Ten play. Fiedorowicz has been on the receiving end on four of the team's other seven passing scores. Sophomore David Santos will draw the assignment most often, but it'll likely take a team effort to limit the 6-foot-7 pass-catcher.

Nebraska wins if ...

It can generate a couple of big plays on offense to get the crowd involved. The defense has to be stingy in its own territory.

Iowa wins if ...

It wins the field-position battle, capitalizes on mistakes and makes key plays on passing downs.

Our take

It's supposed to be a rivalry, but the series needs some kind of drama. The first two games were competitive, but their slugfest nature drained away at the buzz. Turnovers usually decide these contests, but the Huskers have found a way to overcome their own mistakes all year.

Our prediction: Nebraska 24, Iowa 17

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Video ...

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