Game Day: Nebraska vs. Iowa

Lost in the maze

At Iowa and at Nebraska, players and coaches began the year with their eyes on a championship, outwardly expressing their objective and internally building a belief that they were set to break through. But that dream is gone, and the Huskers and Hawkeyes are right back where they were last year, struggling to find a way out of a maze of mediocrity. Both programs know where they want to be. They just haven’t found recently a way to get there.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

Nebraska rush offense vs. Iowa rush defense

The Huskers have gone three straight games without a 200-yard team effort, dropping to No. 14 nationally in rushing offense (256.2 yards). That has coincided with the injury to I-back Ameer Abdullah, but includes running into stout running defenses with Wisconsin and Minnesota. Iowa is closer to the Gophers than the Badgers, allowing 158.5 yards per game and 4.2 per carry. Abdullah said he is getting healthier each week, so maybe that can make a difference here.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Iowa pass defense

Tommy Armstrong regained his touch against Minnesota after completing a combined 14 of 39 passes in the prior two games. Still, his season completion percentage is at 52.4, the running game isn’t adding the diversion it was before, and Nebraska finished its last game without all-time leading receiver Kenny Bell. The Hawkeyes haven’t allowed an opponent to hit 150 passing yards since Maryland reached 206 on Oct. 18.

Iowa rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Iowa has to be licking its chops after watching Wisconsin and Minnesota absolutely shred NU the last two weeks, but it also has its own issues. Since midseason the Hawkeyes have had games where they managed just 116 rushing yards against Maryland, 84 against Minnesota and 101 against Wisconsin — and they rarely break the big ones. Somebody needs to win here, and maybe the Huskers regain some of the success they had earlier in the season.

Iowa pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

The Hawkeye air attack is probably more efficient than pretty, but that might be all it takes Friday if they can avoid mistakes. Jake Rudock is completing 64.2 percent of his throws, with 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Nebraska is holding opponents to the lowest completion rate in the Big Ten (47.3 percent) and has more interceptions (11) than passing TDs allowed (10). But the Huskers have been falling victim to some timely throws.

Special teams

NU ranks ahead of Iowa in net punting, kickoff coverage and punt returns. The Huskers also swung the Minnesota game last week with a blocked field goal that they returned for a touchdown. Both teams have missed five field goals. The difference might be Nebraska having De’Mornay Pierson-El on punt returns and Sam Foltz punting.

Intangibles

The visiting team has won the last two years, but the Huskers aren’t exactly arriving in Iowa City with momentum or self-confidence. The two have gone a combined 0-4 against Wisconsin and Minnesota (each with an embarrassing blowout) so it comes down to pride and bowl placement. Both have negative turnover margins, but Iowa is one of the least penalized teams in the nation, has fewer injury questions and is bidding farewell to its seniors.

Key matchup: Iowa's Brandon Scherff vs. Nebraska's Randy Gregory

Two of the Big Ten’s best will cross paths from time to time Friday when Iowa left tackle Brandon Scherff gets matched up with Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory. Scherff, a senior from Denison, Iowa, has battled a knee injury but started the season with All-America and Outland Trophy attention. Gregory, a junior from Fishers, Indiana, also had September knee trouble but has rebounded with seven sacks, 10 tackles for losses and 16 quarterback hurries.

Our take

The Hawkeyes’ defense has held Nebraska to 288 and 263 total yards in the previous two meetings and forced five turnovers, although the 2012 game at Kinnick Stadium was played in some severe wind and cold. But if Nebraska doesn’t have Bell to stretch the field and Abdullah at his most dangerous level, it will put an awful lot on the shoulders of Armstrong. Iowa is coming off a spirited effort against Wisconsin, and if it can maintain the better focus and wear out the Huskers that could result in the difference.

Our prediction: IOWA 21, NEBRASKA 20

Live updates

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Game Day

Videos

Extras

Live: TBL pregame, postgame

"The Bottom Line" pregame show with Mike’l Severe will broadcast live Friday at 9:30 a.m., then tune in after the game for a complete breakdown and call-in show. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Iowa game provided by the Huskers athletic department. Click here »

Husker History

Find information on every win, loss and tie in Husker history. With historical World-Herald front pages, photos, stories, key stats and more, our ever-growing Husker History page is your new home for taking a look back into the history of one of the nation's most tradition-rich programs.Click here »

On social media

Check out the Big Red Today page on Facebook to discuss the latest news with the top Husker fans, and follow us on Twitter to get instant updates and analysis whenever news breaks.

BRT app

iPhone and Android users, get your Husker updates on the go by downloading our free Big Red Today app from the App Store and the Google Play store. Omaha.com/BRTapp and Omaha.com/android

Recruiting updates

Visit the Big Red Today recruiting page to find the latest updates on potential future Huskers, including player cards for those athletes already committed. Click here »

Email alerts

Sign up for the Big Red Today email newsletter to get the Husker news, analysis, daily headlines and more delivered to your inbox. Click here »

Big Ten coverage

Look for additional updates on our Big Ten page to get the best coverage of the conference from both The World-Herald and some of the best writers from across the country. Click here »

Big Red Today coverage

Second quarter a perfect display of Nebraska's inconsistency

Nebraska’s season can be summed in the second quarter Saturday.

Barfknecht's Big Ten rankings, Nov. 20

World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten football teams, as published in The World-Herald on Nov. 20.

McKewon: Even with little help, Tanner Lee looks like pro prospect

If Joe Ganz deserved credit for making the very end of the Bill Callahan era mildly enjoyable, so does Tanner Lee, especially one week after a concussion.

Carriker Chronicles: If not Scott Frost, who else could be coaching the Huskers next year?

All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Sunday's episode, Carriker evaluates who else could be on Nebraska's radar if Scott Frost goes a different route.

Barfknecht: NU's struggling defense vs. Iowa's struggling offense — tickets won't fly off the shelf

Interest might be higher in seeing how many fans show up — and what the red and white vs. black and gold mix is — than the outcome of Iowa and Nebraska's game on Black Friday.

Amid disappointing season, Husker fans are no longer glued to the tube

On Saturday, longtime Husker fans were picking up groceries at Walmart or Christmas shopping at Westroads Mall instead of settling into the couch in front their flat screen TVs.

The price of failure: Husker football’s 3-year revolving door may cost $16.4 million in payouts to coaches, A.D.

If and when Riley is replaced, UNL will be paying three current and former football coaches and two athletic directors, all at once.

Pride in Lions’ Den: Down 32 at half to Penn State, Huskers get consolation with five second-half TDs

The Blackshirts gave up more than 50 points in a game for the third time this season as Nebraska suffered its seventh loss of the year in a 56-44 defeat Saturday at Penn State.

Shatel: Tanner Lee's performance makes you wonder, 'What if?'

There’s one more game left to play this season, maybe one more game left in Tanner Lee’s limited Nebraska career. But it’s hard to imagine this not being a snapshot we keep of Lee and store wherever it is we’ll…

Husker notes: Tanner Lee productive in return; Off-field distractions; Another fourth-down call

In a way, it’s lucky. Because at this point in the season, the quarterbacks don’t throw much during practice.

Penn State's dominant second quarter means all smiles in Happy Valley

Penn State coach James Franklin didn't fret about letting Nebraska score 34 second-half points in PSU's 56-44 victory over the Huskers. Too many things went right.

Tom's Takes: Lack of buzz for Nebraska-Iowa; Saquon Barkley's brilliance; Mike Riley wouldn't force Tanner Lee to play

Three quick takes by World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel following Nebraska's 56-44 loss to Penn State on Saturday.

Saquon Barkley reignites Heisman Trophy campaign as Penn State offense 'snowballs' past Husker defense

Nebraska's hopes didn't end the first time Saquon Barkley sped through defenders Saturday afternoon. But it surely was a sign that the Heisman Trophy campaign for the Penn State running back was about to be in full revival.

Stanley Morgan moves within 31 yards of breaking Johnny Rodgers' Nebraska receiving record

Stanley Morgan not only pushed his season total above 900 yards, but he also now sits 30 yards behind Johnny Rodgers’ 1972 school record for receiving yards in a season.

Game replay: Penn State 56, Nebraska 44

Four keys from Nebraska's 56-44 loss to Penn State on Saturday, including a peculiar play, a questionable call and more.

Nebraska-Penn State: Tracking the offense, defense

World-Herald staff writer Evan Bland takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' 56-44 loss to Penn State.

From the sidelines: Rain didn't hinder Penn State's offense, but it did keep fans away

Rain played havoc with everything but the game itself as Penn State dismantled Nebraska Saturday on a soggy Beaver Stadium field.

Nebraska-Penn State: Five things we learned, still don't know

Five things we learned and five things we still don’t know about the Huskers coming out of Saturday's loss to Penn State.

Carriker Chronicles: Gut reaction to Nebraska's loss at Penn State

All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Saturday's episode, Carriker gives his gut reaction to the Huskers' loss against the Nittany Lions.

Video: Husker postgame press conference

Watch video highlights from Nebraska's postgame press conference following the loss to Penn State.

Shatel: Penn State can show Nebraska how brighter days follow darkest times

It will be a Penn State party, a celebration of a revival, of perseverance. A hapless Nebraska bunch is being served as the main course. But if NU Athletic Director Bill Moos, the coaches, players and fans look around to…

Times are changing: Penn State has elevated, Nebraska has sunk since last meeting four years ago

The programs, similar in their insularity and love of tradition, couldn’t be further apart at this moment. Nebraska has won all three Big Ten games against the Nittany Lions, including two in Happy Valley; that’s almost certain to change starting…

Barfknecht: Badgers’ defense covers up offensive shortcomings; plus Big Ten picks

Wisconsin is the darling of college football’s “defense wins championships” crowd. Under first-year coordinator Jim Leonhard, the Badgers are No. 1 nationally in total defense (247.6 yards), No. 1 in rushing defense (81.5 yards), No. 1 in pass efficiency defense…

Carriker Chronicles: Losses are one thing, but lack of passion is unacceptable

All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Friday's episode, Carriker discusses what is irking him the most beyond the losses — NU's lack of passion.

Offensive struggles have highlighted need for Huskers' offense, defense to work in harmony

Coach Mike Riley calls it a formula: The pace at which an offense plays and how that relates to the defense, and in turn, how the defense relates to the offense by getting stops and turnovers.

Despite Scott Frost's pedigree, nobody saw this fast of a start coming at UCF for former Husker

As Scott Frost walked into the interview in 2015, the men before him knew his credentials. But several candidates for the Central Florida job had been head coaches. Frost had not. His interview was critical.

Carriker Chronicles: JD Spielman talks about his record-breaking season, being adopted and more

All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Thursday's episode, Carriker talks to NU freshman JD Spielman about his record-breaking season, moving up the depth chart, finding out that he was adopted and more.

Mick Stoltenberg will take the mic to motivate his team

Mick Stoltenberg's deep voice booms like a megaphone through walls inside Memorial Stadium

Nebraska could come calling, but Scott Frost already 'walks on water' in his Magic Kingdom

Scott Frost’s choice is more complicated than salaries or trophies or conference affiliation. It really boils down to this: Does he covet tradition or imagination? Does the new dad want to save something old or build something new?

Carriker Chronicles: Would Scott Frost be a good match for Nebraska?

All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Wednesday's episode, Carriker talks about former Husker and UCF coach Scott Frost and if he would be the best candidate for any potential job openings at Nebraska.