Game Day: Nebraska vs. Iowa

Round 12

It’s a big week in the Big Ten. Perhaps one of the most dramatic final weeks in recent memory. Neither divisional champion has been decided, and four games have to be played before the Big Ten title competitors — who play next week in Indianapolis — are known. For Nebraska, the final round comes with, of course, a little bit of adversity and drama. It probably wouldn’t be a Husker game in 2016 without some of that.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Sam McKewon

Nebraska rush offense vs. Iowa rush defense

Iowa has had some some surprisingly leaky moments against the run this season, which is rare for a Hawkeye defense. North Dakota State ran for 239 and Penn State ran for 359. Heck, even Rutgers ran for 193. But Iowa figured something out against Michigan — giving up only 98 yards in that game — and Illinois, where it allowed only 61 yards. The Huskers rank 71st nationally in yards per carry (4.41). The offensive line appears to be healthier than it has been most the season, which is good, but NU needs either that group to be at its very best to help back Terrell Newby, or it needs some kind of running threat from Tommy Armstrong, who's working through a hamstring injury.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Iowa pass defense

The Hawkeyes are allowing opposing quarterbacks just a 51.1 percent completion rate this year. That's pretty meager, and cornerback Desmond King is one of the nation's best. Iowa's zone defense tends to fluster Husker quarterbacks — especially on some of those shorter routes that Iowa's 'backers are good at jumping — so whoever plays quarterback for the Huskers — be it Armstrong, backup Ryker Fyfe or No. 3 quarterback Zack Darlington — has to take care of the ball. NU coaches will be cautious against Iowa's secondary. Right now, the Hawkeyes have the upper hand here.

Iowa rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Iowa will run the ball come hell or Herky the Hawkeye. At times — like 34 yards against North Dakota State or 79 yards against Northwestern or 30 yards against Penn State — Iowa is quite awful at this. But, if the Hawkeyes' defense is playing well, think of these runs — a heavy dose of outside zone and inside zone especially — as effective clock managers and setups to longer, play-action throws. Nebraska's defensive scheme aims to swarm the run in a way that dissuades teams from doing it, which is why NU only faces 31.64 carries per game. (Alabama faces more.) But, on occasion, the Husker run defense busts and gives up a long run. That happened in last year's game vs. Iowa, when the Hawkeyes carried the ball just 28 times, but gained 153 yards because of runs of 29 and 67 yards for touchdowns.

Iowa pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

This one doesn't bode well for Iowa. The Hawkeyes didn't have a great receiver to start the season, and their best receiver, Matt VandeBerg, is out with an injury. That doesn't leave much for Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard, other than some tight ends and running back Akrum Wadley. Nebraska's coverage this season has been far improved over 2015, and NU's secondary will be up to the task. In Big Ten play, Iowa is averaging 145.8 yards passing. Nebraska should be able to cause some problems for the Hawkeyes here.

Special teams

Here's where King's ability — and Iowa's willingness to use their best play at multiple spots — helps. Iowa is seventh nationally in punt return yards and 11th nationally in kickoff return average because King is a threat in both; against Illinois, it was Riley McCarron who returned punt for a touchdown. Iowa has allowed just seven punts and 17 kickoffs to be returned this season. NU kicker Drew Brown — presuming he can play — has an edge on Iowa freshman Keith Duncan, although Duncan hit the game-winner against Michigan. Iowa has the better special teams bunch coming into this game.

Intangibles

Nebraska has been through about every kind of adversity a team can go through since the last time it played in Iowa City, and it has come out the other end a smarter, tougher team. These seniors seem to welcome the trip to Iowa City, even on a short week, to avenge a loss that ate at them following last season. Iowa's motivation here? To finish strong, with a three-game winning streak, and send out Beathard, one of the program's great quarterbacks, and King, one of the program's great players, the right way. The Hawkeyes are in for a major rebuilding process next season, but they can end this season the way it started: with a lot of potential.

Key matchup: Iowa's running backs vs. Nebraska's defense

If Iowa can't run the ball — if Daniels and Wadley can't break the tackles of Husker defenders — it seems unlikely that Iowa will move the ball with any efficiency. The Hawkeyes may punt 12 times, under those circumstances. But Wadley and Daniels are good at breaking big runs, and they only need a small crease. If they combine for more than 150 yards, Iowa should win this one.

Our take

Don't eat too much leftover turkey for lunch before the 2:30 p.m. kick, because the offenses in this game could make you a little sleepy. Look for a defensive struggle, full of field position and coaching decisions. Big Ten football in November. It does have a rugged beauty to it. By the time the sun sets in Iowa City, it should be a close one.

Our prediction: Nebraska 16, Iowa 14

Live updates

Photos

World-Herald fan photos »

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Iowa matchup provided by the Husker 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 Database is your new home for archiving 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. Plus, look back at historical moments in Nebraska football by following @HuskerHistory on Twitter.

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 Red Today coverage

Nate Stanley and Adrian Martinez are Big Ten rivals, but they 'can also be friends'

Nate Stanley and Adrian Martinez spent perhaps five minutes talking about Black Friday. After that, the Iowa and Nebraska quarterbacks got to know each other and become friends.

At Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, Tom Osborne shows his pride in Scott Frost and Adrian Martinez

Former Nebraska coach and Athletic Director Tom Osborne was honored at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon on Friday afternoon.

Huskers' Jack Stoll makes Mackey Award preseason watch list for best tight end

Nebraska junior Jack Stoll made the preseason watch list for the Mackey Award, which is given to the nation's best tight end.

Adrian Martinez handles turbulence the same way he does interviews — calm, cool and collected

The first session of Big Ten media days included Ohio State and Michigan State, but the story of Day 1 was Adrian Martinez and the Huskers.

Video: Scott Frost, Husker players at Big Ten media days

Scott Frost discussed Nebraska's 2019 expectations, where the Huskers are actively recruiting, Adrian Martinez's leadership and more at Big Ten media days on Thursday.

Shatel: Scott Frost may ignore the hype, but there's a reason it follows him wherever he goes

Nebraska went 4-8 last year, right? You’d never know it by hanging around the Chicago Hilton this week.

'Half of defense is energy, enthusiasm and hustle.' Blackshirts feel they've improved all three

The Blackshirts look back on their first year under Scott Frost and barely recognize the unit that finished among the worst in the country in most major statistical categories.

Big Ten notes: West coaches see improving division; Teams with unproven quarterbacks

Three coaches of Big Ten West schools spoke at Thursday’s Big Ten media days. All agreed their division is unquestionably on the rise.

Husker notes: Hoping for a healthy Cameron Jurgens; Transfers could be impact players

A full-go season from the converted offensive lineman would go a long way for the Huskers.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 19 Kanawai Noa

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Scott Frost says Huskers will 'wait and see' before making decision on Maurice Washington

Nebraska has yet to make a decision on the status of running back Maurice Washington, and coach Scott Frost said that could continue to be the case all the way until the Aug. 31 season opener.

In his final media day, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany touts positive future as he bids farewell

After Delany’s opening statement — dedicated to thanking his family, staff and various partners of the league — reporters had plenty of blue collar, bottom-line questions for the commish.

Former Husker De'Mornay Pierson-El signs for second stint with Oakland Raiders

Pierson-El had previously joined the Raiders for a few weeks in April before getting waived.

UNLV assistant, former Husker Barney Cotton on waiting list for heart transplant

Barney Cotton will not coach for UNLV this season due to health concerns.

Husker football facilities are 'functional' but 'don't fit the mold' of what Scott Frost is building

While the Huskers’ current setup is “perfectly functional,” Frost said Thursday at Big Ten media days, he gets why there are conversations to build a new facility.

Complete transcript of Husker coach Scott Frost's appearance at Big Ten media day

A complete transcript of Nebraska coach Scott Frost's appearance at the main podium during Big Ten media day.

Nebraska's JD Spielman on Biletnikoff Award watch list for nation's best receiver

Spielman is coming off a sophomore season in which he caught 66 passes for 881 yards and eight touchdowns.

'The hype is good': Bill Moos bullish for second year of Husker football under Scott Frost

Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos wants all the preseason praise the media wants to give Husker football in year two of the Scott Frost era.

Big Ten media days: Scott Frost praises Adrian Martinez. 'I wouldn't trade our guy for anybody'

Scott Frost made it to the podium to take some questions at Big Ten media days. Here's what he had to say.

McKewon: Elusive on-field success, Jim Delany's last go-round and 8 other storylines at Big Ten media days

Even if the money is rolling in for each conference team, on-field success — be it in CFP berths or Heisman Trophy winners — has been elusive. Commissioner Jim Delany won’t have to address those issues much longer.

Bland: Husker Hype in Chicago, national media meets Adrian Martinez and more Big Ten storylines

As a tidal wave of expectations continues to rise for the Nebraska football season, at least one question will find an answer Thursday at Big Ten media days.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 20 Ben Stille

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Big Ten summer series: Nebraska-Wisconsin among 12 games to circle on the calendar

They’re the games you circle on the Big Ten calendar for their implications in the league race ... or just because they might be fun.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 21 Damion Daniels

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Nebraska DBs coach Travis Fisher touts true freshmen, newfound maturity of Husker secondary

Nebraska secondary coach Travis Fisher won't limit the potential of his four freshman defensive backs one bit before their first training camp.

Pick Six Podcast: All eyes on Adrian Martinez, Scott Frost and Jim Harbaugh at Big Ten media days

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon, Chris Heady and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast.

Former Husker kicker Alex Henery reminisces about favorite punts, the Colorado kick and more

Alex Henery is set to join three other Husker greats in the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame this fall. But first he joined host Mike'l Severe and "The Bottom Line" on Tuesday.

Nebraska's Adrian Martinez, Mohamed Barry selected for preseason watch lists

Senior linebacker Mohamed Barry became the second player in two days to be named to a preseason watch list.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 22 Mike Williams

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Overall ratings for every former Husker in the Madden 20 video game

There are 26 former Nebraska players on the game at launch, with enough at each position to field a starting 11 on both sides of the ball.