No. 14 Nebraska at Iowa
Friday, 12:00 PM EST, ABC
Line: Nebraska – 14.5
The Nebraska Cornhuskers travel to Iowa City to face the mighty Hawkeyes in the annual…*sigh* Heroes Game. Look, Nebraska’s going to play Iowa. Iowa’s theoretical home field advantage might actually mean something if Cornhusker fans…wait for it…weren’t scooping up tickets left and right.
If you tuned in to watch Nebraska face Northwestern, the stands were thick with red. Expect Iowa City to be no different.
Iowa’s 4-7, beaten to a pulp and standing in the way of a pretty good Cornhusker team’s way to Indianapolis where they’d play for their first conference title since “Who Let the Dogs Out” was popular. This is not an enviable position to be in.
For Nebraska to Win: Take the playbook from last week’s win over Minnesota, copy and paste. The Hawkeyes aren’t going to stop Tim Beck’s offense often when the first stringers are in.
The defense is no different. Bo Pelini’s been letting the Blackshirts off their leashes and the result has been blood in the water for the opposition. Even if the game comes down to field goals, Nebraska features one of the conference’s best kickers in Brett Maher. To quote Pelini, “they just gotta execute.”
For Iowa to Win: Do teams have to forfeit if their bus breaks down? Seriously, if the Hawkeyes want a remote chance at winning this game, they need to disrupt Nebraska’s offense, bust through the Husker defense and be +5 in turnover margin. Oh, and whatever they do, don’t take a first half lead.
Key Player, Nebraska: Ciante Evans, CB – You thought Taylor Martinez was going to be in this spot, didn’t you? Too easy. Evans has been steadily developing this season to the point where offensive coordinators are throwing the ball his way less and are forced to account for him. Evans has been brought on multiple cornerback blitzes over the past few games. This should be expected to continue against Iowa. He may actually see more time than Martinez, anyway.
Key Player, Iowa: Mark Weisman, RB – Nebraska’s done a surprisingly good job at shutting down most of the quarterbacks they’ve faced. Unless Iowa can somehow get Braxton Miller to switch jerseys with James Vandenberg and get everyone to be okay with it for the sake of competition, Weisman’s going to have to do damage on the ground. Vandenberg certainly isn’t going to get it done through the air.
Key Stat: Nos. 8 and 63. No, not Ameer Abdullah and Austin Blythe. Those are the national rankings for Nebraska’s rushing attack and Iowa’s run defense, respectively. Whichever team wins the ground game wins this one.
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