Iowa has already locked up the Big Ten West, but can it spoil Nebraska’s shot at bowl eligibility?
It’s Thanksgiving week, which means lots of food, but especially a lot of football. Since 2011, Nebraska and Iowa have met on Black Friday. The Hawkeyes had a chance to clinch the Big Ten West at home last year, but the Huskers spoiled the party. Now, Iowa looks to return the favor and keep Nebraska out of a bowl game yet again.
Can the Nebraska quarterbacks step up against the Iowa defense?
In his first season in Lincoln, Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule has dealt with a roulette wheel of quarterbacks. Jeff Sims began the season as the starter, but his inconsistent play led to Heinrich Haarberg getting the starting job. Haarberg hasn’t played poorly, but he suffered an injury against Maryland that forced Sims back into action.
Nebraska football lost that game 13-10, and Chubba Purdy earned his first career start last week against Wisconsin. Regardless of who goes under center, they are going to have a difficult time against a tough, strong, Iowa defense that has only allowed 12.3 points per game this year.
Can Deacon Hill continue to improve?
After Cade McNamara suffered a season-ending injury against Michigan State in Week 5, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz turned to Wisconsin transfer Deacon Hill to lead the Hawkeye offense. His first two starts were a disaster, his completion percentage was hovering around 30 percent, and frustration was mounting from Iowa fans. However, Hill has turned in some respectable performances over the past two weeks and completed 65 percent of his passes in the win against Illinois. Most importantly, the California native didn’t turn the ball over against the Fighting Illini, which is important for the Hawkeyes moving forward.
Can Iowa continue to navigate through the injury bug?
Despite a lofty 9-2 record, it has been a roller-coaster ride for the Iowa Hawkeyes. First, they lost standout tight end Luke Lachey to a season-ending leg injury in Week 3, and then McNamara went down two weeks later. As if that wasn’t bad enough for the Hawkeyes, they also lost their other tight end Erick All, and star defensive back Cooper DeJean to injury later on in the season. Despite these monumental losses, Iowa continues to win, and it has already earned a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game next week. It will be interesting to see how this club can keep battling adversity, especially in front of a raucous crowd at Memorial Stadium.
Other game nuggets for Nebraska football vs. Iowa
The weather: The early forecast in Lincoln calls for a high of 34 degrees, with a 20 percent chance of precipitation. Expect a defensive slugfest in this one
The setting: Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska (Capacity 90,000)
The penalties: Iowa committed six penalties last week against Illinois. Nebraska football committed seven penalties in their overtime loss against Wisconsin last week.
The turnovers: Iowa committed zero turnovers last week against Illinois. The Huskers weren’t so lucky and threw an interception in overtime that clinched the game for the Badgers.
The special teams: Iowa kicker Drew Stevens has missed a field goal in each of the last two games. Nebraska kicker Tristan Alvano went 1 for 2 last week against Wisconsin.
Last five meetings: The Hawkeyes have won four out of the last five against the Huskers, but Nebraska won last season’s matchup 24-17, in Iowa City.
Prediction: Iowa 20, Nebraska 10