Game Report: Nebraska 20, Iowa 7
BY THE NUMBERS
38 — Rushing attempts by Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead, a school record
61 — Rushing attempts by Nebraska
37:47 — Nebraska's time of possession
2-of-12 — Iowa's third-down conversions
10-of-21 — Nebraska's third-down conversions
D-minus — I liked the corn bowl trophy thingie a little better, I think. Either way, might be awhile before they need to clear space in Iowa City.
F — A flop on the road to finish a regular-season with a 7-5 record. (Rerun)
D — Nebraska traded its annual rivalry with Kansas for one with Iowa. Different bird, same results.
— Scott Dochterman
Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead set a new school record with 38 carries. Even more significant was that Burkhead gained yardage on 35 of those carries, totaling 160 for the game.
"He didn’t practice that much throughout the week so I kind of didn’t know if he was going to play or not," Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez said. "But he did come out and play."
Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard was charged with perhaps the most important job for Nebraska this week: stop Iowa WR Marvin McNutt. The Cornhuskers tailored their defense so Dennard could cover McNutt on virtually every play. It worked.
Dennard held McNutt to 29 yards on four catches. McNutt had only one catch of importance — a 26-yarder on Iowa's only touchdown drive — and never could get open.
"I’m a competitive guy, so I want to go against the best one every single time," Dennard said. "So when they told me I was going to go against McNutt all game, I just I’m up for the challenge."
"Dennard is a hell of a corner," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Iowa finishes at 7-5 for the second straight season and 4-4 in the Big Ten. Should the Big Ten land two teams in the Bowl Championship Series, Iowa likely is headed to either the Jan. 2 Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, Fla.) against an SEC team or the Dec. 31 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (Houston) against a Big 12 squad.
If the Big Ten fails to send two teams to the BCS, it's possible Iowa could play in the Jan. 2 TicketCity Bowl (Dallas' Cotton Bowl) against a Conference USA team.
McNutt continued his quest to become Iowa's all-everything wide receiver but he will need a strong bowl game to earn all the significant records.
McNutt is four receptions short of tying Kevin Kasper for the catches in a season with 82. McNutt is seven catches shy of tying Derrell Johnson-Koulianos for the career mark at 173.
McNutt already owns the record for career receiving yardage (2,797), career receiving touchdowns (28), single-season receiving yardage (1,269) and single-season touchdown receiptions (10).
Nebraska's players like the prospects of playing Iowa in an annual series but reviews were mixed on whether it has become a rivalry.
"They made a really big deal about this game, and it’s pretty cool they have the Heroes thing for each state," Nebraska safety Austin Cassidy said. "But there’s already a rivalry between Nebraska and Iowa. It’s really awesome that we can play each other now on a regular basis."
Dennard stopped short of calling it a rivalry.
"I think it’s just way too early," he said. "It just felt like a normal game to me. I really don’t know how much rivalry Iowa and Nebraska is, but it’s just like a normal game to me."
Nebraska has played a different Iowa school — Iowa State — 105 times before the series ended with Nebraska joining the Big Ten. But Cassidy said the Cornhuskers have more in common with the Hawkeyes than they ever did with the Cyclones.
"I just think Iowa State is a good program, and obviously they just beat Oklahoma State; it’s good for them and they’re really on the up-and-coming," Cassidy said. "Iowa, they’re a program that’s a lot like us in a lot of ways. We’re battling for the same recruits. I think they pride themselves on being a tough, nose-to-grindstone team. I think that’s what we want to be, too. We can draw the line of comparisons between the teams, too. No one wants to be the other guy’s little brother. That’s how I kind of see this rivalry."
Iowa now has lost its last five trophy games spread over the last 14 months. Those losses include a pair in 2010 to Wisconsin and Minnesota, and three this year — Iowa State, Minnesota and Nebraska.
Iowa plays Iowa State, Minnesota and Nebraska all in Iowa City next year. The Hawkeyes next are scheduled to play Wisconsin in 2013.
OSBORNE: RIVALRIES TAKE TIME
Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne likes how the Big Ten set up an Iowa-Nebraska match-up for the regular-season finale on Black Friday.
"People have said this may be a rivalry," Osborne said. "If it is, then that would be a logical time to do it, play it."
But Osborne, a legendary Nebraska football coach, added that rivalries develop over time on the field, not in the league offices.
"A pretty good example will be the so-called rivalry with Colorado that was one that was declared primarily by Colorado," Osborne said. "They said we are their rival. Rivalries usually develop over a number of years and usually there’s a shared excellence.
"Probably the best example (of a rivalry) we would have would be Nebraska-Oklahoma. For like 30 years, I think 29 of 30 years that game determined the Big Eight championship, and quite often had national championship implications. I think usually those things develop over time more than they do by declaration."
Osborne said he has enjoyed his first year in the Big Ten and said both the league and fellow schools have accommodated the Cornhuskers. He said Nebraska's fans have been treated well "for the most part."
"I don’t think we’ve been treated any worse certainly than anybody else," Osborne said. "Overall it’s been good."
Osborne said he still keeps tabs on his former Big 12 rivals. He isn't surprised that Texas A&M and Missouri have elected to leave the Big 12 after this season.
"There’s no question that the instability was a factor (in leaving the Big 12)," Osborne said. "I guess the way things played our this year maybe further reinforced that, I’m not totally certain that’s over yet. When television contracts come up, that’s when these things tend rear their head. So there will be a new contract in 2016. We’re pleased where we are, and hopefully the Big 12 will do well."
BLACK FRIDAY 2012
Next year Iowa will play host to Nebraska on Black Friday. Iowa's students will remain out of school for Thanksgiving break next year, which could provide for gaping holes in the southwest corner of Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta said he hasn't "really given that a lot of thought" but shared a few ideas Iowa might consider for filling those empty seats with Hawkeye fans."One of the things we’ll do is give the students first shot at it," he said. "Maybe if they want to volunteer that they’re not going to be there, maybe we can fill in with other students or fill in with other fans. But right now I haven’t thought that far out."