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LINCOLN, NEB. — Nebraska isn’t exactly the typical 3-8 team.
All eight of the Cornhuskers’ losses have come by 10 or fewer points. Then-No. 3 Oklahoma only beat them by seven. Then-No. 5 Ohio State? Nine points. No. 15 Wisconsin? Seven points.
It’ll make Friday’s matchup with Iowa, which hasn’t won a game by more than 10 points since Oct. 1, especially interesting.
Here are five players to know ahead of Friday’s battle for the Heroes Game trophy.
QB Logan Smothers
With a shoulder injury sidelining star quarterback Adrian Martinez, redshirt freshman Logan Smothers is next in line on the depth chart.
It’ll be the biggest test of the Muscle Shoals, Ala., native’s career.
Smothers has thrown just 11 passes at the college level, and seven of those were against FCS-level Fordham. He has never thrown more than two passes in a Big Ten game.
The quarterback also had offers from Louisville and Ole Miss before committing to the Huskers.
Nebraska could also use true freshman Heinrich Haarberg at quarterback. Haarberg has not appeared in any collegiate games. He works with the same private quarterbacks coach as Iowa’s Alex Padilla.
WR Samori Toure
Samori Toure, a transfer from Montana, is one of Nebraska’s most experienced players on offense.
Toure will be the only offensive player available with more than 30 collegiate starts. Most of those starts were at Montana, though.
He left the Grizzlies as the program’s record-holder for receiving yards and receptions in a season and receiving yards in a single game.
Toure has shown impressive results in his small sample size at the FBS level, too, as a big-play threat.
The Portland, Ore., native surpassed 100 receiving yards five times in 2021. That includes a four-reception, 150-yard performance against then-No. 5 Ohio State.
He has grabbed at least one 30-plus-yard reception in each of Nebraska’s last three games. He has four 65-plus-yard receptions this season.
S Deontai Williams
Deontai Williams has been one of the more productive defensive players on the Huskers.
The junior college transfer has a team-high four interceptions — that’s as many as the next three Huskers combined — and has picks in his last two games.
He could be an impact player for Nebraska against Iowa, if he can play.
That last part is a big asterisk.
Williams has not played since suffering an injury in Nebraska’s Oct. 16 loss to Minnesota. He practiced last week, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, but could not play Saturday at Wisconsin.
CB Cam Taylor-Britt
One of the first suggested search items when someone starts to search “Cam Taylor-Britt” is “Cam Taylor-Britt NFL Draft.”
Taylor-Britt doesn’t have the flashy interception numbers Williams has — his only pick came against Minnesota on Oct. 16 — but he has a team-high 10 pass deflections.
The 6-foot cornerback, who played quarterback in high school, has missed just two games since stepping foot in Lincoln and playing as a true freshman in 2018.
TE Austin Allen
Iowa may be known as “Tight End U,” but the team on the other sideline has a dangerous tight end, too.
Wisconsin found that out the hard way.
Austin Allen had seven receptions for a team-high 143 yards against the Badgers last week. That translates to 20.4 yards per catch.
The Badgers aren’t the only ones, either.
Allen has racked up more than 20 yards per catch in three of Nebraska’s last five games.
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