116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — In the end, things went the way they were intended.
That was the Hawkeyes you thought would be there for the entirety of 2016. The Hawkeyes (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten) who herded No. 16 Nebraska around Kinnick Stadium like goats, those are the ones you picked to win the Big Ten West Division and play in Indianapolis for the league championship for the second consecutive season.
It was the Hawkeyes they thought you'd be seeing for all of 2016.
It all showed up for Iowa's 40-10 body slam of the Huskers (9-3, 6-3) before 69,814 fans Friday at Kinnick Stadium.
Senior running back LeShun Daniels rushed for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Junior running back Akrum Wadley got the ball rolling with a jump cut that opened the Huskers defense like a tuna can for a 75-yard run. He finished with 105 yards on 11 carries.
Even Iowa's passing game, which has been ashes in an urn most of the second half of the season, got into the act. Quarterback C.J. Beathard hit senior wide receiver Riley McCarron for a 77-yard TD in the first quarter.
Iowa's offense reeled off plays of 75, 77 and Daniels' 56-yard run and scored on drives of two, one, four and three plays en route to a 20-3 halftime lead and 26-3 advantage early in the third.
This was Iowa's first victory over the Huskers at Kinnick since 1981, which also happened to be Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz's first season in Iowa City, when he started his nine-year run as Hayden Fry's offensive line coach.
Iowa's offensive line went through six lineup changes this season because of injury. Ferentz used that unit as a symbol for a team that, yeah, went through kind of a washing machine of emotions in a year in which it lost to an FCS team and beat the No. 3 team in the nation at Kinnick.
'It just takes grit,' Ferentz said. 'We've had our issues — guys in, guys out, and everybody out there is not 100 percent, obviously, but the guys, they stay positive. They focus on what they can work — focus on improving. They focus on what they can do to help the football team, but it all starts ... they care, and they care greatly about what they do and their performance, and they've worked hard.
'So again, that's why I'm just so happy for our entire team, to see everybody working hard like they have, in tough circumstances, and keep pushing forward.'
Iowa's offense delivered that classing churn game. The Hawkeyes rushed for 264 yards on 47 carries. The Hawkeyes defense delivered what it's been delivering since being punched out at Penn State. Iowa held the Huskers to 90 rushing yards on 31 carries (that's just 12 yards more than the 78 yards Ohio State held the Huskers to in its 62-3 victory four weeks ago).
'I bet their practices are like a bloodbath, because both sides of the ball kind of emulate that,' Nebraska defensive coordinator Mark Banker said in the postgame.
Somehow when all of the bodies were untwisted, even the coronation went as intended.
Daniels and Wadley went into the game with around 850 yards apiece. With the bowl game counting, you figured Iowa would have a 1,000-yard back for the first time since 2011 (Marcus Coker had 1,384 yards).
Daniels crossed that finish line in the fourth quarter. He now stands at 1,013 yards this season. Wadley isn't far behind at 966. Iowa has never had two backs reach 1,000 yards in the same season.
'I'm kind of glad it was LeShun today,' offensive tackle Boone Myers said. 'I'm not dissing Akrum, but it's LeShun's senior day, his last game in Kinnick, it's good to get him that. We're going to get Ak his.'
The bloodbath spilled into Iowa's defensive effort, too. Yes, Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong was hampered by a hamstring injury, but the Hawkeyes' headlock never let up. The Huskers' 217 total yards was only 13 more than what Ohio State did to them. This is the long way of saying Iowa pretty much did to Nebraska, the No. 16 team in the country, what Ohio State did to Nebraska.
Since the dam broke and Penn State piled 599 yards on Iowa to begin November, Iowa's defense has held its last three opponents to just 616 yards.
And now the Hawkeyes are 3-1 for the month and everything feels as in place.
'We played our best football the last three weeks,' defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson said. 'The Penn State loss was a punch in the face. After that, we homed in on the little things we needed to do. Whether it was getting to bed early or just the little things that add up to being a good team.
'Just the little things. There's no special formula that we put in. There's no secret sauce.'
Blood doesn't count as a secret sauce, FYI.