LINCOLN, Neb. — Let’s allow an Iowa offensive lineman to write this paragraph. It’s been a long season for those guys. They’ve been the easy target, they’ve taken their slings and arrows.
They threw the punches in the Hawkeyes’ 56-14 victory Friday over Nebraska. So, let’s slide the keyboard their way.
“We finished strong,” senior guard Sean Welsh said. “It’s been a year of ups and downs. I think we owed it to ourselves to come out on top of this one.”
The Hawkeyes’ offensive line put all of the punctuation the Hawkeyes needed in this one.
First, Welsh, center James Daniels, guards Keegan Render and Ross Reynolds and tackles Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs, paved the way for senior running back Akrum Wadley to become the fourth Iowa back to put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. That puts Wadley on a list with Sedrick Shaw, Ladell Betts and Fred Russell. That’s a good list.
Wadley lockers next to Daniels and Jackson.
“James Daniels is next door to me, he was pumping me up,” said Wadley, whose three TDs gave him 27 career rushing touchdowns (fourth in Iowa history) and 34 career touchdowns (third on Iowa’s career list). “AJ (Jackson), he was another one. ‘We’re going to get you there, we’re going to get you there.”
They got Wadley there. And then they got James Butler there. And Toren Young. And even Ivory Kelly-Martin.
All four running backs scored TDs.
Welsh recalled something former Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis used to say.
“It always gets the crowd into it when you score a touchdown, but when you run the ball,” Welsh said, “there’s something about that. That’s always kind of stuck with me. When you run the ball in, you kind of will it to happen. It’s always a really big morale boost.”
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A few of these were short runs, but Wadley also scored on 20- and 29-yard runs. Butler, the graduate transfer from Nevada, finally scored his first Iowa TD on a 12-yarder.
Yes, the Huskers’ run defense is among the Big Ten’s worst. You still have to make the putt. The Hawkeyes did that.
Iowa rushed for 313 yards, a season high and most since 365 against Purdue last year. Iowa’s 6.7 yards on 47 carries was a season best.
Iowa rushed for six TDs for the first time since 2001, when it did that twice (Kent State and Northwestern). If you want a welfare check on the Huskers, this is the first time they’ve allowed six rushing TDs in a game since two weeks ago against Minnesota.
Iowa scored on four straight drives for the first time this season. The Hawkeyes also produced a 99-yard scoring drive (capped by Wadley’s 20-yard run) in the second quarter. That was the longest drive of the year and the second longest in number of plays (15) and time of possession (7:18). Iowa’s last 99-yarder came last season at Rutgers.
The numbers were dizzying from an offense that went dormant the last two weeks.
“That’s pretty cool,” Daniels said. “For our offense, when we’re able to establish the run, it’s hard for us to be beat. For us to be able to establish the run, that’s the best part.”
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