Iowa Football

Iowa football: 5 Things to know about Nebraska

Huskers need to beat Hawkeyes for bowl eligibility

Nebraska cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt (5) celebrates during the remaining seconds of a game against Maryland, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in College Park, Md. (Will Newton/Associated Press)
Nebraska cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt (5) celebrates during the remaining seconds of a game against Maryland, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in College Park, Md. (Will Newton/Associated Press)

The final game of the regular season has some drama.

If you’re No. 17 Iowa, a 9-3 season sure looks better than 8-4. And heading into bowl preparations on a three-game winning streak would feel awfully good.

If you’re Nebraska, it’s very simple. The Cornhuskers snapped a four-game losing streak Saturday, dumping Maryland, 54-7. That leaves them 5-6 overall, a win away from bowl eligibility.

Win and your season continues. Lose and you’re cleaning out your locker.

“Everything is on the line in Memorial Stadium (Friday),” senior linebacker Mohamed Barry said after Saturday’s win in College Park, Md. “It’s a rivalry game, it’s my last game at Memorial Stadium, it’s the seniors’ last game.

“This game means everything.”

Pretty simple.

Here are 5 Things about Nebraska and Friday’s game:

1. Nebraska is feeling good

The Cornhuskers are on a high right now, thanks to Saturday’s win.

Maryland can make a lot of teams feel good, but this was the kind of lopsided win Nebraska needed.

“So, Nebraska fans these days look hard for progress. Any progress. Never mind the opponent in this case. You saw Nebraska players show fight and determination. The Huskers played in a manner that suggests they want the season to continue. That alone felt like progress. ...,” Lincoln Journal Star columnist Steven M. Sipple wrote.

 

He also noted ...

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“After all, Nebraska’s bowl hopes are alive. And now here comes Iowa for a Black Friday showdown in Lincoln. Yeah, I’m going with ‘showdown’ because the home-standing Huskers (5-6, 3-5 Big Ten) should have plenty of motivation. My heavens, Frost’s young program needs a bowl game badly.”

2. The Iowa-Nebraska series

There was time when Iowa fans feared seeing “Nebraska” on the schedule.

Before the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten Conference in 2011, a game against the powerful program to the west was a major happening.

The two teams met that first year, with Nebraska grabbing a 20-7 win in Memorial Stadium. It also won the next year and three of the first four.

Now?

Iowa has won four straight and five of the last six, including three times in Lincoln.

 

Before joining the Big Ten, Nebraska had won three in a row and five of six in games played between 1979 through 2000.

This series actually started in 1891 and the two teams played every year through 1899. They met twice in 1896, once to a 0-0 tie and the other a 6-0 Iowa win. Between 1903 and 1917, Nebraska won eight of the nine times they met with the other game ending in a tie.

Nebraska leads the overall series, 29-17-3.

3. Key stats for Nebraska

Based on the weekly Big Ten release, about the only thing Nebraska has done well this season is play clean.

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The Cornhuskers are not listed among the leaders in any of the big offensive or defensive statistics, but they rank fifth in the league in fewest penalty yards per game (44.82) and sixth in fewest penalties (5.27). Iowa, by the way, leads the league and ranks fourth nationally in both categories (31.73 and 4.18).

Individually it’s more of the same. Khalil Davis ranks fourth in the league and 16th nationally at 0.8 sacks per game and Cam Taylor-Britt is third in the league and NCAA at 0.40 forced fumbles per game.

Nebraska is averaging 28.4 points and allowing 27.8 per game. Both rank in the lower half of the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers, however, are third in rushing offense, averaging 205 yards per game, and fifth in total offense (427.8). They allow 394.7 yards per game, including 184.7 rushing yards.

4. Adrian Martinez is a dual threat at QB

Sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez continues to impress.

A 6-foot-2, 225-pounder from Fresno, Calif., he was a freshman All-American last year when he averaged 295.1 yards per game, completing 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,617 yards and rushing for 629.

He’s had his ups and downs this year — 47 passing yards against Ohio State and eight interceptions in nine games — and he missed two games with an injury. But he remains a dangerous dual-threat weapon and ranks first in the Big Ten in total offense (276.4 yards per game), eighth in rushing yards (64.7) and seventh in passing yards (211.8).

5. A Nebraska history lesson

Although a younger generation may not remember, Nebraska is one of the most decorated football programs in the country.

The team owns five “claimed” national titles and nine “unclaimed,” starting with the 1915 season and ending with the ’99 campaign. It has had three Heisman Trophy winners — Johnny Rodgers in 1972, Mike Rozier in ’83 and Eric Crouch in ’01 — and 54 consensus All-Americans.

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Bob Devaney coached Nebraska to two of those consensus national titles (1970 and ’71) and Tom Osborne won three (1994, ’95 and ‘97). Osborne won 13 Big Eight/Big 12 titles, but since that time success has waned. Nebraska’s last title was a Big Ten Legends crown in 2012 and it hasn’t been to a bowl game since losing to Tennessee in the 2016 Music City Bowl.

Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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