Iowa Football

Iowa-Nebraska Game Report: Grades, numbers, notes and more

A closer look at Iowa’s 31-28 win over Nebraska in Friday’s regular-season finale at Kinnick Stadium.

Play of the game

The Set Up: A 28-28 game, just under a minute left, what seemed a weird third-and-11 call by Iowa (a running play to Mekhi Sargent that went for just 3 yards to the Nebraska 37) is followed by a Nebraska timeout. The Cornhuskers (4-8, 3-6) think they’re getting the ball back. So does everyone else.

Iowa (8-4, 5-4) tries the old draw-them-offside gig, and, predictably, it doesn’t work. The Hawkeyes call timeout just as the play clock is about to expire, certainly punting, now, right?

Umm, not so fast. Iowa’s offense trots back onto the field, and quarterback Nate Stanley goes into the shotgun and starts barking signals. Are they really gonna go for it?

What Happened: Stanley takes the snap, Nebraska’s blitzes. Tight end T.J. Hockenson is in the right slot. Nebraska safety Antonio Reed, who is in charge of defending him, is playing well off of him.

This is the defensive look Iowa wanted, exactly where the ball is going.

Iowa’s line picks up the blitz, with blocking help from its split running backs. Stanley sees Hockenson and fires, Hockenson going down to make sure he cradles this catch. It’s a huge one for 10 yards and a first down to the Cornhuskers 27.


The Result: One more running play for Sargent takes the football to the Nebraska 23. Iowa calls timeout with five seconds left and brings out kicker Miguel Recinos.

Nebraska follows with a timeout to ice him, but Recinos coolly nails a 41-yard field goal on the game’s final play. Iowa 31, Nebraska 28.


Marc Morehouse: B+

Feel like there’s a pretty good “sports hate” going on in this series.

Mike Hlas: B

Surprisingly, this game was as entertaining as Black Friday’s mall brawls.

Jeff Johnson: A

What was up with that fake field-goal call? The Hawkeyes could have made it easier on themselves, but, in the end, it was a win, the fourth straight over Nebraska.


• It’s doubtful the old man ever made a catch like that one. Kade Warner made a leaping grab in the back of the end zone of a pass from quarterback Adrian Martinez and got his foot down inbounds for a 2-point conversion that brought Nebraska into a 28-28 tie with 4:32 left. Warner is the son of Cedar Rapids native and NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. A redshirt freshman, Kade Warner joined the Nebraska program from a Scottsdale, Ariz., high school as a walk-on. He had four other catches in the game for 16 yards.

• Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley went over the 5,000-yard mark passing for his career Friday. He is the ninth player in Iowa history to do so. He completed 16 of 27 passes for 152 yards and has 5,137 in his career. He threw two touchdown passes to increase his career total to 49, fourth all-time in school history. Chuck Long (74), Drew Tate (61) and Ricky Stanzi (56) are still above him.

• Iowa cornerback Matt Hankins and safety Jake Gervase had a team-high 10 tackles each Friday. That’s a career high for Hankins and a career-high tie for Gervase. Defensive end Anthony Nelson also set his career high with eight stops. Nelson also had two sacks. A.J. Epenesa added another, giving Iowa 34 this season. That’s the most in a single season since 2003. Epenesa’s sack total of 9.5 is Iowa’s most in a single season since Mike Daniels recorded nine in 2011.

• Former linebacker James Morris was Iowa’s honorary captain Friday. Morris lettered four years, from 2010-2013. He spent time with the New England Patriots, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys organizations in the NFL.

• Iowa’s 14 seniors, honored pregame, are defensive lineman Sam Brincks, wide receiver Nick Easley, offensive lineman Dalton Ferguson, free safety Jake Gervase, wide receiver Kyle Groeneweg, defensive end Parker Hesse, linebacker Jack Hockaday, fullback Austin Kelly, linebacker Aaron Mends, defensive lineman Matt Nelson, offensive lineman Jake Newborg, kicker Miguel Recinos and offensive linemen Keegan Render and Ross Reynolds.


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• Tight end Noah Fant was the only Nebraska native on the Iowa roster. He’s from Omaha. Nebraska had two Iowans in sophomore offensive lineman John Raridon (West Des Moines Valley) and redshirt freshman defensive lineman Ben Lingenfelter (Cherokee).

• Stanley Morgan Jr. caught seven passes for 81 yards for Nebraska, setting the school’s season and career receiving yardage records. Morgan Jr. caught a pass for the 38th consecutive game, also a Nebraska record. His 189 career receptions are a school record as well.

• Representatives from the Citrus, Outback and Holiday Bowls were at Friday’s game. Iowa will not find out its bowl destination officially until a week from Sunday, but the Holiday Bowl in San Diego appears to be more and more likely.

By the numbers

18 — Iowa interceptions this season. Coming into Friday, the Hawkeyes ranked tops in the Big Ten Conference and were second nationally.

41 — Length of the field goal Iowa’s Miguel Recinos made to give his team a 31-28 win.

46 — Length of the field goal Nebraska’s Barret Pickering made at the end of the first half after Iowa’s Riley Moss was called for an offside penalty, giving Pickering a second chance after missing a 51-yarder short.

266 — Season-high rushing total for Iowa.

65,299 — Your attendance at Kinnick Stadium on Black Friday.

Injury report

Iowa seemed to come out of this game unscathed. Starting offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs injured an ankle in the fourth quarter last week at Illinois but played the entire way here.

Fullback Austin Kelly returned to play for the first time since injuring his ankle in an Oct. 13 game at Indiana.


Up next

For Iowa, it’s a bowl game ... somewhere. It’s looking increasingly likely the Hawkeyes will end up at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, by the way. For Nebraska, it’s hitting the recruiting trail and getting ready for next season.

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