A bye week! Nebraska finally had a week off after 11 straight games starting at the beginning of September. After what were arguably Nebraska’s best two performances of the season, the banged-up Huskers got a week to rest and relax. For the first time in several weeks, Nebraska should be mostly healthy on defense and, other than Brandon Reilly, offense. It couldn’t have come at a better time for the Huskers as the undefeated Iowa Hawkeyes roll into Lincoln looking to continue their journey as a College Football Playoff team.
Iowa football is 11-0 for the first time in history. A pretty impressive accomplishment, really. A lot of pundits and fans complain about Iowa’s schedule but the only teams that you can beat are the teams that you play each week. Sure, they ducked Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State but at least they found a way to beat Purdue. Husker head coach Mike Riley has proved that he can provide big upsets from time to time including in his first year at Nebraska. Can the Huskers be the black mark on the record of another team this year? Can they twice be the 1 in 11-1? They certainly have the talent to beat a very good Iowa team. How can they put it all together and actually win? Keep reading and find out…
Don’t Turn The Ball Over
Ok, maybe once if you feel like you have to. Per game, Nebraska is -.9 in turnover margin while Iowa is +1.3. Not great numbers for Husker fans. If Rutgers can put up 14 points off of 3 Husker turnovers then Iowa can easily put up 21. More than that, Iowa’s defense is good enough that they’ll take Nebraska out of the game early if it’s a turnover-fest. The key for Nebraska to win will be that Good Tommy Armstrong shows up and limits his mistakes. If the Huskers can keep their turnovers down to one or less, I can see them easily getting Iowa on their heels. If they start turning the ball over a couple times or more…well, expect Iowa to win by a comfortable margin.
Stop The Run
Iowa QB C.J. Beathard (pronounced beth-herd, sadly) isn’t the athlete the Tommy Armstrong is with his legs but he’s incredibly good at picking his spots. His 3rd down scrambles have been incredibly tough on opposing defenses and that’s mainly due to Iowa’s down-and-distance. Nebraska will need to shut down Iowa’s running game early and try to make Beathard win with his arm alone. Iowa boasts a four-headed running attack led by Jordan Canzeri and won’t be afraid to turn all of them loose on Friday. Bottle up the running backs, don’t let Beathard get loose on 3rd down scrambles and the Huskers could make it out with another upset.
That’s it. Nebraska is more talented across the board than Iowa but has a tendency to get in its own way. Players are finally looking comfortable in their new systems, coaches look more comfortable with the talent that they have and the whole program looks a lot better. If, IF, Nebraska can stay turnover free then I think the chances to win are high. Can they limit the mistakes? Let’s hope so.
Prediction: Nebraska 23 – Iowa 35