You say you want drama, intrigue and suspense? Have I got the game for you. Nebraska has momentum heading into its annual collision with Iowa, but this time the Huskers sit at 5-6 and are playing their second top-10 team in three games for a postseason bid.
Iowa is officially a part of the Big Ten Championship Game and should the Hawkeyes beat the Huskers then win it, that gives them a legitimate College Football Playoff argument. Both teams have plenty to win and lose. Let’s review what may ultimately decide the game.
Iowa at Nebraska
Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 27 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Iowa -1.5
Three Things to Watch
1.Tommy Armstrong vs. Iowa’s Pass Defense
The Cornhuskers seem to have found a recipe for success on the ground, but the big question is which Armstrong will show up? The one who can thread a needle and manage clock with the best of them or the one that makes foolish lobs into triple coverage and doesn’t check down?
You’d better believe offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf will be working to keep Armstrong’s passes away from stud Iowa cornerback Desmond King.
2. Iowa’s Running Game vs. Nebraska’s Front Seven
Nebraska’s defensive linemen and linebackers finally received an opportunity to relax during the team’s first bye week of the year last weekend and just in time. If the Blackshirts are going to help win this game, the front seven need to stop the run.
The Hawkeyes currently average 212 yards on the ground, but how much of that has been inflated by a so-so schedule? Regardless, running back Jordan Canzeri is no slouch and it’ll take the Huskers keeping Iowa in third down situations to force some manner of change in the Hawkeye game plan.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard has also been a crucial part of the Hawkeyes’ efficient offense. He hasn’t lit up the world with his aerial scoring, but he has over 2,000 yards to his name. He can most certainly help avoid those nasty aforementioned third downs.
3. The Crowd
Nebraska's fans are often called “The Most Knowledgeable Fans in College Football”, but they don’t need to be geniuses to know everything that’s on the line. Thanks to Daylight Saving Time, likely half of this contest is going to be under the lights much like the Michigan State game. The difference is that game will have seemed downright balmy.
Nebraska’s home-field advantage helped rattle the Spartans and the Huskers will need a little extra oomph from the tens of thousands in the stands once again.
No matter who wins, one team loses out on some major mojo.
If the Huskers get the “W”, Mike Riley ties the number of top-ten wins Bo Pelini racked up during his seven years and the Big Red gets 15 more invaluable practices thanks to their bowl game. If Iowa wins, one of the most unlikely of picks could be knocking on the College Football Playoff’s door.
My advice: Eat yourself stupid on Thanksgiving so you can unbuckle your belt and watch a probable back-and-forth old-fashioned Big Ten slugfest.