On Friday, the Iowa Hawkeyes (7-4, 4-3) will kick off a new rivalry, the Heroes Game, with the Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-3, 4-3). They will travel to Lincoln for an 11 a.m. game that will be televised on ABC.
As the conference’s newest family member, Nebraska came with high expectations. I was skeptical of their first year “success” with concerns from playing against new teams, Bo Pelini’s coaching, and the quarterback situation. I didn’t expect them to land in Indianapolis on Dec. 3 but I also didn’t think they’d either lose to Northwestern or get spanked by Wisconsin and Michigan.
Maybe Nebraska is who I thought they were but against Iowa, they hold a 26-12-3 record, with Iowa’s last win coming in 1981. It’s been 30 years; maybe this will be the year.
Let’s take a look at this week’s game.
Iowa’s defense has come together in the last few games thanks to great play by seniors Broderick Binns and Mike Daniels as well as sophomore Tanner Miller. However, the Hawkeye’s 387.8 yards per game is nothing to brag about (eighth in the conference) but neither is Nebraska at 358.0 yards per game, coming in at No. 7.
Both teams will face talented offensive weapons and with Iowa’s difficulty in stopping the run (averaging 153.8 yards per game vs. Nebraska’s 168.2 yards), this should be interesting.
Iowa’s talented trio of quarterback James Vandenberg, wide receiver Marvin McNutt, Jr. and running back Marcus Coker, is tough to beat. All of them are at the top of the conference with McNutt having his best season ever and Vandenberg being impressive and confident in his first season at the helm.
Just when Coker had a potential opportunity to get a break with Mika’il McCall back in the lineup, the freshman running back got into some trouble and will not play on Friday.
Look for Jason White to get some reps.
Nebraska also has some offensive talent to brag about with quarterback Taylor Martinez’s rushing numbers and running back Rex Burkead’s 1,108 yards, ranking him No. 23 in the nation.
Iowa’s duo of Mike Meyer and Eric Guthrie has been solid this season sans a few bad kicks by Meyer. Last week, Nebraska struggled with kickoffs, a blocked punt and a failed fake field goal. However the team’s kicker, Brett Maher is good, hitting a career-long 51-yard field goal and a 69-yard punt against Michigan.
Winner: Talent vs. Consistency: Draw
There’s bragging rights for the game’s winner and a chance to go to a more prestigious bowl. Nebraska will be looking for revenge after last week and Iowa arrives with confidence.
Iowa wins in a tight game, 31-24.
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Written by Debbie Baratz