HomeNews3 keys, prediction for Iowa football against Nebraska

3 keys, prediction for Iowa football against Nebraska

Iowa has faced Big Ten teams with a mix of offensive styles.

Purdue wins when it throws the ball well. Ohio State relies on its Heisman candidate quarterback C.J. Stroud. Illinois turns to its running back Chase Brown, as does Minnesota with Mohamed Ibrahim.

Nebraska’s formula for success is not quite as clear.

The Huskers relied on running back Anthony Grant in their 38-17 win against North Dakota. Grant rushed for 189 yards while averaging 8.2 yards per carry.

But in Nebraska’s 14-13 win over Rutgers, Grant averaged only 2.5 yards per carry, and quarterback Casey Thompson was doing more of the heavy lifting with 232 passing yards.

Nebraska’s 35-21 win over Indiana featured a mix of both. Grant averaged 4.3 yards per carry, and Thompson threw for 270 yards for a more balanced win.

“I feel like they don’t really have an identity,” Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell said. “But what I feel like they do have is they play hard, they do things well.”

Here are three keys for Iowa as it prepares for Nebraska:

Does Iowa’s defense prevent big plays?

The Huskers have scored a combined 17 points in their last two games, and the lack of big offensive plays has not helped matters.

Nebraska did not have any passing plays of 20-plus yards or 15-plus-yard rushing plays in its 15-14 loss to Wisconsin.

A week earlier, the Huskers had only one passing play of 20-plus yards and no rushing plays of 15-plus yards in their 34-3 loss to Michigan.

Limiting big plays has been a trademark of Phil Parker’s defenses. Another trademark, forcing turnovers, will again be important.

Iowa is 6-1 when winning the turnover margin and 1-3 when tying or losing the turnover margin. Had it not been for Campbell’s forced fumble and interception in the fourth quarter last week, Minnesota likely would have won.

Iowa’s offensive line vs. Nebraska’s edge rushers

Iowa’s offensive line has experienced some ups and downs this season. Quarterback Spencer Petras took six sacks against Wisconsin, but he stayed upright a lot more against Minnesota and only took one sack.

Nebraska’s edge rushers, while not quite at the caliber of Wisconsin’s Nick Herbig or Ohio State’s Zach Harrison, have the potential to cause issues for the Hawkeyes’ young offensive line.

Garrett Nelson is tied for sixth in the Big Ten with 5.5 sacks and tied for 10th in the conference with nine tackles for loss.

On the other side, Caleb Tannor is one of the most experienced players on the Nebraska defense. He’ll be playing in his 56th game as a Husker, which will tie the program record.

Ochaun Mathis has only made one start at Nebraska, but the transfer portal addition was a second-team all-Big 12 honoree in the last two seasons.

Can Iowa avoid third-and-long scenarios?

Iowa ranks 126th out of 131 FBS teams and 65th out of 65 Power Five teams in third down offense, converting only 28.9 percent of the time.

Iowa’s lack of success on third down is partly a consequence of what it has not done on first and second downs. In the Hawkeyes’ 11 third downs against Minnesota, they averaged 7.5 yards to go. Minnesota averaged 3.6 yards to go on its 16 third downs.

In games when Iowa averages fewer than 7.0 yards to go on third downs, the Hawkeyes have outscored opponents, 57-16. When Iowa needs to go 7.0 yards or farther on average, the Hawkeyes’ scoring advantage is a slimmer 135-133.

What’s at stake

The stakes are especially high for the Hawkeyes in Friday’s Heroes Trophy game.

A win would give Iowa its second consecutive Big Ten West title and a trip to the conference championship game. Iowa would surely be the substantial underdog against Ohio State or Michigan, but the Hawkeyes would be one more win away from the Rose Bowl.

A loss would push Iowa to 7-5 — its worst regular-season finish since 2017. It would also hurt Iowa’s postseason bowl possibilities. Many bowl projections have Iowa slotted to the Citrus Bowl or ReliaQuest (formerly Outback) Bowl.

A fifth regular-season loss could be the difference between another trip to Tampa and a trip to the not-as-prestigious Duke’s Mayo Bowl.


Iowa has the talent for a double-digit win, but Nebraska has played these games closer than expected in recent history.

Nebraska vs. Iowa football: How to watch live for free

Iowa can secure a return to the Big Ten Championship Game if it beats Nebraska on Friday. Kickoff from Iowa City is at 4 p.m. Eastern.

WATCH LIVE FOR FREE: Fubo.tv (FREE trial); DirecTV Stream (FREE trial); Hulu + Live TV (FREE trial). Also Sling TV (promotional offers).

The Hawkeyes took control of their destiny in the Big Ten West by beating Minnesota, 13-10, in their latest game. Nebraska is coming off a 15-14 loss to Wisconsin and has lost five games in a row.

Who: Nebraska (3-8, 2-6 Big Ten) at Iowa (7-4, 5-3).

When: Friday, Nov. 25, 2022.

Time: 4 p.m. Eastern.

Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City (69,250).


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Live streamsFubo.tv (FREE trial); DirecTV Stream (FREE trial); Hulu + Live TV (FREE trial); Sling TV (promotional offers); and Fox Sports (TV provider sign-in required).

Latest line: Iowa -10.5.

Announcers: Brandon Gaudin, Jake Butt and Rick Pizzo.

Here is a preview capsule of this game from the Associated Press.

Series record: Nebraska leads 29-20-3.


Iowa returns to the Big Ten championship game as West champion if it knocks off the Cornhuskers an eighth straight time. The Hawkeyes were 1-3 in conference play a month ago and a December trip to Indianapolis looked like an impossibility with upstart Illinois reeling off wins. But the Illini have lost three straight, and the Hawkeyes are on the doorstep after four straight wins.


Iowa defensive line vs. Nebraska offensive line. Deontae Craig, Lukas Van Ness and Joe Evans have combined for 9 1/2 of the Hawkeyes’ 14 sacks over the last four games and are part of a front that was giving up just 89 yards rushing per game before it encountered Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim last week. Ibrahim had a career-high 263 of the Gophers’ 312 yards on the ground. But Nebraska doesn’t have a running back like Ibrahim, and its offensive line is one of the lowest-ranked in the nation.


Nebraska: QB Casey Thompson has been beaten up all season and missed two games because of an elbow nerve injury. Even though he still has numbness in his right pinkie, he’s easily the Huskers’ best quarterback and gives them their best chance to beat Iowa for the first time since 2014.

Iowa: LB Jack Campbell, if he hadn’t already, secured his place in Hawkeyes lore with his 10 tackles and fourth-quarter forced fumble and interception against Minnesota. He’s on track to lead the Big Ten in tackles for a second straight year and will be looking to go out in a big way in what probably is his Kinnick Stadium finale.


Iowa has won 14 straight November games and is 18-5 in November games since 2017, including 9-2 at home. … Iowa has held nine of 11 opponents to 13 or fewer points and has scored four defensive touchdowns. … The teams play for the Heroes Trophy. Iowa has won by a touchdown or less each of the past four years. … Edge rusher Caleb Tannor will play in his 56th game at Nebraska, which would tie Cameron Meredith’s school record for games played (2008-12). … Nebraska is playing on Black Friday for the 33rd consecutive season. The Huskers have played Iowa on the day after Thanksgiving the past 12 seasons. Before that they played Colorado (1996-2010) and Oklahoma (1990-95).

For team hats, shirts or other gear: Visit FanaticsLidsChamps SportsDick’s Sporting Goods and New Era.

Sources: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

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