Iowa caps perfect regular season with statement win in Lincoln
Final: No. 4 Iowa 28, Nebraska 20
Key play: Jordan Canzeri 68-yard touchdown in third quarter
Nebraska had just ripped off its best drive of the game to make it a one-possession game. Then, for the second time in as many plays from scrimmage, Canzeri gashed the Huskers for a score. Macon Plewa made another massive kick-out block to free up the Iowa tailback to burst through. He wasn’t touched on either play, and as a result, Iowa got instant offense by doing what it does best. For a team that lacks a “flashy” offense, the Hawkeyes sure can bust some big plays in a hurry.
Telling stat: Tommy Armstrong throws four interceptions
For the third time this season, the Nebraska quarterback tossed at least three gifts to the opposing team. Iowa’s defense is stout, but Armstrong made it look easy for the Hawkeyes. Bad footwork and bad decision-making again plagued the Husker signal-caller. On that fourth-and-one play in the fourth quarter, Danny Langsdorf’s play-call caught a lot of criticism, but Armstrong had Cethan Carter wide open in the flat. It’s surprising to see a guy with as much experience as any signal-caller in the country make such ill-advised decisions. Armstrong’s counterpart, C.J. Beathard doesn’t have the arm or the mobility Armstrong has. Still, Armstrong threw more picks on Saturday as Beathard had all season. Can you guess which one is a first-year starter?
–Iowa goes 0-for-9 on third down…and still wins
I’ve stressed all year how solid Iowa’s been on third down. The Hawkeyes were 15 for their last 25 entering Friday. And what did they do on the road? They were shut down. Completely. Josh Kalu and the Nebraska secondary did a tremendous job covering downfield and wrapping up to prevent Iowa from extending drives. Beathard, who was as healthy as been all year, was contained both running and throwing the ball. Give the Blackshirts credit for locking down in some critical situations. But they needed to get a bigger push up front on those long Canzeri runs to have a chance on Friday.
-Nate Gerry ejected for targeting on HUGE hit
If there’s been a more brutal secondary hit in the B1G this season, I haven’t seen it. An overthrown ball by C.J. Beathard led to Smith laying out for a ball, which Gerry sensed the whole way. The replay showed that it was head-to-head contact, whether he meant to or not. By rule — whatever the actual rule is — it was targeting. That meant the Huskers were without their best player for the majority of the afternoon. Smith, on the other hand, returned to the game on the same series. The way Gerry connected, that’s a minor miracle. That marked the second time this year in which Smith drew a targeting call, neither of which sidelined Smith for the rest of the game. He should consider himself lucky.
What it means: Nebraska might be done, Iowa most definitely is not
It’s an odd set of circumstances, but Nebraska might not actually be done yet. It’s not much of a consolation prize, though. A five-win team like Nebraska actually would be a very attractive option if a bowl committee gets to pick and choose which team it wants. Husker fans would be there with bells on, but does it really matter in the long run? Speaking of the long run, Iowa’s run is far from over. The Hawkeyes capped an incredible 12-0 regular-season mark for the first time in school history and is now one game away from unofficially locking up a College Football Playoff spot. If you still aren’t impressed with the Hawkeyes, you probably haven’t watched them play much this year. The B1G Championship might be a good time to start.