Name: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cornhuskers
Location: Parts Unknown
Record: 8-3 (4-3)
Last Game: 28-24 L vs. Minnesota
Last Game vs. Iowa: Iowa 38, Nebraska 17, 2013 :)
Ranking: Unranked in both polls, unlikely to stay ranked in the CFP Poll on Tuesday night
Passing: Tommy Armstrong Jr.: 140-267, 2,112 yards, 15 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Ameer Abdullah: 223 yards, 1909 yards, 23 TDs
Receiving: Jordan Westerkamp: 39 receptions, 653 yards, 4 TDs
Tackles: Zaire Anderson, 81 tackles
Tackles For Loss: Anderson, 11.0 TFL, 1 sack
Interceptions: Nate Gerry, 4 interceptions
I will not say anything unduly negative about Bo Pelini in this space, as I fully look forward to him being a very successful defensive backs coach for the Iowa Hawkeyes in 2015.
Nebraska's offense goes as its tailbacks go, and its tailbacks go as Ameer Abdullah goes. Abdullah spent most of the season as a fringe Heisman candidate, and though his candidacy only lasted half a season at most, he's still an enormously dangerous tailback—especially against an Iowa defense that needed a borderline superheroic effort to hold Melvin Gordon to 200 yards just last week.
Abdullah should be mostly recovered from his minor knee injury from four weeks ago. Pelini has said he won't be 100% for the rest of the regular season, but even at 90% he's a legitimate weapon. And if he's ineffective, Nebraska can just throw Imani Cross and Terrell Newby in at tailback and get serious production.
Tommy Armstrong is fine at QB. His skill set is similar to that of Tommie Frazier, but the IQ isn't there to match it yet—and it doesn't look like he's made much progress on that front between his freshman and sophomore seasons. He'll be missing Kenny Bell and his big play capabilities, but Jordan Westerkamp is a perfectly cromulent wideout in his own right.
The Nebraska offensive line is good but not great. Iowa's defensive line is a little bit better, but only a little bit.
Nebrska's defense is a mess. There are good days and bad days, but on balance it's a big ball of yuck, especially considering what level of individual talent is on that team. Randy Gregory is an absolute menace off the edge, but at 240 pounds he's awfully easy to run right at—especially when you've got a pair of tackles like Brandon Scherff and Andrew Donnal.
Zaire Anderson would almost certainly start for the Hawkeyes, but it's debatable whether you'd want Trevor Roach or David Santos in for the Hawkeyes. And let's be clear—that's an awfully low bar to clear. DTs Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine were both Iowa offers, but they wouldn't play over Louis Trinca-Pasat or Carl Davis this year. The secondary's also a wash at best for Nebraska.
The point is Iowa scrimmages every week against a better defense than what Nebraska's putting on the field. This should be a mashing party for the front five and Macon Plewa. Mark Weisman isn't going to amass the 408 yards that Melvin Gordon did against this offense, obviously, but if he doesn't get 25+ carries and 100+ yards something has gone quite wrong.
It's Nebraska Hate Week. I still regret that last season's 38-17 victory in Lincoln was not enough to doom Bo Pelini, and I trust that Kirk Ferentz will not commit the error of letting the Huskers stay within 21 again.