I’ll be the first to admit where I’m wrong. After the Penn State game, I not-so-subtly ripped Iowa for their embarrassing performance. I expressed no confidence in Iowa being able to beat Michigan or Nebraska, and I secretly had my doubts about the Illinois game. I wasn’t ready to see Iowa get curb stomped in a third straight bowl game by an underachieving, but much more talented SEC team. To be fair, that bowl scenario still could happen, but you’re certainly more optimistic now aren’t you? In looking back, you could probably thank Penn State RB Saquon Barkley for publicly calling out the defense after that game. Whatever it was, something certainly clicked in the Hawkeye locker room. We could all be pissed about the ones that got away. We have all offseason for that. Instead, just be proud the Hawks didn’t roll over and die on the season and built some momentum going into 2017.
Iowa thoroughly pantsed the Cornhuskers and we should enjoy every minute of it. Let’s re-live it shall we?
What went right?
Big Plays: The recap has to start with the big plays that killed any Husker momentum. On offense, the Hawkeyes busted out three plays of 50+ yards, two of which were TD’s and another set up a TD a few plays later. In addition, Desmond King returned a punt 44 yards early in the third quarter, which set up a George Kittle TD a few plays later. The defense certainly came to play, but since it has been the offense holding the team back pretty much all season, it was a relief to finally see some explosion.
Running Game: The two-headed monster of AkShun Dadley torched Nebraska all game and it was glorious. The two combined for 263 yards on 40 carries. Mr. Daniels eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the season, while Mr. Wadley only needs 34 yards to get there. If they get there, they would be the first dual 1,000 yard rushers in school history. And a special shout-out to the OL is warranted here. The OL has quietly been improving steadily as the season has gone along. Given that Iowa football doesn’t function without a good OL, they deserve some credit for paving the way for the RB’s this season.
Defense: Yep, the defense kicked all kinds of ass for the third straight game, after getting publicly called out by the aforementioned Barkley. Nebraska was held to a paltry 217 yards of offense. For those of you crunching numbers at home, Iowa defense has given up an amazing 616 yards of offense its last three games after giving up 599 in the Penn State game. In this game in particular, I thought it was the LB’s who shined the most. I’ve been a bit harsh on the outside LB’s all season, but they showed me something on Friday. Ben Niemann was all over the field. Bo Bower was doing an excellent job of sealing the edge and holding his own in pass coverage. Something else that went somewhat unnoticed was the amount of tipped and swatted passes. Those are fun to see.
4th downs in the 4th Quarter: Iowa really put the Huskers out of their misery with three 4th down conversions in the 4th quarter. The first was a crucial 4th and 8 completion in Nebraska territory. What was awesome was that the recipient was Nebraska’s own Noah Fant. The second was a 4th and 2 conversion, also deep in Nebraska territory, when LeShun Daniels grabbed 3 yards. And to add insult to injury, CJ Beathard rushed for one more late in the game to set up the cherry-on-top TD.
Punts: The Hawks are really going to miss Ron Coluzzi next year. He’s been a secret weapon pretty much all season and Friday was no different. He averaged 41 yards a punt, but had 3 inside the 20, including 2 that were 50+ yarders that flipped the field on Nebraska.
What went wrong?
3rd down: 3-for-13. Still crappy, but not surprising.
I could probably find other stuff to whine about, but the Hawks beat the crap out of the Huskers so screw it, let’s just party.