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BLACK FRIDAY MATCHUP TO WATCH: MOTIVATION VS. EVERYBODY

WILL EITHER TEAM SHOW UP TO PLAY SATURDAY?

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are. Staring down the barrel of the final regular season-game of the 2017 Big Ten slate. Iowa boasts a 6-5 record. Nebraska owns a 4-7 record. Neither team is happy with how this season shook out. One of these teams will almost certainly fire its head coach following the conclusion of this game. One of these teams will retain its head coach and expect drastically different results next season, for some reason.

So. Where does that leave us? A win against Nebraska most likely points to a trip to the Pinstripe Bowl. New York in late December is beautiful! Music City Bowl in Detroit? Even better! However, I digress. Bowl projections should probably be tabled for this pseudo-game preview.

Nebraska, as you’re all well aware, is a program in shambles. Newspaper columnists have already written their obituaries for Mike Riley. Local media credential requests are probably going in for whichever bowl UCF goes to, because people think Scott Frost is going back to Lincoln, for some reason.

The reasoning for booting Mile Riley is not unfounded. He has not found success in a place where others were able to build dynasties. He’s not the happy medium between cordial and competitive boosters couldn’t stand with Bo Pelini. And his teams have been historically bad the past three weeks.

The Nebraska defense has allowed a total of 1,598 (!) yards of offense to opposing offenses the past three games, leading to a total of 141 points allowed.

Iowa, meanwhile, has sported an offense that can be described by uninspired at best. We all know it put up just 66 yards against Wisconsin, and a cornerback was virtually Iowa’s only source of offense in that game. The Purdue game last week wasn’t much better.

We won’t get too much into #analytics or advanced stats here. I don’t think the play from a single individual athlete is going to make or break either team here. Rather, it’s going to be a collective effort between both or either team in a game of who wants it more.

That may sound like a copout, but I think it’s true. Are there enough players on Nebraska that want to give Mike Riley a proper sendoff? Have enough Hawkeyes bought into the Iowa Way to truly believe that we can hand the Huskers another 40-10 drubbing reminiscent of last year’s Black Friday game? Which team has more players with motivation to play in such a game that even the most diehard fans will have a tough time watching?

To their credit, Iowa has won the last two meetings, showing they can close out a regular season on a high note. Sometimes. Last year’s game is not something that will be soon forgotten on the Twitterverse.

And in an article about non-quantifiable motivation, I would be remiss if I did not mention the following:

Yeah. That could very well factor into how Iowa plays in Linclon.

So. We’ve got the day after Thanksgiving. One team is playing for bowl position. The other for little else than pride. And money for the coaches. Vegas sets the line at Iowa -3.5 for a game that should be pretty decent weather-wise other than some heavy wind. I’d say that favors a run-heavy team like Iowa, but our running game has been dubious at best this season.

If anything, wind would hinder the turnover-prone Husker hurler in Tanner Lee, who owns 13 interceptions this year. Will Iowa gameplan to Nebraska’s weaknesses in this one? It’s happened before. Allegedly.

We’ll know soon enough.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone. Send pics of your spreads @BHGP.