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IOWA 56, NEBRASKA 14: HUSKED

THAT WAS FUN LET’S DO IT AGAIN

Iowa v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Parker Hesse had his second touchdown in Memorial Stadium when he scoop-and-scored a Tanner Lee fumble on the very first play against Nebraska.

Or so we thought.

The fumble was ruled an incomplete pass, and Nebraska went on to punt five plays later. The defense set the tone for the day from the first drive.

That’s a good thing, because the offense and special teams were an unmitigated disaster.

Nevermind! A shaky start and a tied ballgame at half didn’t get this Iowa team down, as the Hawkeyes absolutely dumped the Huskers to go 7-5 on the regular season, 56-14.

Colten Rastetter dropped a punt right through his hands on the Nebraska 15-yard line on Iowa’s first possession of the game. The Huskers capitalized on the short field, and Stanley Morgan Jr. Had a one-handed grab on third down to make it 7-0 Huskers early.

Twelve games in, and Iowa hasn’t figured out its punting situation. Inexcusable is right.

Did I say punting? I meant special teams as a whole. Matt VandeBerg fair caught a punt while the nearest defender was 8 yards away, and Ihmir Smith-Marsette stepped out of bounds on the one yard-line on the ensuing kick return. Both would make up for these gaffes later on.

Thank your lucky stars for Akrum Wadley, who got the Hawkeyes out of the shadow of their own goalpost on a signature run. A 4th-down QB sneak, ISM screen, and more heroics from Wadley later tie it up. Fifteen plays. 99 yards. 7:18 off the clock. 7-7.

Some classic bend-don’t-break Iowa defense forced a field goal for Nebraska on the ensuing drive. The Huskers, however, thought they could pull a fast one on Nathan Bazata and Phil Parker. They were wrong.

Five plays later, Iowa punted it away after Nathan Stanley crumbled under pressure on third down, missing a wide-open Nick Easley.

Nebraska capitalized the following drive. Tanner Lee carved apart an Iowa defensive backfield that had two true freshman on the field in Geno Stone and Matt Hankins. But Josh Jackson was rendered human, as Lee found Morgan Jr. once again on third down and 8 for a 28-yard TD catch. Poor safety play made it easy for both Lee and Morgan Jr.

14-7 Nebraska.

Noah Fant dropped an easy catch on third down the ensuing drive to give it back to the Huskers right away. Dropped passes, rinse, repeat. Iowa, however, was gifted an obvious running into the punter call to give the Hawks a second chance.

Akrum Wadley did some more Akrum Wadley things, and Fant redeemed himself on third and goal, hauling in his ninth touchdown of the year — the most in a single season by an Iowa tight end.

He wasn’t done.

14-14.

Nebraska got the ball with 20 seconds left in the half and the Huskers were content to go into the half knotted up after a screen that went for 5 yards.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette got Iowa off to a HOT start in the second half, returning Nebraska’s kick 74 yards for a touchdown. There’s that redemption I was talking about.

Or so we thought. A block in the back by Geno Stone on the 20 yard-line brought it back to erase the score.

Six plays later, following a Drake Kulick 3rd-and-1 conversion, Akrum Wadley punched it in for his 33rd career touchdown, good for third in school history.

21-14 Iowa.

Parker Hesse sacked Tanner Lee on first down to set up the Huskers in a hole early. Solid defense all-around forced a punt on Nebraska’s first offensive drive in the second half, and a nice little Matt VandeBerg punt return (I think that’s the first time those words have ever been typed) set Iowa up in a position to succeed on its 44 yard-line.

A beautiful play-action to Fant set Iowa up on Nebraska’s 15. James Butler would only need one carry to punch it in from there for his first touchdown as a Hawkeye.

28-14.

Tanner Lee then did Tanner Lee things. He threw his 14th interception of the season right into the chest of Ben Niemann on his own 40-yard line.

Step on the throat time.

Akrum Wadley. Twenty-nine yards.

Iowa 35-14.

The run put him in good company.

Another Nebraska three-and-out led Iowa to a failed fourth down attempt. A dropped pick from Josh Jackson set up a failed fourth down conversion for Nebraska as well with 1:39 to go in the quarter. Geno Stone made a big stop to give Iowa the ball on its 32.

Brian Ferentz kept his foot on the gas with a misdirection play to TJ Hockenson. Noah Fant then took it to the house for 68 yards. Fant was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct on the touchdown. Good thing there’s just one game left, otherwise Fant may be stuck in the doghouse. It’s like we rediscovered Fant and Wadley are our two best offensive weapons this week!

42-14.

Josey Jewell had an interception in the fourth. Ivory Kelly-Martin and Toren Young got some carries. Tyler Wiegers got in the ballgame. Nebraska gave up. Memorial Stadium emptied. Young punched one in.

49-14.

IKM had a huge run to set up another touchdown.

56-14.

Tanner Lee threw another pick. This one to Kristian Welch. Iowa was content to run it out, and so was Nebraska with under three minutes to play.

And that’s all she wrote.

So. Iowa finishes the regular at 7-5. Three out of four trophies are in the case. A drubbing to Ohio State is under the belt. Are we content with this? Probably not.

But a bowl game victory for the first time in five years would help heal some wounds.

Enjoy the weekend everyone, and Go Hawks. Thanks for sticking with us this season. Let’s get pumped for basketball.