Most of you know the deal by now. I write all of this in real time and I don’t edit before posting because editing is for the birds. Be nice.
It’s Black Friday, I just squatted a million pounds to burn off my two Giving of Thanks parties, I got the laptop open, the iced coffee on the table and I’m feeling good, feeling right.
That can only mean one thing... Hawks by a hundred, thousand, million.
Just a reminder before we actually kick this thing off, there is a lot on the line today: The Heroes Trophy, Kirk’s Big-8 Bonus, and a potential trip to the Outback, Citrus or Holiday bowl.
Iowa wins the toss and elects to receive in the North Endzone. I’m not embellishing even the slightest when I tell you all that this bad boy is already chippy. I’ve never seen so much jawing on an opening kick off in a long, long time. You can tell how important this game is for Nebraska.
On the opening drive, Brian Ferentz mixed in a healthy dose of the run game switching out Toren Young and Mekhi Sargent who patiently let the big dogs eat in front of them before hitting a hole for what seemed like six yards per car. It’s a game plan that has worked successfully all season long against Nebraska who gives up tons and tons of yardage.
After a few more runs for first downs, Stanley dropped back and found Brandon Smith on a vertical route for a beautiful pitch and catch for a touchdown to cap off an 11-play, 79-yard drive that took over five minutes. I guess this is why Kirk and Brian wanted the ball to start the game. They knew exactly how they would exploit this D.
7-0 Hawkeyes and the Nebraska defense looks as soft as last nights mashed potatoes.
From the opening play, it’s obvious what Scott Frost is looking to do today. He’s going to force Iowa to spread out and stop quick throws and screens to limit Iowa’s pass rush. With the linebacking core that Iowa has, it’s going to be a tall task to ask them to defend those plays all day long.
And it worked to perfection 12-plays later with Adrian Martinez hitting Jack Stoll for a quick hitting 4-yard touchdown.
7-7, and this could look like Monday night’s NFL game with the way these defenses started out.
Iowa’s second drive of the game was very, VERY much the same as their first. Iowa’s run game is absolutely wrecking this Nebraska defense and Brian Ferentz has no problem making them choke on it at this point. After 13 total plays, Toren Young cuts back and finds the endzone for a 4-yard run to cap off an 85-yard drive for a touchdown.
14-7, Iowa and it’s clear the Cornhuskers defensive line is not up to the task to take this kind of beating. If things keep up this way, Nebraska’s offense will eventually run out of time to keep up with Iowa’s.
Or, maybe not. Once again, Iowa’s linebackers are not athletically good enough to keep up with these quick slants and dump offs that eventually took the Cornhuskers deep in Iowa territory. Eventually facing third and long, Phil Parker had Anthony Nelson spy Martinez and the Iowa defense was able to stop him short of the first down forcing a field goal try.
14-10, and that has to feel like a major win for a defense that just got shredded once again.
And this is where I start to freak out. After two successful drives where Iowa completely dominated the trenches and Iowa’s runningbacks broke off six and seven yard runs in chunks, Brian Ferentz elects to call three straight passing plays that results in the first three-and-out of the day. Nebraska’s sidelines have to be ecstatic with this. Iowa just rushed for 78-yards on the first two drives. 78!
I don’t know if he out thinks himself, or just refuses to believe that Iowa can run the football, but either way, that wasn’t great.
Thankfully, Iowa’s pass rush showed up once Nebraska crossed into Iowa territory with back-to-back sacks for Maui and Anthony Nelson. Cornhuskers punt with eight minutes left in the half.
If I’m going to be critical, I also need to give credit where credit is due. Brian got back to what worked the first two drives... running the rock down the Cornhuskers throat. After a big fourth down conversion pass from Stanley to nicely run out route from Ninck Easley, Sargent would find the end zone again after a 16-yard run for a touchdown.
21-10, GOOD BRIAN! GOOD!!!!
Iowa's 3 touchdown drives — 39 plays, 249 yards, 19:13.— John Bohnenkamp (@johnbohnenkamp) November 23, 2018
Also, according to Matt Benson, Iowa’s 143-rushing yards are the most by the Hawkeyes in a first half since... they had 187 against Nebraska in 2016. Stick to what works and we shall all be rewarded.
With limited time left in the second quarter, Iowa stuffed Nebraska on third down in Iowa territory after a fantastic play from Amani Hooker and Geno Stone. After some debate, Scott Frost elected to kick the field goal from 51-yards out. Kirk double iced Nebraska’s freshman kicker who would end up coming short on the attempt... BUT, Riley Moss jumped offsides pushing Barret Pickering up the five yards he needed. You know what happened next...
21-13 at the half. What a killer mistake from Moss... feel like we’ve said that before.
After taking a knee instead calling a fair catch Nebraska got the ball at it’s 7-yard line. After a Anthony Nelson sack, Nebraska was forced to punt and Iowa is in business early.
Facing an early third down and long, Nate Stanley throws his best ball of the day to Brandon Smith who goes up and gets it and taps a foot for the first. I can’t tell you all enough how pivotal that conversion was. Nebraska might be able to strike quickly, but the way Iowa is putting up long, extended drives, they’ll eventually be unable to keep up.
A few plays later, Stanley finds Sargent on a quick toss out of the back field for a touchdown. Big, big, big sell by Fant to get a bunch of attention that would lead to the wide open space for Sargent to gallop into the endzone.
28-13 and Nebraska is on the ropes.
On the kickoff, Nebraska gets called for a holding penalty that pushed them back to their own 10-yard line. After two plays that go nowhere and fast, the Cornhuskers were faced with a third and long when Anthony Nelson hits home again, this time swatting the ball out of Martinez’s hands that results in an incomplete pass. Two back-to-back three and out’s for Frost. Time to pound this thing into oblivion.
On the first play, Toren Young forces his way through a weak blitz before getting stopped on the Nebraska 21-yard line. Tick, tick, tick. After being an incomplete pass on third down, Iowa lined up for a field goal to take the three score lead... but decided to run a fake that Nebraska sniffed out from the onset. Iowa didn’t convert the first down on a shuffle pass to Hockenson and Nebraska takes over from the 3-yard line.
If it works, everyone loves it. It didn’t, so everyone hates it. At this point, whatever.
Nebraska on the other hand, they land the fake punt and are driving now. And the driving continues after another and yet another fourth down before scoring a touchdown capping off a 14-play 98-yard drive.
28-20 and that fake field goal looks NOT great.
After an Iowa three-and-out, Nebraska gets tripped up on third-and-six and goes for it once again on fourth down and Martinez converts with his legs after some quick pressure up the middle. Cornhuskers are now four-for... PICK! Martinez throws it up for grabs and Mmichel Ojemudia finally takes advantage of Martinez questionable decision making.
Michael Ojemudia's interception stops Nebraska's drive. pic.twitter.com/xgk4hSuwgK— On Iowa (@GazetteOnIowa) November 23, 2018
Iowa takes over at it’s own 48-yard line with a little over nine minutes left. Time to dial up one of those five minute drives that end in seven.
On the first play from scrimmage, Sarget finds major daylight and scampers for 32-yards. Alright, maybe just a drive that ends in seven will suffice just fine. Also, Sargent is averaging 7.4 yards per carry on the day. Unreal Black Friday performance.
Because we can’t have nice things, Iowa gets shut down and are forced to kick the field goal. Of course, they promptly miss it.
You hear that folks? That’s the door opening.
Nebraska quickly moves the ball into Iowa territory, convert on a third-and-five on a quick swing pass that they’ve run probably 10 times today, Martinez rushes up the middle for 14-yards on a called draw play, and eventually push into the redzone again. Facing a third-and-one on the five yard line, Martinez finds Morgan to make it a first-and goal situation. On the next play, Martinez rolls right into the end zone like he was just strolling around the park.
Having to go for two, Martinez scrambles around for what seemed like five minutes and finds Kade Warner in the endzone to convert.
13-plays, 80-yards. Tied game.
28-28, three minutes for Iowa to win this thing outright.
Iowa eventually gets caught with a third-and-eleven (this after a tremendous third down conversion earlier in the drive) and Sargent gets stuffed. Iowa then elects to try and draw Nebraska offsides, call a timeout, Stanley comes back out and hits Hockenson for a 10-yard pass for a first down.
Three seconds left and Recinos has a 41-yard field goal for the win...
IOWA WINS! IOWA WINS! HOLY SHIT WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST WATCH IT WAS LIKE WE DIDNT WANT TO WIN AND THEN WE DID WANT TO WIN AND THEN WE DID WIN.
Play the damn polka!