Your Iowa Hawkeyes overcame a bit of a rocky first half to stuff Nebraska’s turkey en route to a 26-20 win, Iowa’s sixth in a row over the Huskers on Black Friday.
Iowa got the ball to start the game and put itself up early following a drive that saw an incredible 22-yard catch from Shaun Beyer and an egregious late hit penalty on Nebraska. The Hawkeyes came away with just three points when it had an opportunity to get seven, which would be emblematic of the rest of the half slash game.
Hope looked like it would spring eternal on the defensive side of the ball for the Hawks as a big tackle for a loss from Daviyon Nixon preceded a sack from Seth Benson, hamstringing the first offensive drive for Nebby.
A bad drop from Tyrone Tracy kept Iowa from a big gain on first down on Iowa’s next drive, and the Hawkeyes eventually did a surrender punt from Nebraska’s 37 yard line to end the series. While Tory Taylor was able to work his magic and get the punt downed at the 2, one would’ve liked to see more out of the Iowa offense against the No. 13 defense in the Big Ten.
Daviyon Nixon and Matt Hankins had an answer for Marvin Scott and Oliver Martin on the next drive, and Charlie Jones brought the ensuing punt back to midfield after a 31-yard return.
Spencer Petras then put together perhaps his best drive of his career after threading the ball to a wide open Tyrone Tracy in the end zone to go up 10-0. A nice catch and run from Brandon Smith and a very nice fingertip grab from Ihmir Smith-Marsette got Iowa to the sweet spot.
Two drives was enough for Scott Frost to pull Adrian Martinez and put in Luke McCaffrey. And his psychotic tendencies might’ve led him in the right direction, albeit briefly. McCaffrey’s legs spelt trouble around Iowa’s defensive edges and set up the first points for Nebraska, 10-3.
Petras followed up his best drive at Iowa with probably his worst drive, gifting Nebraska’s Dicaprio Bootle (!) with the ball at midfield on third down, the result of a horribad throw.
Nebraska came away with just 3 points on the short field, and Iowa answered with 3 of its own following a 12-play, 55 yard drive. A pass to an open Nico Ragaini in the endzone went off his finger tips, and it’s up to you who you want to blame the missed opportunity on.
Apparently Frost had seen enough of McCaffrey, and put Martinez back in. After some drama between he and the Nebraska center, Martinez converted 3rd and 23 to tight end Austin Allen, and punched it in a few plays later to make it 13-13 at half.
One could lament Iowa’s quarterback play in the first 30 minutes, but this blogger posits it was mostly the playcalling—along with 2 yards a carry against a defense allowing 4.5 yards a pop—that broke the camel’s back for a not great half of football.
Iowa and Nebraska traded touchdowns to start the second frame. Iowa’s score came on a 14-play, 68-yard drive that featured a 16-yard catch from Ragaini, a 4th down conversion from Sam LaPorta. and a nice wiggle into the endzone from Mekhi Sargent.
Four plays later, Iowa got itself the ball back after Nixon disrupted yet another drive. Iowa could only go 30 yards on 8 plays, but it was enough to get the lead back after more perfection from Keith Duncan.
A big friggin’ hold on Nixon put the kibosh on Nebraska’s next drive. With the chance to make it a two score lead, Iowa’s offense laid a big fat goose egg within its own 15.
Luckily, Scott Frost doesn’t care much for special teams, and Terry Roberts brought Iowa back to life.
Duncan handed Iowa his fourth field goal of the day to give the Hawks a 6 point cushion with 8 minutes to go.
Starting at their own 35, Phil Parker dared McCaffrey and Nebraska to go and take the lead. Six plays and 7 yards later, PP remains the king of truth or dare as Martinez was inserted to the drive and eventually flushed out on second and third downs.
Frost’s irrational quarterback decision-making is what cost his team a game Iowa was willing to give up more than once throughout 60 minutes of play.
Iowa got the ball back up 6 with 5 1⁄2 to play. A series of Goodson runs and a nice 15-yarder to LaPorta wasn’t enough to put it in the end zone, but it was enough to give Duncan a chance at a career-high 51-yarder with the wind at his back.
The ball hit the crossbar, and Nebraska would have a chance to march the field with under two minutes to go and a timeout left. Iowa could’ve tried to run it behind the ‘Baum squad. It could’ve let Tory Taylor do his thing. But it didn’t, and Nebraska had life.
A scary play to Austin Allen didn’t lead to much else, thankfully, as Chauncey Golston ripped the ball out of Martinez’s hands two plays letter, and Zach VanValkenburg came up with his fourth fumble recovery in six games.
Victory formation rounded out the win for Iowa, and Scott Frost remains winless against Iowa.
Happy Thanksgiving and to hell with Nebraska.