IOWA CITY, Iowa. (KCRG) -
Game: #19 Iowa (8-3) at Nebraska (5-6)
Kickoff: 1:30 p.m.
Venue: Memorial Stadium
Nebraska holds a 29-17-3 lead in the series but Iowa has won the last four, including a 31-28 last-second victory last year in Iowa City. Iowa has won the last three meetings in Lincoln, most recently beating the Huskers 56-14 in 2017. Iowa and Nebraska have met on Black Friday for the past nine years but that tradition will end after this year’s game. In 2020 & 2021, Iowa will instead finish the season against Wisconsin while Nebraska will close against Minnesota.
With last week’s win over Illinois, head coach Kirk Ferentz won his 96th Big Ten game as Iowa’s head coach. The 96 tied his predecessor Hayden Fry for fourth place in the all-time conference win column. Ferentz’s 160 wins in all games as a member of the Big Ten ranks fifth in league history.
In his 21 years, Ferentz has had some incredible defenses but this year’s unit has been the best scoring defense in the Ferentz era. Iowa is allowing just 12.2 points per game, which is second best in the Big Ten. Led by A.J, Epenesa, the Hawkeyes ranks top 20 in scoring, passing, and total defense.
The most consistent player on the Iowa roster this season has been kicker Keith Duncan, who broke the Big Ten single-season record for most field goals made in a season last week against Illinois. Duncan now has 27 made field goals and his 83.3% is the best ever among Iowa kickers.
It will be Nate Stanley’s last conference game of his historic Iowa career on Friday and he needs just 10 yards to become the third player in program history to throw for 8,000 in his career. Stanley has 7,990 and trails Drew Tate (8,292) and Chuck Long (10,461) on the all-time list. Stanley is second on the all-time list with 66 touchdown passes, trailing only Long (74).
A look at the opponent: Nebraska With a record of 5-6, Nebraska has their season on the line on Friday. A win puts them into a bowl, a loss ends their season. The Huskers haven’t reached a bowl since the 2016 season.
Nebraska’s offense has found a late-season stride, piling up more than 500 yards in three of their last four games. Last week, Nebraska topped Maryland 54-7, which marked Nebraska’s largest margin of victory against a Big Ten opponent since they joined the league nine seasons ago.
A big reason for the offensive success has been Nebraska’s ability to create big plays. The Huskers lead the Big Ten and rank 10th nationally with 19 plays of 40+ yards. Junior JD Spielman will be a key focus for the Hawkeye defense. Spielman is the only players in Nebraska history to have a 200-yard receiving game. He hit 2,000 career receiving yards in late September against Illinois and needs just 223 yards to become NU’s all-time leader.
The Nebraska offensive success all relies on dual-threat quarterback Adrian Martinez. Martinez leads the Big Ten in total offense, averaging 276.4 yards of total offense per game (221.8 passing & 64.7 rushing). If Martinez can maintain his pace, he would join Heisman winners Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota as the only players in FBS history to average 200 passing and 50 rushing per game as both a freshman and sophomore.