The Matchup (Iowa)


How can Nebraska win?

Nebraska can win by playing angry. The Huskers need to bounce back after a dismal performance last week at Michigan, and if they can use the emotion from last week’s loss to build some momentum, then they may be able to cap off the regular season with a win.

They biggest thing Nebraska will need to clean up that has plagued them the last few weeks is the offensive line. Without a strong rushing attack, the Huskers are very unthreatening on offense, as we saw against Northwestern when quarterback Taylor Martinez had arguably his best career passing game, yet the Huskers still couldn’t build drives. If running back Rex Burkhead can get going behind the offensive line early and if the defense can hold back Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg, look for the Huskers to win the inaugural Heroes Game.

How can Iowa win?

Iowa can win by being Northwestern. Of Nebraska’s three losses, two came at the hands of dangerous mobile quarterbacks. The Hawkeyes may not have the firepower to replicate Wisconsin or Michigan type attacks, but if they play well as a whole unit and limit Burkhead, like Northwestern did, they may be able to frustrate the Huskers.

Offensively, the Hawkeyes need to get going early by utilizing receiving threat Marvin McNutt (1,240 yards) and running back Marcus Coker (1,297 yards). The Huskers are at their weakest playing from behind (aside from the Ohio State miracle) and the Hawkeyes can use their tools on offense to take an early advantage if their defense can hold back Martinez and Burkhead for a few drives.

The most interesting thing to watch for will be…

Nebraska’s offensive line. The Huskers have struggled up front the past few weeks, and it has shown in a lack of yardage from Burkhead and Martinez on the ground. If they can play well early on, we could see a rushing attack like we did at the start of the season, but if not, today could be ugly. The game ultimately hinges on Nebraska’s rushing attack, and a lot of that pressure and blame/credit will need to go to the offensive line.

Who will win?

Nebraska has done well bouncing back from defeat this season. Also, Iowa lacks a wow factor at this point. This game will be a make-or-break game for fan morale on both sides, so each team has something meaningful to play for. When it boils down to matching up one-on-one, Nebraska has an advantage, with playmakers like Lavonte David and Alfonzo Dennard ready to keep Coker and McNutt in check. Look for the Huskers to win this one close.

Nebraska – 31, Iowa – 24

Photo Courtesy Associated Press

By Chris Peters