Nebraska football vs Iowa: Spread, total and matchups

Nebraska football wide receiver Omar Manning (5) runs (Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports)
Nebraska football wide receiver Omar Manning (5) runs (Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports) /

When the Nebraska football team takes on the Iowa Hawkeyes on Black Fridaty, there are a couple of plays that are going to be more enticing than others.

It became clear early on that Nebraska vs Iowa would not only be for the Heroes Trophy but also a historic under total showdown.

Amidst a team that fired their offensive coordinator, coupled with a campaign for 25 points per game that fell very short, and the most turnover-prone team in college football, fans will not be anticipating an offensive firework show.

Featuring two strong defenses, what matchups are there to look forward to? What is currently being overlooked for bettors to take advantage of in this Black Friday Senior Day game?

Nebraska vs Iowa Passing Game

With Nebraska ranking 116th at 18.7 points a game and Iowa sitting at 118th at 18.5 points a game these two teams have yet to find much of a rhythm on offense this season. Both offenses are just a smidge better in their passing attack than the service academies at 131 and 126 yards per game, respectively.

Coupled with two top 20 defenses in both points allowed and yards against, you can see why the over/under was initially set at 29.5.

Iowa offers a nation’s best secondary in terms of 8.8 yards per completion allowed , however this is largely because of their outside coverage scheme. Their secondary often plays with a larger cushion, allowing for the smaller completions to happen, allowing a mid-tier 19.6 completions a game. However, one missed tackle Billy Kemp or one of the freshmen Nebraska speedsters, will result in a nice chunk play for a passing attack that can run hot and cold..

Nebraska football vs Iowa Rushing Attack

Both teams are run first in terms of their offensive identity. Nebraska boasts one of the better rushing attacks at 186 yards per game. Chubba Purdy showed that he can also be a difference maker with his legs and is likely to remain the starter Friday. While they do have more than capable running backs with Anthony Grant, and Emmett Johnson, it is no secret that the Quarterback’s ability to run is a vital part of this offense.

While it is hard to run straight at the Iowa defense, there are running lanes to be had outside of the tackles, especially when Iowa plays one of their softer coverages.

For Iowa, their rushing attack is really used to set up the play-action pass. At an inefficient

3.4 yards per run, they almost attempt to lull you to sleep, hoping to catch a cheating defense off guard for a big play. Against a Nebraska secondary that has given up ill-timed third and longs, as well as big plays on missed coverages, Iowa will be able to find some success throughout the game with the play-action pass.

Nebraska football vs Iowa Picks

Since opening, the over/under can now be found as low as 26 in some books with so many people betting the under. Given the combination of likely short fields provided by the defenses and the likely opportunistic big play potential within the matchups mentioned above, I can see the over being the safer bet for this game.

Iowa has not hit the over since September against Michigan State. In my opinion there are just too many breaks for offenses to stall out on national television this Friday completely.  Aren’t streaks made to be broken?

The spread started with Iowa as a slight favorite, however, the majority of bets have been on the Nebraska side, while over 90% of the money is on Iowa. Nebraska now stands at  a 2.5-point favorite.

With an offense that seems to be more stable under Purdy, and a defense that has proved for most of the year to be able to keep their team in striking distance, I am picking Nebraska to pull out the win against a ranked Iowa, and to cover while hitting the over in a low scoring affair.

Final Prediction: Nebraska football 21, Iowa 17