Friday, 27 November 2015

No. 3 Iowa beats Nebraska to move to 12-0 for first time

Breaking down No. 3 Iowa's 28-20 win Saturday against Nebraska:

THE BIG PICTURE: Iowa took advantage of Nebraska’s carelessness — a number of head-scratching turnovers, a slew of penalties — to run past the rival Cornhuskers and maintain a perfect record in advance of the Big Ten Conference championship game. As throughout its undefeated season, Iowa contrasted its opponent’s sloppiness by protecting the football and capitalizing on mistakes.

Not that Iowa didn’t show some flash: Jordan Canzeri had two long touchdown runs on back-to-back possessions, with the latter, a 68-yard untouched run down the left sideline, putting Nebraska down by 11 points in the third quarter. Even the Hawkeyes’ meat-and-potatoes style can have a little flavor.

WHAT WE’LL BE TALKING ABOUT: Iowa moves one win closer to securing a spot in the Playoff field, with next weekend’s game against Michigan State in the Big Ten title game essentially serving as an in-or-out matchup for both teams — should the Spartans get past Penn State on Saturday.

As with most Iowa wins, this one was not … aesthetically pleasing. But that’s Iowa football, for better or worse, and the unbeaten Hawkeyes continued their charge for a perfect regular season and top-four finish. While this style of play has Iowa flying under the radar — and very likely an underdog against the Spartans, let alone Clemson, Alabama or another in the Playoff — it also has Iowa unbeaten.
BREAKOUT PLAYER: Iowa freshman defensive end Parker Hesse was inserted into the starting lineup in October, after the Hawkeyes lost all-conference senior Drew Ott to a season-ending knee injury. While Ott’s proved difficult to replace, Hesse came through with the Hawkeyes’ biggest defensive play of the game: With Nebraska on its own goal line, Hesse tipped and then intercepted a Tommy Armstrong attempt and walked into the end zone for a four-yard touchdown. That gave the Hawkeyes a 14-7 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

KEY STAT: Nebraska will finish with a losing record for just the third time since 1961. Barring a bowl bid and victory, this year’s team will tie for the Cornhuskers’ most losses in a season since 1958. For Iowa, the 12th victory sets a program record.

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