Monday, November 21, 2011

Are We Ready for some Football: The Heroes Game debuts on Black Friday

For the University of Iowa and its fans, a football game the day after Thanksgiving has been on the mind of a lot of people. Football in the regular season, after Thanksgiving is rather new for most Big Ten programs.

However, for Iowa's opponent on Black Friday, playing football has been a tradition dating back to the days of the old Big 8 Conference and the Nebraska-OU series. After the Big 12 Conference was created, the game was Colorado-Nebraska, in the annual game, after Thanksgiving.

Next: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers, in a new Big Ten rivalry game.

Both teams enter the game 4-3 in the Legends division. Depending on how Michigan (5-3 in the Legends) does hosting Ohio State (3-4 in Leaders) on Saturday, the game is likely for third place in the division. A win by Ohio State on Ann Arbor would throw the winner of the Iowa-Nebraska into a tw0-way tie for second place in the first Legends division race.

Michigan State (6-1 in the Legends) will represent the division in the first Big Ten title game in Indianapolis on Saturday, December 3Rd. The winner of the Penn State (6-1 the in Leaders) at Wisconsin (5-2 in the Leaders) will determine, who plays Michigan State in the title game. Michigan State plays Northwestern (3-4 in Leaders).

Nebraska holds a 26-12-3 advantage in the series that began with a 22-0 Iowa victory in 1891. The teams have not met since 2000 and the Huskers have won the last three meetings. Nebraska prevailed 42-13 in Lincoln in 2000 and won 42-7 in Iowa City in 1999 in the most recent meetings. The 1999 contest in Kinnick Stadium marked Coach Kirk Ferentz' first game as Iowa's head coach.

Iowa's most recent win in the series was a 10-7 victory at Iowa City in 1981. That game marked the first game in which Kirk Ferentz served as an Iowa assistant, being named Iowa's offensive line coach prior to the season.

Nebraska holds a 14-2-1 advantage in games played in Lincoln. Iowa has not won in Lincoln since a 33-13 win in 1933, having lost on its last four visits to Memorial Stadium. The first 10 games in the series were played in either Omaha (eight games) or Council Bluffs (two games). The series was even at 4-4-2 in those 10 meetings.

Nebraska won last meeting in series

Nebraska outscored Iowa 21-0 in the second half in pulling away to a 42-13 win over the Hawkeyes in Lincoln on Sept. 23, 2000, when the teams last met. Iowa drove 76 yards for a touchdown on its opening possession for a 7-0 lead, but the Huskers tied the game midway through the period and the teams were tied 7-7 after one quarter. Nebraska took a 14-7 lead in the second period before Iowa cut the deficit to a single point on Nate Kaeding field goals of 40 and 39 yards. Nebraska scored on a 43-yard pass on the final play of the first half for a 21-13 halftime advantage.

The Huskers dominated the second half. Iowa had just one possession in the final two quarters of more than six plays. Still, Nebraska led by a 28-13 margin before collecting two touchdowns in the final 1:27 of the fourth quarter. The big difference in the contest was rushing yardage, as Nebraska held a 331-47 advantage. In total offense, the Huskers held a 490-299 advantage. RB Ladell Betts led Iowa's rushing attack with 75 yards on 20 carries, while QB Scott Mullen completed 19-40 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions. LB Mike Dolezal led Iowa's defense with 17 tackles. LB Roger Meyer had two tackles for loss and DL Jerry Montgomery recovered a fumble.

Iowa is 7-4 heading into the 2011 game in Lincoln. Nebraska is 8-3. In 2000, Iowa finished 3-9, while Nebraska finished 10-2. This year's game will be like no other in the Iowa-Nebraska series, since the Cornhuskers have now joined the Big Ten Conference.

No comments: