Monday, November 23, 2015

Black Friday: The Hawkeyes from Iowa vs. the Huskers from Nebraska @ Lincoln for a Crossroads Battle in the Heroes Game

Iowa RB #33 Jordan Canzeri, now a senior, running for yardage during the 2013
Heroes Game between Iowa and Nebraska. The Hawkeyes won 38-17 in Lincoln.
First win in the series, since Iowa's 1981 win in Iowa City. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz
was a first year OL coach during the 1981 season. He has experienced a 2-6 record
over the 26 seasons on the sidelines at Iowa, with a 1-1 record as an assistant.
Lincoln, NE -- On Black Friday, it will be the fifth meeting between, now an unbeaten, #3 Iowa (11-0, 7-0 B1G West) and Nebraska (5-6, 3-4 B1G West), since the Huskers joined the Big Ten Conference in 2011. The Huskers have fallen from seven straight seasons, with a minimum of nine wins and four losses, since first year of Mike Riley arrived. moved over from Oregon State, after 14 years, in between his time leading the Beavers, with a stint in the NFL between.

The game will draw a national audience on ABC, with a 2:30 Friday kickoff,
with Adam Amin, Kelly Stouffer and Olivia Harlan announcing and reporting.
Many national talking heads have been waiting for the ax to fall
on Iowa, as one of only two unbeaten teams left in the FBS.
Nebraska's post-Thanksgiving game has been nationally televised by ABC each year since 1991 (25 games). In addition to the past four years, Nebraska and Iowa also closed the regular season against each other nine times from 1892 to 1916.

Nebraska junior WR #1 Jordan Westercamp in a non-conference game for the
Huskers. Here is a link to his comments ahead of the game with Iowa.
Since the 2002 season, both Iowa and Nebraska have 115 wins to rank tied for 19th in the FBS. The Cornhuskers won three mythical national titles in the 1990s and have not participated in a BCS bowl, since the 2001 season, as a member of the Big 12. The Huskers lost to BCS champion, Miami-FL to finish the 2001 season. They are now on their fourth head football coach, since the success of Bob Devaney and Dr. Tom Osborne in Lincoln 

The Hawkeyes have played in two BCS bowl games (2002, 2009), won two Big Ten co-championships (2002, 2004) and are seeking an opportunity to play in their first College Football Playoff, if they can defeat Nebraska on Black Friday, then win in the Big Ten Championship Game on December 5th. Ohio State won the inaugural College Football Playoff last year, after winning the Big Ten Conference with an 8-0 record and win over Wisconsin in the Championship Game.

Iowa WR #4 Tevaun Smith, now a senior, scores in the 2014 game against
Nebraska S #28 Bryerson Cockrell, now a senior. It should be another battle
during the Heroes game this Friday.
The Hawkeyes are coming off a 40-20 win at home against Purdue to clinch the Big Ten West Division title and a date in the Big Ten Championship Game. Iowa is 11-0 for the first time in program and is seeking to finish undefeated for the first time, since back to back 7-0 finishes in 1921 and 1922. It would only be the fifth time in the regular season that Iowa finished undefeated. Iowa head coach is seeking his second 8-0 finish in the Big Ten, as well. His first was in 2009.

The Huskers are looking to close out November on a three game winning streak, after opening 3-6 for the first time, since the 1958. season. The last lost by the Huskers was on Halloween with a 55-45 loss @ Purdue. Nebraska is 1-4 vs. common opponents with Iowa, all in the B1G West.

Nebraska junior QB #4 Tommy Armstrong missed the game in 2013, but
lead the 37-34 comeback victory in OT during last year's game in Iowa City.
Armstrong gives Nebraska an option with his feet and threw the air.
Talk about crossroads with Iowa and Nebraska, the Hawkeyes were considered a mythical national champion in 1958, so a win over Nebraska and the Big Ten East winner in the Big Ten Championship Game could put Iowa on path to revisiting their glory days of the 1950s. Something the Huskers have over Iowa with the success under both Devaney (1970s) and Osborne (1990s), during the days of mythical championships. Nebraska has won five national titles (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997).

Dean of the Big Ten, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz during the 2013
game, which was his first victory against Nebraska as a head coach.
Ferentz is enjoying his best season in his 17th year at the helm.
Iowa was last ranked #1 in the regular season back in 1985. The Hawkeyes have celebrated the 30th anniversary of their last outright Big Ten Championship with a great 11-0 start and Big Ten West division title. Now, with the Championship Game, there are no more co-champions in the Big Ten. 

Huskers, Hawkeyes Set to Battle for Heroes Trophy

Nebraska and Iowa will battle for the Heroes Trophy when they hit the field at Memorial Stadium on Friday. The HyVee Heroes Game is the annual trophy game between Nebraska and Iowa. While both teams will aim to win the trophy on the field, both Nebraska and Iowa wished to make their annual meeting about more than just winning a football game. With that in mind, the schools partnered together to not only create a trophy, but to use a national stage to honor a citizen hero from each state.

In addition to the trophy that will be claimed by the winner of the game, both an Iowa and Nebraska native will be honored for extraordinary acts. Those winners will be announced early this week.

Nebraska owns a 19-6 record since 1990 in games on the day after Thanksgiving, including a 5-1 record against Okahoma, an 11-4 mark against Colorado and 3-1 against Iowa. Definately, a new tradition for Iowa, who lost the two first meetings with Nebraska, but won 38-17 in Lincoln in 2013 and nearly won in 2014, if not for a great comeback by the Huskers, after Iowa took a 24-7 lead, only to lose in Overtime 37-34 in Iowa City.

Iowa C #63 Austin Blythe and TE #80 Henry Krieger Coble, now seniors in
2015, celebrating a rushing touchdown during the 2013 win at Lincoln.
In the six games played from 1979-82 and 1999-2000, Iowa only won one game, the first season, when Kirk Ferentz arrived as an offensive line coach under Hayden Fry in 1981. The other five games were one sided affairs with the Huskers winning. But, since 2011 and Nebraska's arrival to the Big Ten, the series has begun to become competitive for Iowa, fueled mostly by the past two games.

This is the 46th game in the series, with Nebraska owning a 29-13-3 lead overall. But, the fourth all-time winning program in FBS is tied for 19th, since 2002, with Iowa and Virginia. The list includes the following: Boise State (155); Ohio State (152); Oklahoma (147); LSU (141); USC (141); Alabama (137); TCU (134); Georgia (136); Oregon (134); Florida State (133); Texas (130); Wisconsin (130); Virginia Tech (128); Florida (127); Auburn (123); Utah (120); West Virginia (120); Virginia (115); Iowa (115); Nebraska (115); Miami, FL (112); Michigan (111); Texas Tech (110).

Iowa P #16 Dillion Kidd, now a senior, in last year's Heroes Game.
Special teams will be a big area for both teams. It could be the area of the
game that determines who wins and who doesn't on Black Friday?
This season, the Hawkeyes are 4-0 on the road against Power 5 programs with a pair of wins over ranked opponents (#18 Wisconsin; #20 Northwestern). Iowa is one of only four schools with multiple road wins over ranked opponents: Alabama (3), Michigan State (2) and UCLA (2). Nebraska only has one Power 5 win at home in the Big Ten, with a controversial one point win over now #6 Michigan State. 

Can Nebraska spoil Iowa's dream season?

The Hawkeyes are also right in the thick of the race for a spot in the College Football Playoff, ranking fifth in the Nov. 17 poll. Iowa checks in at No. 3 in this week's Associated Press Poll and USA Today Coaches polls. The strength of the Hawkeyes has been a strong defense that has limited opponents to just 18.5 points per game and 322.5 yards of total offense.

Iowa QB #16 C.J. Beathard , now a junior, back during the 2013 win over the
Huskers. Since his first start in 2014 at Purdue and his 11 starts throughout
the 2015 season, Beathard is 12-0 as a starter, including 5 road wins. He
scored a rushing TD in the game against Nebraska in a mop up role.
A victory would give Nebraska two wins over top-10 teams in the month of November, after a 39-38 win over Michigan State on Nov. 7. It would mark the first time since 1999 that Nebraska has defeated a pair of top-10 teams in the same season.

Iowa will find out on Tuesday night, if they move up in this week's College Football Playoff poll. The top four teams on Dec. 6 advance to the CFP semifinals on Dec. 31 at one of two locations: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas; Capital One Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. The semifinal winners advance to the National Championship Game on, Jan. 11 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Who's In?
The Hawkeyes celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of three Rose Bowl births under Coach Fry in 2015. The Hawkeyes have not played in the Rose Bowl, since the 1990 season, but Ferentz with the right ranking could find the Hawkeyes in their third Orange Bowl, as part of the CFP, if Iowa can finish out 8-0 in the Big Ten regular season and win the Big Ten Championship? 

It is the fourth and final trophy game on Iowa’s schedule in 2015: Iowa State (Cy-Hawk: W, 31-17), Wisconsin (Heartland; W, 10-6), Minnesota (Floyd of Rosedale: W, 40-35). Iowa has scored over 30 points in the last two meetings, after scoring as many as 30 points just twice in the first 43 meetings. Nebraska scored 30 points for the first time, in last year's win, after 20 points or under the last three meetings, since joining the conference.

Of course, Iowa has secured a West division trophy and will be playing for a Big Ten Championship trophy on December 5th. But, the Heroes Game is up first and this one should have a lot of national interest, as Iowa seeks to come out of no where to crash the 2015 College Football Playoff.

Nebraska enters the game with a 5-6 record and a 3-4 mark in Big Ten play, following a 31-14 victory at Rutgers on Nov. 14. Nebraska comes into the matchup following a bye week after playing 11 straight weeks to open the season. A win over Iowa would even the Huskers' record at 6-6 and secure a bowl bid for Nebraska.

Iowa QB #16 C.J. Beathard running the ball as a freshman against Nebraska,
back during the 2013 game. Junior C.J. Beathard is one of only four Power 5
conference quarterbacks to win each of their first 12 career starts since 2010.
Both teams have the potential to be balanced in all three phases of the game, but Iowa has really put it together in 2015, on way to their first 11-0 start in program history.

  • Iowa has a balanced offense. Its 4,601 total yards are divided by 2,291 yards rushing, and 2,310 yards passing. 
  • Iowa has 33 rushing touchdowns, first in the Big Ten and fifth nationally. 
  • The Hawkeyes have scored 30-plus points in five straight Big Ten games for the first time in school history, including back-to-back 40-point outbursts the last two weeks against Minnesota and Purdue. 
  • Iowa has six touchdown drives over 90 yards and 18 touchdown drives over 75 yards. 
  • Iowa has allowed seven rushing touchdowns; tying Michigan for No. 1 in the conference and fourth nationally. 
  • Iowa leads the Big Ten in interceptions (13), takeaways (21), and turnover margin (+11). 
  • Limiting big plays: Iowa has allowed 12 scrimmage plays of 30-plus yards. Only Michigan (11) has allowed fewer among Big Ten teams. 
  • Marshall Koehn’s 57-yard game-winning field goal vs. Pitt is the second longest in school history and the second longest in FBS this season. 
  • Iowa’s two-man punt team of Dillon Kidd (42.6) and Marshall Koehn (45.0) rank fourth in the Big Ten averaging 42.0 yards per punt. 
  • Desmond King averages 25.6 yards on KO returns (No. 2 in Big Ten) and 12.7 yards per punt return (No. 3 in the Big Ten).
In 2013, former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, who coached from 2008 to 2014 in
Lincoln, congratulating Iowa DC Phil Parker after Iowa's first road win in the
series, since the 1946 game in Lincoln. Iowa's turnaround has been shown,
with a solid defense, eliminating a lot of explosion plays that hurt Iowa in '14.
The Huskers' one-point win over Michigan State reversed the trend of close setbacks Nebraska has suffered through in 2015. Nebraska's six losses have came by a total of 23 points, with the first five by a total of 13 points. Nebraska's first four losses were especially difficult. Each of the first four setbacks occurred with the opponent scoring the winning points on the game's final play or in overtime.

There is a reason Vegas and many national talking heads have this game as a very close one. Nebraska was very close to having a very good first season under Riley. The Huskers have won three of the last five games in the Big Ten.

Nebraska has never defeated top-10 opponents in consecutive home games.The Huskers are 3-1 against ranked Big Ten teams at Memorial Stadium since 2011. Nebraska is 4-6 overall against ranked Big Ten teams since joining the league.

The Hawkeyes have outscored their opponents 71-23 in the first quarter, and 44-3 in the final two minutes of the first half. Iowa has trailed just five times this season, never by more than seven points. The Hawkeyes trailed by seven at Iowa State on two occasions, 10-3, 17-10. Iowa trailed 3-0 at Wisconsin, 7-6 against Illinois, and 17-14 at Indiana. In 660 minutes played, Iowa has trailed for 55:15.

Nebraska DE #95 Jack Ganwish is one of 18 seniors on the Huskers roster.
It will be Senior Day for 18 Nebraska seniors. The 2015 seniors hail from eight states, including nine native Nebraskans. The senior class also features three players from Texas and one each from Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Wisconsin.

A loss on Black Friday would be the first 5-7 season for Nebraska, since the 65-51 loss on Black Friday to Colorado to end the 2007 season. That was the final season, under four year coach Bill Callahan, who also finished 5-6 in his first season, with a 26-20 loss in Lincoln.

Nebraska coach Mike Riley is in his first season leading the Huskers. He meet
with the media on Monday ahead of this week's game against Iowa. Iowa
meets with the media on Tuesday. Link to Riley's discussion with media.
This is coach Riley's first Black Friday game in Lincoln, as Nebraska's first year coach. It is coach Ferentz's third Black Friday game in Lincoln, after losing his first in 2011 20-7 and winning his second 38-17 in 2013.

Iowa is a one point favorite. A six point computer favorite by one simulation service listed on Massey. Iowa is 4-0 on the road against the spread in 2015.

Iowa CB #14 Desmond King, now a junior, with the Heroes Trophy, after
the 2013 win, Iowa's only victory, since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011.

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