Friday, November 27, 2015

Game Day: Iowa vs. Nebraska @ Lincoln for the Heroes Game V on Black Friday

Lincoln, NE -- Who brings more Leadership to the finale of the 2015 regular season in this Big Ten match up, in Lincoln?

It is Rivalry weekend in College Football ...

One of these teams will pull off history on Black Friday, #4 Iowa vs. Nebraska @ Lincoln.

  • Is it the Hawkeyes seeking to remain unbeaten and hit 12-0 for the first time in program history?
  • Nebraska has never won back to back games in Memorial Stadium against Top 10 opponents, but a win today would accomplish such a feat and will give Nebraska a 3-0 record to close out 2015, after their first 3-6 start, since 1958.
  • Iowa's best team in the modern era, ironically was the 1958 program, under College Hall of Fame coach Forrest Evashevski, who won the last Rose Bowl Game for the Hawkeyes and was named National Champion by the Football Writers of America (FWAA).
  • By the way, even with a loss, the Huskers will likely make history, as the first 5-7 team to go to a bowl game in program history, as coach Mike Riley kicks off year one at the Nebraska
  • For Kirk Ferentz, he has gone from the hot seat after a disappointing 7-6 season to end 2014 to what could be the most successful Hawkeye season, in program history.
  • Nebraska has won five national titles (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997), but it is Iowa ranked #4 in the current College Football Playoff poll, with a win goes into the Big Ten Championship Game one game away from securing a slot in the playoff for the Big Ten Conference.
  • It has been 30 years, since Iowa was ranked #1 in College Football. It has been 30 years, since Iowa has won the outright Big Ten title in football, but that game doesn't happen, until December 5th, so there are a lot of interesting elements going on, as Iowa vs. Nebraska @ Lincoln unfolds on Black Friday today.
What to watch in the Heroes Game V in Lincoln Nebraska?

For the Iowa foursome at RB, senior RB #33 Jordan Canzeri is 176 yards away
from becoming an one thousand yard runner in the 2015 season. After injuries
impacting the Iowa running backs throughout the season, all 4 backs are healthy.
OC Greg Davis has a bigger task now, how to best use the offensive parts ...
  1. The Running Game of each team or the Run Defense of each team ... make your choice. Iowa averages 215 yards per game in B1G games rushing the football, while Nebraska yields only 130.6. On the flip side, Nebraska averages 156.9 yards, while Iowa yields 121. After all, this is Big Ten Football on the last Friday of November, so a running game typically fuels an offense.
  2. Passing games will not take a back seat to the running game, not in 2015, not in the Heroes Game. Nebraska averages 243 yards per game, while Iowa gives up 217.3 yards per game. When Iowa is on offense, they average 191 yards off their passing offense, but Nebraska gives up a sizable 280 yards, so what will be on Iowa OC Greg Davis' mind in Lincoln? Pass efficiency edge is with Iowa's C.J. Beathard, who has only thrown three interceptions for the season, while Nebraska's Tommy Armstrong, Jr. threw three interceptions in his last outing, along with three touchdown passes. The Hawkeyes lead the Big Ten in takeaways. Nebraska is tied for dead last, with Maryland.
  3. Whose QB plays the better game, with feet and arm? Eye discipline in the back seven, maintaining the edge on the defensive line will be a key on the other side. The game will have a lot of twists and turns, literally. Third downs are B1G. On offense, Iowa and Nebraska are right behind Michigan State with third down efficiency in the B1G. Michigan State came into Lincoln off a bye week. Nebraska is coming off a bye week ... how does that impact QB play and the sync of the offense? Both teams are the healthiest in a long, season. Each is missing a key part, but the quarterbacks are healthy and will likely determine a lot on who the victor will be today.
  4. Which offensive line steps up and plays the better game? The Huskers only give up one sack per game, while Iowa is only getting to the quarterback once per B1G game, especially with Nebraska native, senior DE Drew Ott out for the season. The Iowa offensive line has had some breakdowns, giving up two sacks per game, which what Nebraska averages in B1G play.
  5. Which linebackers' unit steps up and leads their defense? Two years ago, the linebackers for Iowa came up B1G, as three outstanding seniors played there final B1G game for the Hawkeyes. How much blitz pressure will we see today by Iowa to get some pressure? Could turnovers become an area, like 2013 for the Hawkeyes? Iowa's Josey Jewell and Cole Fisher lead the Hawkeyes in tackles, each as 2.5 sacks. Two members of the secondary lead Nebraska in tackles, a contrast in defenses.
  6. Last year, Nebraska PK #34 Drew Brown, now a sophomore, kicked a field
    goal to send the game into overtime, as the Huskers overcame a big lead,
    and another Iowa touchdown, to remain in the game, in a 37-34 win, in Iowa City.

  7. Don't forget about special teams and the role they can play in a big rivalry game, or the 12th game of the season, whichever this one is, as a college football game? The kicking game and return game was B1G last season. Unlike last season, De-Mornay Pierson-El will not be available for Nebraska. As Nebraska coach Riley said on Monday, it will be a field position game. Nebraska has a very solid kicking game and Iowa will likely work to counter it, with two seniors at kicker and punter.
The Cornhuskers are seeking the seventh win in eight games in the series. The Hawkeyes are seeking the second straight win in Lincoln. Something is going to give on the gridiron of Memorial Stadium.

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. Nebraska is 11-3 at Memorial Stadium in that stretch, including 1-1 vs. the Hawkeyes. This year's game marks the first time since 2008 that Nebraska has had a bye week before its Black Friday contest.

It is a tall hurdle for the #3 Iowa Hawkeyes (11-0, 7-0 B1G West) remaining undefeated, as they travel to Lincoln, to face Nebraska (5-6, 3-4 B1G West).

For Iowa to win, can they win a 31-27 type game over Nebraska? 

It was a 10-7 win in 1981, Ferentz's first experience in the series. The last win, and first as a head coach was 38-17, in 2013. It will be Riley's first encounter. In 2008, his predecessor coming off a bye week won 40-31 against a 5-7 Colorado team, coming off a bye week, in 2008.

Our Pick: Iowa 31, Nebraska 27

The matchup marks the 28th time in school history Nebraska takes on an opponent with 10 or more victories. However, it is only the the second time the Huskers have faced a 10-win team during the regular season. The only previous time Nebraska has faced a 10-win opponent during the regular season was also in Lincoln on Nov. 21, 1987, when No. 1 NU lost to No. 2 and 10-0 Oklahoma, 17-7.

Oklahoma today is #3 in the College Football Playoff, lead by a former Iowa player, Bob Stoops. They will play the Bedlam game on Saturday in Stillwater for the Big 12 Championship.

Nebraska has not beaten an undefeated opponent in the final game of the regular season since a 27-18 victory over New York University in 1927. Not quite the conference opponent of year's past for Nebraska. 

Iowa seeks to make program history with a 12th win for the first time. Heroes Game V becomes the venue.

That's football ... Iowa Football in 2015.

The 2013 walk off the Heroes Game, as now Iowa junior CB Desmond King, former
LB #31 Anthony Hitchens (pictured) and now senior RG #65 Jordan Walsh return
to the Heroes Game V in Memorial Stadium. Will they get win #2 in the trophy game?

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