The Friday Quotebook: Hawkeyes Extend Winning Streak In Series

John Bohnenkamp

LINCOLN, Neb. — A.J. Epenesa has played at Iowa for three seasons, and hasn't lost to Nebraska.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but that was five in a row," the defensive end said after Friday's 27-24 win over the Huskers.

He's right.

Iowa has won five consecutive games against Nebraska and six of the last seven. The Hawkeyes also hold a 6-3 edge in the series since the Huskers joined the Big Ten beginning in the 2011 season.

It also was Iowa's fourth consecutive road win over the Huskers.

Nebraska leads the all-time series 29-18-3.

This game was a little feisty at times.

Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette got caught up in that with a third-quarter penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"I made a mistake when I got that penalty," Smith-Marsette said, adding, "I'm not going to back down from nobody."

The Hawkeyes reclaimed the Heroes Trophy that goes to the winner of the rivalry. Iowa is now 16-4 in their four trophy games since 2015 — 5-0 against Iowa State, Minnesota and Nebraska and 1-4 against Wisconsin.

"It feels really good carrying that trophy," Epenesa said. "That's a real nice-looking trophy. It's not as heavy as the other trophies, but it's a pretty trophy. I like it. It's always nice when you beat these guys.

"You always love winning this game, Nebraska-Iowa. They joined the Big Ten not too long ago. But it's turned into a pretty hard-hitting rivalry between the two of us. I don't know if it's whose corn is better, which team you like more, which state you're from. There's a lot of pride on both sides of this."

Asked who does have the best corn, Epenesa didn't hesitate.

"Iowa's," he said.

Scholarship day

Keith Duncan hit the game-winning field goal. Safety Jack Koerner had an interception and added 11 tackles. Kyler Schott started at left guard.

All three were walk-ons heading into the game. All three were told by coach Kirk Ferentz that they had been given scholarships.

"Certainly all three of those guys have done a great job with what they've done, going back to August," Ferentz said. "Didn't want to tell them during the game week, or the week before. I think we had our minds made up quite a while ago."

Ferentz said he enjoyed breaking the news.

"You’re like Santa Claus," he said. "It’s nice when everybody likes you."

Game notes

• Ferentz now has 97 Big Ten wins, passing former Iowa coach Hayden Fry for fourth all-time.

He has 161 wins overall at Iowa, fifth best all-time.

• Smith-Marsette had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter to give Iowa a 24-10 lead. It was the first kickoff return for a TD for the Hawkeyes since Jordan Cotton's 92-yard return against Penn State in 2012.

It was the ninth-longest kick return in school history.

• Freshman running back Tyler Goodson rushed for a career-high 116 yards. He had a 55-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, the longest TD run for the Hawkeyes this season and the longest since Akrum Wadley's 75-yard touchdown run against Nebraska in 2016.

• Iowa is now 9-3. It's the program's eighth nine-win season since Ferentz took over as coach in 1999.