The Breakdown: Iowa vs. Nebraska
Breaking down Friday's game between Iowa and Nebraska.
Time and place — 1:30 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
TV — BTN (Kevin Kugler, play-by-play; Matt Millen, analyst; Lisa Byington, reporter)
Radio — Hawkeye Radio Network.
Records — Iowa 8-3 (5-3 Big Ten), Nebraska 5-6 (3-5)
AP poll — Iowa is 19th.
Coaches poll — Iowa is 20th
CFP rankings — Iowa is 17th
Series — Nebraska leads, 29-17-3. Iowa has won the last four and five of the last six. Hawkeyes lead, 5-3, since Nebraska joined the Big Ten.
Spread — Iowa -5 1/2
Over/under — 44 1/2
Moneyline — Iowa -222, Nebraska +175
Game time forecast — Rain, 40 degrees
Game day forecast — Periods of rain, high of 43
• Kirk Ferentz's first game as Iowa's coach was against Nebraska in 1999. The Huskers won, 42-7.
• Iowa's five wins against the Huskers in Big Ten play have been by an average of 20.8 points.
• Iowa is 2-1 in trophy games this season — the Heroes Trophy is on the line in this game. The Hawkeyes are 15-4 in trophy games since the beginning of the 2015 season, with all of the losses coming to Wisconsin.
• Iowa's three losses this season have been to ranked teams — Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin. The teams have a combined 27-6 record, and the losses have been by a combined total of 14 points.
When Iowa has the ball
It's been a storyline all season, but the Hawkeyes have got to get the running game going. Iowa had just 79 yards on 32 carries in last Saturday's 19-10 win over Illinois.
"We've got to block better and we've got to run better," Ferentz said. "(Illinois) did a good job taking away from us. A lot of people do what they can do to do that, and they were successful. We didn't run the ball very effectively at all Saturday, and we're going to have to do at least a somewhat better job on this Friday to have any chance in this football game.
"We've just got to do a little bit better job being detailed. Part of it is aiming points, part of it's just cohesion and fits, all those kinds of things, but the bottom line is we didn't get it done on Saturday."
Iowa has had just one game with a 100-yard rusher this season — Toren Young had 131 yards against Middle Tennessee.
Nebraska's defense has given up an average of 184.7 rushing yards this season, 223.3 yards in Big Ten games. So there may be an opportunity for the Hawkeyes to control the ball on the ground.
Iowa rushed for 266 yards against the Huskers last season — Mekhi Sargent had 173 yards on 26 carries.
Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley is coming off a 308-yard passing day against Illinois. Nebraska is eighth in the Big Ten in passing defense, allowing 210 yards per game.
The Huskers' 3-4 defense can be a problem. The top three on Nebraska's tackle chart are all linebackers — Mohamed Barry (83), Will Honas (69) and Collin Miller (62). The Huskers have 27 sacks this season, eight coming from defensive end Khalil Davis.
When the Huskers have the ball
Nebraska is coming off a season-high in points in last Saturday's 54-7 win over Maryland.
The Huskers have 71 offensive plays this season of 20 or more yards, second in the Big Ten and 11th nationally. They also have 19 plays of 40 or more yards, best in the Big Ten and 10th best nationally.
Nebraska also has 20 scoring drives of 75 yards or more.
Iowa had trouble last week containing Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters — he had 10 rushes for 76 yards. Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez is a bigger challenge — he is second on the team in rushing with 582 yards and seven touchdowns, and he's thrown for 1,906 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Martinez rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown, and threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns, last season against the Hawkeyes.
"This guy is the second leading rusher on their football team, so that's a big part of what they do and what he does," Ferentz said. "Once he got going last year — I mean, they ran it a lot of times, what happened? We couldn't stop him, we couldn't slow him down, we couldn't contain him. So that's a real concern for us right now — how are we going to try to keep him, limit him to what he does or what he can do because we had a real problem last year."
Running back Dedrick Mills has 651 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Wide receiver J.D. Spielman has 46 catches for 864 yards.
Iowa's defense has allowed just 12.2 points, ranking No. 5 in the nation. The Hawkeyes have held eight opponents this season to a season-low in points. Nebraska's season low was 7 against Ohio State and Minnesota.
The final thought
The Hawkeyes have controlled this series in recent seasons, but Ferentz points back to last season's game — a 31-28 win that came on Miguel Recinos' field goal to end the game — as a sign of what can happen.
The Huskers come into this game needing a win to become bowl-eligible.
"I would expect them to play hard no matter what," Ferentz said. "Again, we witnessed that last year, and I can't even tell you what their record was last year when we played them. It doesn't really matter to me because all I know is it took us every play in the game to win the game. It was really tough, hard-fought, and my guess is that that's what it's going to be on Thursday, Friday or whatever day we play this week. It's going to be the same case.
"So that's where our focus is. I expect them to be fully ready. It's their senior day, too, and they'll have 89,000 people there screaming, so I think we know what we're walking into. It won't be easy at all, and it's going to require us to really communicate, and we'll all be in focus and playing our best football."