It all comes down to this.
This is the end. Iowa’s cinderella-story regular season has finally hit its finale, its denouement. The curtain is closing, but Iowa’s ready for the curtain call. If Iowa wins just two more games, they’re in. Their road to the playoffs starts now. While a loss tomorrow wouldn’t end Iowa’s season or prevent them from making the Big Ten Championship, it would ruin their playoff chances, barring a total college football meltdown in the next two weeks.
Iowa’s nothing if not prepared for this game, and it’s their game to lose. Nebraska is 5-6, and frankly a record like that is embarrassing. Granted, that record doesn’t reflect the way that they play. Nebraska has lost four games that were all decided in the final minute, but that isn’t just luck. Nebraska loses games. It’s what they do. They can’t put a game away and end it when it matters the most.
Nebraska has had two weeks to prepare for Iowa’s dual-threat offense, so the Hawks need to make sure that they make enough changes in the offense, so that Nebraska has to make game-time changes. Nebraska has an absolutely horrible pass defense, so Iowa should be able to get lots of yards through the air tomorrow.
Iowa is a really well-rounded team in all aspects of play. They aren’t bad at anything, and they aren’t really amazing at anything either. If they play against a good rush defense, they can pass the ball to win the game. If they play against a good pass defense, they can run the ball to win the game. Same goes for their defense. They can stop the run and pass games.
This game is a rivalry, but it isn’t really a rivalry, but this game is becoming a rivalry. It was a forced trophy by the B1G when Nebraska joined the conference, but there’s lots of tension between the neighboring states. If Iowa gets to celebrate an undefeated season on Nebraska’s home turf, it’s only going to be a catalyst accelerating what is slowly becoming one of Iowa’s biggest rivalries.
Honestly I don’t really have predictions for the game. I really can’t tell what is going to happen today. Will Nebraska be rusty going two weeks without playing? Will they come out well rested and ready to hit? Will Nebraska have good game management? Will CJ be able to pass the ball well with the possible weather? Questions like these make this game so difficult to read.
The optimist in me sees Iowa winning 35 – 20, but the pessimist, undecided me sees Iowa losing 27-28 in overtime after Koehn misses the final extra point. Why do I think that, you ask? Well earlier in the week I was playing NCAA 2014, and Iowa lost in this exact scenario. Foreshadowing? Fate? Only time will tell. Let’s bring it home, boys.