Nebraska vs. Iowa: Complete Game Preview
Depth Chart for Nebraska
(As of 11/17/12) Original located here
WR X—Kenny Bell, Tyler Evans
LT—Brent Qvale, Jeremiah Sirles, Brandon Thompson
LG—Seung Hoon Choi, Cole Pensick, Jake Cotton
C—Justin Jackson, Cole Pensick OR Mark Pelini
RG—Spencer Long, Brodrick Nickens, Ryne Reeves
RT—Jeremiah Sirles, Andrew Rodriguez
TE—Ben Cotton OR Kyler Reed, Jake Long OR Conor McDermott
WR Z—Quincy Enunwa, Steven Osborne
WR A—Jamal Turner, Tim Marlowe
QB—Taylor Martinez, Ron Kellogg III
IB—Rex Burkhead OR Ameer Abdullah, Braylon Heard, Imani Cross
FB—C.J. Zimmerer OR Andy Janovich OR Mike Marrow
DE—Eric Martin OR Jason Ankrah
DT—Thad Randle OR Chase Rome OR Cameron Meredith
DT—Baker Steinkuhler, Kevin Williams
DE—Cameron Meredith, Joseph Carter
BUCK—Sean Fisher, Alonzo Whaley OR Max Pirman
MIKE—Will Compton, Sean Fisher, Trevor Roach
WILL—Alonzo Whaley OR David Santos
CB—Andrew Green OR Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Charles Jackson
S—P.J. Smith, Harvey Jackson, Corey Cooper
S—Daimion Stafford, Courtney Osborne, Justin Blatchford
CB—Josh Mitchell, Mohammed Seisay, Daniel Davie
PK—Brett Maher, Mauro Bondi
P—Brett Maher, Mauro Bondi
LS—P.J. Mangieri, Joseph Rotherham
KOR—Kenny Bell, Jamal Turner, Ameer Abdullah, Braylon Heard
PR—Ameer Abdullah, Tim Marlowe, Kenny Bell, Jamal Turner
Depth Chart for Iowa
(As of 11/10/12) Original located here
SE—Keenan Davis, Tevaun Smith
LT—Matt Tobin, Nolan MacMillan
LG—Nolan MacMillan, Jordan Walsh
C—James Ferentz, Conor Boffeli
RG—Austin Blythe, Drew Clark
RT—Brett Van Sloten, Nolan MacMillan
TE—C.J. Fiedorowicz, Ray Hamilton
QB—James Vandenberg, Jake Rudock
WR—Kevonte Martin-Manley, Steven Staggs
RB—Damon Bullock, Greg Garmon
FB—Jonathan Gimm, Jacob Reisen
PK—Mike Meyer, Marhall Koehn
LE—Joe Gaglione, Drew Ott
LT—Steve Bigach, Carl Davis
RT—Louis Trinca-Pasat, Darian Cooper
RE—Dominic Alvis, Melvin Spears
OLB—Christian Kirksey, Travis Perry
MLB—James Morris, Quinton Alston
WLB—Anthony Hitchens, Cole Fisher
LC—Greg Castillo, B.J. Lowery
SS—Nico Law, Tom Donatell
FS—Tanner Miller, John Loudermilk
RC—Micah Hyde, Sean Draper
PT—Connor Kornbrath, John Wienke
Punt Returns—Micah Hyde
Deep Snaps—Casey Kreiter, Steve Bigach
Kickoff Returns—Jordan Cotton, Tevaun Smith
What Happened to the Cornhuskers Last Week
Nebraska settled the nerves of its fans with a comfortable 38-14 win over Minnesota in Lincoln last Saturday. Nebraska led 24-0 at halftime, after failing to score a short-yardage touchdown just before the second quarter expired.
The bench was emptied on senior day, and Minnesota was able to have more success late in the game. But, the Gophers still didn’t get over 100 yards of total offense until the fourth quarter.
What Happened to the Hawkeyes Last Week
Iowa lost to Michigan, 42-17, in Ann Arbor, dropping the Hawkeyes to 4-7 on the season and almost certainly ending their hopes for a bowl game. (If there aren’t enough 6-6 teams to fill out the slate of bowls, 5-7 teams can be considered)
Iowa stayed close to Michigan early, ending the first quarter tied 7-7. A 21-point Michigan second quarter, however, removed any doubt as to the outcome. The Hawkeyes are on a five-game losing streak, with their last win being a double-overtime victory over Michigan State on Oct. 13. Since 2009, Iowa is 19-18 going into the game against Nebraska.
What It Means to Both Teams
Nebraska and Michigan are currently tied atop the Legends Division, with Nebraska holding a tiebreaker, thanks to its head-to-head win over the Wolverines. Michigan plays Ohio State on Saturday, the day after the Heroes Game.
That means Nebraska must win against Iowa to guarantee a place in the B1G Championship against Wisconsin. A loss to the Hawkeyes would mean a nervous 24 hours as the Children of the Corn would become very big Buckeye fans for one day.
A win for Iowa would leave them at least mathematically eligible for a bowl game if there weren’t enough 6-6 teams to fill the bowl slate. But, realistically, the Heroes Game is almost certainly the last game of the season for the Hawkeyes and their senior class.
Additionally, this will be the first day-after-Thanksgiving game in Kinnick, with the eyes of a tryptophan-drunk nation fixed on the contest.
Knowing that, and given the nascent rivalry between the two schools (stronger at this point on the Iowa side), the Hawkeyes will be playing with little to lose and pride to gain before the Kinnick faithful on Friday.
Key Player for Nebraska
Eric Martin. Iowa’s struggles this season have been more on the offensive side of the ball. The Hawkeyes’ best player remains quarterback James Vandenberg, a prototypical pocket passer. If Iowa is going to have any success against Nebraska, it will be because Vandenberg is having success through the air.
That’s where Martin—given the nickname “Caveman”—comes in. Martin leads the team in sacks with 7.5 on the year and is Nebraska’s best weapon in getting penetration into the opposing backfield. The best way to stop Vandenberg is to harass him and put him on his back a few times, and that will be Martin’s job on Friday.
Key Player for Iowa
James Vandenberg. Well, given the previous slide, this one wasn’t hard to guess. Iowa hasn’t scored more than 24 points since putting 31 on Minnesota, which is the Hawkeyes’ highest scoring output of the season. Vandenberg is Iowa’s runaway leader in total offense, accumulating 2,175 yards in 11 games this season.
Nebraska will almost certainly score against Iowa’s defense, so it will be up to Vandenberg to keep the Hawkeye offense moving, keep Nebraska’s offense off the field and help Iowa keep up on the scoreboard.
Nebraska Will Win If ....
…the game gets settled early.
Yes, Nebraska has thrived on last-second comebacks throughout 2012. But this is different. This is a rivalry, one in which many Nebraska fans underestimate the level of antipathy held by their black-and-gold conference mates east of the Missouri River for the Big Red. The Hawkeyes have been a huge disappointment this year and are almost certainly not going to a bowl.
But beating Nebraska, and potentially derailing NU from going to the B1G title game, would go a long way toward keeping Hawkeye loyalists warm during a cold Iowa winter with no January bowl trip.
The Hawkeyes will be sky-high for this game, and the Iowa crowd will be feeding them with energy. If Iowa starts strong, and Nebraska tightens up, things could get hairy for NU in Iowa City.
But Iowa is 4-7 and on a five-game losing streak. If Nebraska jumps out to an early lead, it’s not inconceivable that fan support will erode, and Iowa will not be able to muster a counterpunch. Yes, the comebacks are fun, but in this environment, Nebraska would be well served to settle things early to avoid an upset.
Iowa Will Win If ....
…Nebraska gives Iowa an assist.
Both offensively and defensively, Nebraska is a terrible matchup for Iowa. If form holds, Nebraska should win the game comfortably. But Nebraska is prone to making things difficult for itself, by starting slow or turning the ball over or committing crucial penalties or just in being unable to execute properly.
Iowa is going to need some help from Nebraska to win the second Heroes Game. Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, Nebraska has a history of generosity.
Of all the momentous games Nebraska has played, the win over Minnesota last week may get overlooked. I’m not sure that is wise. Under Pelini, Nebraska has developed a disturbing habit of coming out flat and slow against lesser opponents.
The string of upsets at home (Iowa State in 2009, Texas in 2010, Northwestern in 2011) has been well-documented, and some saw Minnesota as a prime candidate to be that next giant killer.
But a funny thing happened on Saturday. Nebraska came out focused, poised and effective. By the time Nebraska went up 17-0 midway through the second quarter, the outcome of the game was never really in doubt. Nebraska looked like a mature team, focused on the long-term goal of winning a conference title.
Let’s be clear, Iowa is a better team than Minnesota. From a talent standpoint, the Hawkeyes are probably better than a 4-7 record indicates. But, they are 4-7, and they do not match up well in either talent or scheme to Nebraska.
The maturity Nebraska showed against Minnesota should serve NU well as they take care of business in Iowa City, bring that (slightly less shiny) trophy back to Lincoln and prepare for a trip to Indianapolis.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 45, Iowa 17
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