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at Nebraska 20 … Iowa 7

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 25, 2011


Week 13 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Iowa at Nebraska

2011 Prediction & Game Story

Week 13 - Iowa at Nebraska

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Nov. 25 at Nebraska 20 … Iowa 7
CFN Analysis: Rex Burkhead might have had a hard time earning First Team All-Big Ten honors in a league with Montee Ball, Silas Redd, Marcus Coker, and Fitzgerald Toussaint, but he did the job this week to show that there might not be a more important player in the conference to his team. Hobbling, with a bad ankle/foot, he was a man with 38 carries for 160 yards and a score. … The defense was phenomenal. It all but erased Marvin McNutt, allowing four catches for 29 yards, and it kept Marcus Coker to 87 yards and a score on 18 carries. Yeah, the Hawkeyes scored late, but it didn’t matter. … The Capital One Bowl? The Huskers are attractive, and if Michigan beats Ohio State and if Wisconsin wins the Rose Bowl, they’ll be first up in the pecking order, even past Michigan State. At worst, they’ll be Outback bound.

The Hawkeyes couldn’t get the offense going with any semblance of consistency against a jacked up Husker defense on a mission. The O couldn’t get Marvin McNutt involved in the attack early on, and Marcus Coker couldn’t find a groove until it was way too late. Once again, the offense struggled to manufacture points against a decent D. … The team never got a hold of the game. The offense couldn’t keep the chains moving converting just 2-of-12 third down chances, and it only held on to the ball for just over 22 minutes. … The TicketCity Bowl is most likely, but the Meineke Car Care Bowl is still on the table.

(AP) LINCOLN, Neb. -- Rex Burkhead, who started the week with his right foot in a walking boot, ran for 160 yards and a touchdown on a school-record 38 carries and Nebraska (No. 21 BCS, No. 22 AP) defeated Iowa 20-7 on Friday.

Burkhead pounded away at Iowa's defense 4 or 5 yards at a time and looked like his old self after being held to a season-low 36 yards in last week's loss at Michigan.

He had eight carries for 39 yards on a 10-play drive that ended with his 2-yard run and a 20-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Burkhead ran on nine of 15 plays of an 80-yard drive that produced the Huskers' first touchdown. His 2-yard run around right end converted a fourth-and-1 inside the Iowa 30, and six plays later Kyler Reed scored his first touchdown of the season on a 6-yard pass from Taylor Martinez.

Nebraska's coaching staff got Burkhead a record 38th carry on the second-to-last play of the game when the Huskers (9-3, 5-3) were in victory formation. Burkhead took a knee for a 3-yard loss.

Burkhead came out of the 45-17 loss at Michigan banged up, and he was limited in practice all week.

He started and finished strong, breaking a 14-yard run on the Huskers' first play from scrimmage and then going for 8 and 6 yards. Ameer Abdullah spelled him, but never for more than two consecutive plays.

Nebraska is hoping to land a berth in the Capital One Bowl, if two Big Ten teams are invited to BCS games, or the Outback Bowl. Iowa (7-5, 4-4) could slip to the Meineke Car Care Bowl or TicketCity Bowl.

The Hawkeyes avoided getting shut out for the first time in 11 years when Marcus Coker scored on a 2-yard run with 3:26 left.

With Nebraska having joined the Big Ten this year, Friday's game was long touted as the start of a natural rivalry. Iowa is Nebraska's closest Big Ten opponent, and the farm states split by the Missouri River share a passion for football.

The universities further billed it as the inaugural "Heroes Game" and honored "citizen heroes" from each state at halftime.

What happened on the field bore little resemblance to those big Thanksgiving week games Nebraska used to play against Oklahoma and Colorado.

The Huskers and Hawkeyes were meeting for the first time since 2000, and Nebraska leads the series 27-12-3.

Martinez was 12 of 22 for 163 yards, and Kenny Bell caught five balls for a season-high 93 yards.

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard shut down Marvin McNutt, holding Iowa's record-setting receiver to two catches for 1 yard through three quarters. McNutt finished with four catches for 29 yards.

Coker, averaging 118 yards a game, ran 18 times for 87 yards.

Iowa (7-4) at Nebraska (8-3) Nov. 25, 12:00, ABC

Here’s The Deal … Welcome to one of the best new rivalries in college football.

The two neighbor-state schools are only about 300 miles apart and an easy drive for the always-mobile fan bases, and because of where the game looks like it’ll be positioned on the schedule, it’ll be a big deal.

The Legends division already has Michigan vs. Michigan State, and Michigan vs. Nebraska will be an annual thing, but this matchup should take on a unique life of its own. The two fan bases are similar in temperament, the geographic location is right, and at the moment, the two programs are similar in talent and stature.

Michigan State has already won the Legends, and Michigan appears to be set for an at-large BCS game if it can beat Ohio State, so this game might be for a key New Year’s Day bowl. For one, it’ll be to close out the regular season with some momentum that hasn’t been there for a while.

Iowa hasn’t been able to establish any sort of a groove. The early loss to Iowa State doesn’t look to bad now, and the Penn State loss was tough, but the Minnesota gaffe was a killer and the clunker at home to Michigan State offset good wins over Michigan and Northwestern. The Hawkeyes haven’t been able to do anything on the road outside of last week’s win over Purdue, and beating Nebraska would be a really big deal. 8-4 looks a lot better than 7-5.

And 9-3, with a chance for a ten-win season, looks a lot better than 8-4. The Huskers have lost two of their last three games, and while the record is nice, two of the losses to Wisconsin and Michigan were by a combined score of 93 to 34. It’s been a hit-or-miss team with great wins over Ohio State, Michigan State, and Penn State to go along with the blowout defeats, and a win over Iowa would prove that the team really is great despite all the inconsistencies and all the concerns at times on both sides of the ball.

Why Iowa Might Win: Nebraska’s defensive line just doesn’t get into the backfield and it just doesn’t make enough big plays. The loss of Jared Crick midway through the regular season has been part of the problem, but overall, the line just doesn’t hit the quarterback and it just isn’t disruptive. Iowa’s offensive line has been wildly inconsistent and it hasn’t been strong in pass protection, but that might not be a problem this week.

The Hawkeye defense has hardly been anything special, but it’s done a good job against mobile quarterbacks. The linebackers and ends were able to get up the field enough on the outside to make Michigan’s Denard Robinson a pocket passer, keeping him to 55 rushing yards while holding Fitzgerald Toussaint to 58 rushing yards. Nebraska has a far worse passing attack than Michigan and has nothing to fall back on, so if the Iowa formula used against the Wolverines can be applied to the Huskers, it could be a low scoring game.

Why Nebraska Might Win: The Hawkeyes have the weapons, but even when they do show up and shine it doesn’t always mean production. Marcus Coker ran for 252 yards against Minnesota and the team only came up with 21 points in the loss. Marvin McNutt caught eight passes for 130 yards and a score against Michigan State and the Hawkeyes were blown out. James Vandenberg has been as mistake-free and as decent a quarterback as any passer in the Big Ten outside of Russell Wilson and Dan Persa, but his good games haven’t always meant wins. Basically, the offense can work, it can move up and down the field, and it still might not mean the points will come against a Nebraska defense that does a nice job of not breaking too often after bending.

Nebraska has had a huge problem this year when it comes to time of possession even though the offense is geared towards a ground game that’s supposed to be able to keep the clock and the chains moving. Iowa is almost as bad thanks to an offense that’s mediocre on third downs and a defense that can’t come up with a big stop. Getting off the field has been an issue for the Husker defense, but it’s really been a problem for the Hawkeyes, ranking 101st in the nation in third down D.

What To Watch Out For: Vandenberg really has been good. He hasn’t been great, he hasn’t been Wilson, Persa, or Kirk Cousins throwing it, and Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez have been more effective at times in their own way, but he’s been good. He has only thrown one pick in the last five games and his only two interception game of the season came against Penn State. That was the only game he hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass. In most years, a 23-touchdown, five-pick quarterback with eight 200-yard games would be in the mix for all-star honors, but those might have to wait until next year.

This is Lavonte David’s chance to make a final statement for the Butkus. Boston College’s Luke Kuechly might have it locked up, but David has been just as much of an anchor for a Nebraska defense that hasn’t done enough up front. He was more of a tackling machine last year, but he’s been just as effective this year and he’s stepping up his play over the last few weeks with 17 tackles against Michigan and 11 against Northwestern. Against Iowa, he needs to become personally acquainted with Marcus Coker early.

What Will Happen: Nebraska will be brutally effective. The running game won’t be spectacular, and there won’t be much of a passing game, but Martinez and Rex Burkhead will combine for an effective 175 rushing yards, and the defense will keep the score manageable. The Huskers haven’t lost a home finale since 2004, and they’re going to close out their inaugural Big Ten season with a great performance.

CFN Prediction: Nebraska 27 … Iowa 21
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