Week 13 - Nebraska at Iowa

Posted Nov 22, 2012

Week 13 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – Nebraska at Iowa

Nebraska (9-2) at Iowa (4-7) Nov. 24, 12:00, ABC

Here's The Deal: It's simple. If Nebraska beats a dead Iowa team, it will play Wisconsin for the Big Ten championship. If it loses, then Michigan will go to beat knowing it can play for the title by beating Ohio State on Saturday morning.

The Huskers have been giving their fans a thrill ride with close win over close win, but they took care of business last week in the home finale with an easy, dominant win over Minnesota for a 6-1 conference mark and a five-game winning streak going into the trip to Iowa. Can the defense shut down the woeful Hawkeye offense? Can the O avoid the big mistakes? Nebraska hasn't had the inexplicable brain cramp game yet this season, and if there was ever the potential for one, this would be the week.

Iowa has been miserable. The Hawkeyes shocked Michigan State in a double overtime thriller, and then went right into the tank with inexcusable losses to Indiana and Purdue as part of a five game losing streak. There's no bowl game coming, so this will have to qualify as the big final moment and a chance to turn Iowa-Nebraska into an interesting rivalry.

The two schools are only five hours apart with fans for both sides lines up across the nearly-straight shot I-80 drive. However, the two have only met 33 times with Nebraska winning last year 20-7 in only the third meeting since 1982. The first battle came in 1899, a 30-0 Iowa win.

Why Nebraska Might Win: The Iowa defensive front has picked a really, really bad time to stop getting into the backfield. The Hawkeyes started out the season with a nice pass rush and plenty of plays behind the line, but after registering nine sacks in the first six games, they have only come up with two in the last five while doing next to nothing against the run. Michigan toyed with the Iowa front seven last week, while the secondary has been torched time and again over the last several games allowing eight touchdown passes in the last three weeks. Meanwhile, the offense has been horrendous with little rushing production and now big plays in the passing game whatsoever. It shouldn't take much of a push for Nebraska to get up and stay ahead.

Why Iowa Might Win: The Hawkeyes aren't screwing up. The offense might not be any good, but at least they're not giving the ball away on a regular basis. On the year, Iowa has turned the ball over a total of nine times with three coming against Penn State, two against Indiana and two against Iowa State. That's it. Meanwhile, Nebraska is giving the ball away like it was a disease, losing a whopping 18 fumbles with nine picks. The only was Iowa wins is if it's +3 – at least – in turnover margin and takes advantage of every opportunity. The chances will be there, and the O has to pounce.

What To Watch Out For: It has been a rough, rough year for Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg. The senior came into the season fresh off a 25-touchdown, seven-pick 2011, and there was some thought that he'd make everyone around him better while turning into a fringe NFL prospect. Instead, he has thrown just seven touchdown passes on the year with two coming last week – the second one didn't matter. He has kept the interceptions to a minimum, but he's not able to make anything happen deep and he's not getting any help from his receivers. In his final game, though, beating Nebraska would be a strong last note.

What Will Happen: Can Nebraska commit so many turnovers, that the Iowa offense can get the breaks it needs? Can Iowa play at just enough of a high level at home to pull off the shocker? Yes and yes, and it still won't matter. The Nebraska offense is playing too well with Taylor Martinez just strong enough to overcome a few big errors to lead the way to a surprisingly tough win. The Huskers will pull it out, but they'll be in for a fight.

CFN Prediction: Nebraska 27 … Iowa 23
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Nebraska -14.5 O/U: 53
Must Watch Rating (5 – Beware of Mr. Baker, 1 – Life of Pi): 3