We are two days away from kicking off the latest installment of the rivalry series between Nebraska and Iowa. The Huskers are looking to flush a bad performance against Illinois. The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, seem to be finding their groove. They sit at 3-2 after a 41-21 win over Penn State. That was Ferentz’ 100th career Big Ten win. Iowa’s two losses are by a combined five points.
The last two matchups between Nebraska and Iowa have come down to the final play. Iowa has won both by kicking last second field goals. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz expects more of the same this time around.
“I think you look at this, it’s a trophy game,” Ferentz said. “Really all you have to do is look at the last two games since Coach [Scott] Frost has been there. We played two really competitive games against each other, literally went down to the last play in both games. That’s what you expect from a rivalry game. I would expect more of that this week.
“That’s what we’re trying to prepare for right now. I’m sure they’re going to be a determined football team. We’re not sure which quarterback we’ll see. I do know this: they’re both extremely dangerous. That’s going to be a tough, tough preparation for our defensive football team.”
This is the second straight week that Iowa will have to prepare for two possibilities at quarterback. It wasn’t until about 20 minutes before kickoff that it became clear Penn State redshirt sophomore quarterback Will Levis would start over redshirt junior quarterback Sean Clifford. Having faced that, Iowa knows to be ready for both redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey and junior Adrian Martinez.
Ferentz also knows that both Husker quarterbacks can be dangerous.
“Both these guys are capable of making plays with their feet, with their arm and their head,” Ferentz said. “It’s one of those deals where there’s a lot of pressure on your defense at every position because both these quarterbacks can run, they can get outside and throw it, they can get outside and run it. That makes it a big challenge for us.”
In the last four games against Nebraska, Iowa has averaged 6.2 yards per carry against the Huskers. That is a couple yards better than the Hawkeyes’ typical output. Improving this area of the game is where the Huskers could spring the upset.
Despite the numbers, Ferentz would not say his team has dominated the line of scrimmage against the Huskers though.
“I don’t know if ‘dominance’ is the word,” Ferentz said. “We’ve done some good things up front. They’ve had some good things happen to them, too. The bottom line is, especially these last two years, it’s literally come down to that last play. There’s nothing easy. This won’t be easy. We know that. They’re going to come in here ready to go.”
The rivals will square off on Friday at noon CT on FOX.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.