Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Huskers Embracing Role of Potential Spoiler in Black Friday Game Against Iowa

November 22, 2022

The Huskers are rallying together for one more mission — one more line item on the season’s checklist before crumpling it into the trash. But beating rival Iowa for the first time in 8 years is more difficult than a swipe of the pen.

Freshman Ernest Hausmann, from Columbus, knows what rivalry games mean but he has no frame of reference for beating Iowa. Fifth-year senior Colton Feist, from Yutan, couldn’t even remember where he was or if he watched Kenny Bell catch the 9-yard pass from Tommy Armstrong Jr. in overtime in 2014. Since that game, Iowa’s won seven straight, outscoring Nebraska 236-137. So returning players like Feist only associate Iowa with the familiar heartache of season-ending losses. Interim head coach Mickey Joseph said on Tuesday the team is well aware of the winning drought. And while this team is together one last time, they’ll give it their best shot.

“I expect and I know our boys will come out and give full effort, play with a lot of pride,” Joseph said. “Last game playing with some of their brothers. So, I expect them to come out and play tough and be resilient through the whole game.”

For senior team captain Caleb Tannor, it’s his last game regardless. He isn’t faced with the impossible, unavoidable questions of who and what if. While his teammates are exhausted by the barrage of questions, Tannor’s exhausted his eligibility. Friday’s game will be the last of a program-record 56 games played. He’s not sure how he’s avoided injuries. He doesn’t even like going to the training room. Maybe he’s a genetic freak, he pondered. Either way, he wants to go out on a high.

“This is a good chance for us to leave this place on a good note,” Tannor said. “It will be a great opportunity to do that and get these young cats coming up something to remember what it is supposed to be like. Hopefully we can go out there and execute at a high level and keep that ball rolling.”

Tannor said the young nucleus at Nebraska, including Hausmann and freshman cornerback Malcolm Hartzog, is like a tumor. You know, the good kind. The kind that can just grow and explode. And when it does explode, Memorial Stadium will be rocking once again.

Tannor grew into his leadership role as Hausmann came into the program. The freshman saw a consistent worker and someone to model himself after. When Hausmann effectively got benched during the season, he stayed the course and absorbed the lessons. Now, he’s on the verge of completing one of the best four-game stretches any freshman linebacker’s accrued at Nebraska.

“Seeing a veteran like that and how physical he plays, I look at the d-line and how physical they play, it’s tremendous,” the freshman linebacker said. “I look all around our defense and how hard they work, how hard they prepare, it gives me a sense of confidence out there. You look down and see all these veterans out there that have been through all these things and they’re right there with me on the journey.”

Typically, Nebraska focuses inward during the week. But a Nebraska win doesn’t change the outcome of the season, really. It would, however, potentially keep rival Iowa from winning the Big Ten West and playing for a conference championship.

“So we’re here to ruin their chances,” Tannor smiled.

Iowa’s in a position where Nebraska wants to be. This program aspires to play in conference championship games again. For Feist, a guy who’s been here for years and knows the rivalry, this is still an opportunity. It’s a huge game. They’ll play on Black Friday afternoon on Big Ten Network, shown to millions of homes across the country.

“What we put on tape is what’s going to define us,” Feist said. “This game, it means a lot to us. If we can throw their season off, that’s huge to us, especially with this rivalry. We’re playing for a trophy.”

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