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Report Card: Iowa Hawkeyes 38, Huskers 17

Eric Francis

That didn't go well. At all.

Did Bo Pelini just snap under the pressure? Sticking with the fake punt after Kirk Ferentz called timeout and put his base defense back on the field? And then unloading on the referees in the post-game press conference? Yes, it was a chicken-bleep call...but you can't say that in a press conference.

And by doing all of that, Bo Pelini may have done exactly what he was trying not to do. Until Shawn Eichorst makes his final announcement, it's all speculation. Before the game, most people didn't believe that Pelini was really going to be fired. Now, it's a very real possibility.

And with that cloud, we move onto the report card for the Huskers performance against Iowa.

QB: Oh, what a storybook finish it could have been. Senior walk-on Ron Kellogg III leads Nebraska to a big victory in his first career start. Instead, it started out as a Nightmare on Vine Street as Kellogg threw two ugly interceptions on Nebraska's first two drives. He played better after that, but down the stretch, he missed some key throws. I did admire some of his mobility, and his ability to bounce back from some massive hits. But those turnovers...yeesh. Grade: D-

RB: Ameer Abdullah gave everything he could out there today, and sometimes without much support. His fumble probably sealed the Iowa victory, though it's hard to criticize him when he got popped in the head like he did. Should it have been overturned on a targeting penalty? Well, even some Iowa fans worried about it. Imani Cross did impress with a really nice fingertip catch. But more than once, Abdullah elected to go out for a receiver instead of picking up a blitz. And that went very, very badly for Kellogg. Grade: C

WR: How different would this game have been if Taariq Allen hadn't stepped out of bounds on the opening drive. Erased a 32 yard gain, and even worse, set up Iowa's interception on the next play. Iowa's defense was reeling at that time, and the Huskers had major momentum. Quincy Enunwa deserves credit for making the play on fourth down and scoring. Kenny Bell also had a good day, as did the tight ends receiving. Blocking? Not quite so much. Grade: B

OL: Nice adjustments after halftime to create some running lanes, but still, running room was tough to find much of the game. And way too often, the line failed to protect their quarterback. Grade: C-

DL: After some early issues, I saw a lot to like on the defensive line...especially Vincent Valentine, who played his best game as a Husker. Junior college transfer Terrell Clinkscales thought so as well:

Randy Gregory would love to have that play back where he had to cover Kevonte Martin-Manley back, though. Grade: B

Linebackers: Interesting how Nebraska unleased a 4 linebacker set with Josh Banderas in the game. Didn't work so well earlier though. Loved the huge game from Michael Rose; he's another reason why I'm optimistic about the future of the Nebraska defense. That being said, putting David Santos on a wide receiver is just asking for trouble. Why try to ask defensive ends and linebackers to cover Iowa's best receiver? Was Bo Pelini just looking for style points to prove that it could be done? Grade: B

Secondary: Mostly a pretty quiet day...especially Stanley Jean-Baptiste who didn't even hit the official stats. Andrew Green did, though, to his usual mixed results. Grade: C

Special Teams: Normally, special teams gets absorbed elsewhere, but for this game, it's front and center. Nebraska's punt return game is a complete debacle. Frankly, it makes more sense to give up a couple of fake punts than let Nebraska get pinned repeatedly under the shadow of the goal posts. Speaking of fake punts, that was simply a horrific play call. Especially after Kirk Ferentz smelled it coming and called timeout to reinsert his base defense. No other way to grade this: Grade: F

Overall: F As the clock counted down in the fourth quarter, I looked back at the stat sheet. I saw Iowa held to 14 first downs and 281 total yards...and still Iowa scored 38 points.