If Bo Pelini is indeed fired from the Nebraska Cornhuskers, he sure is going out on a high note. And for the Iowa Hawkeyes, it's a real bad fall from what preseason expectations became.
Kenny Bell catches a 9 yard pass from Tommy Armstrong in Overtime, and your Big Red comes back from a 24-14 deficit to defeat the Hawkeyes 37-34 in Overtime at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.
The Huskers (9-3/5-3 B1G) used a 4 Touchdown day from Armstrong, a 106 yard rushing performance from Ameer Abdullah, and 4 Iowa (7-5/4-4 B1G) turnovers to come back, being helped by 134 yards of Punt Returns by Demornay Pierson-El, with a big one coming on a 80 yard Punt Return TD to help Nebraska take the lead.
The 17 point deficit that Nebraska ended up coming back from is the largest in school history on the road, and second biggest in school history period.
Quiet First Quarter for both teams, as it was scoreless. Jake Rudock led the Hawkeyes down the field, but a Nate Gerry interception on the goal line ended the opening drive. Nebraska didn't do much with the drive, but Matt Vandenberg fumbled a Nebraska punt, giving the Huskers great field position deep in Iowa territory. However, Nebraska did nothing with it, as Drew Brown missed a 49 yard field goal to the right.
Iowa began the 2Q by driving deep in Nebraska territory again. However, Rudock fumbled in the RedZone and Nebraska got the ball back. However, the drive ended and Iowa gained their first points of the game with Armstrong being hit as he threw and the ball fluttered to John Lowdermilk, who took home a pick 6 to make it 7-0 Iowa.
After a Nebraska punt, Iowa got the ball back and made a little drive out of it, but faltered in the RZ again, and took a 22 yard Marshal Koehn FG to make it 10-0. The Huskers got the ball and Armstrong threw a interception to Desmond King. But 2 plays later, Josh Kalu stripped Damond Powell after a catch and the return gave the Huskers the ball at the Iowa 36. After a improvised pass to Cethan Carter, Armstrong used play-action to find a wide open Abdullah in the back of the end zone for a Nebraska Touchdown and 10-7. Iowa knelt down to take it to halftime
Nebraska went 3 and out to open the second half and punted to Iowa. The Hawkeyes promptly took the ball down the field and got a TD with a Rudock to Tevaun Smith TD pass where Nebraska ran a corner blitz and Gerry couldn't bring down Smith. That made the score 17-7. The Huskers got the ball back, but after one first down, had to punt. Sam Foltz bobbled the snap, and punted into the backside of his protector's body. The ball went backwards, where Drew Ott picked it up and scampered into the end zone for another Hawkeye TD to make it 24-7 Iowa.
Nebraska used a 53 yard rush by Abdullah on the next drive to get down to the Iowa 8, but the drive stalled there. Brown's FG from 27 yards was out was blocked by Carl Davis of Iowa, but since the ball didn't go past the Line of Scrimmage, Nebraska could have advanced it. And Nebraska's Andy Janovich held the ball. However, since he gave up on the play, the officials blew the whistle and the play was dead. Iowa got one first down out of the next drive, but punted away to Nebraska. Helped with a 27 yard rush by Ameer, Armstrong launched a 34 yard TD pass to Tariqq Allen, his second of the day. That helped the score become 24-14 Iowa. Both teams had one more possession in the quarter but traded punts.
Iowa had the ball to begin the 4th, but had to punt and Pierson-El got the first of his 2 big punt returns by taking the ball 41 yards to the Iowa 32. From there, Armstrong hit his 3rd TD toss of the day by throwing a 500 ball to Kenny Bell in the back right of the end zone, and KB high-pointing the ball to make it 24-21 Iowa.
After one first down on their next drive, Iowa decided to kick back to Demornay. And it cost them big time.
That TD return gave the Huskers their first lead of the day at 28-24. Iowa got 2 first downs, but couldn't move the ball much more after that. However, Nebraska went 3 and out and kicked the ball back to Iowa's 47 yard line.
The Hawkeyes put out their best drive of the second half, with a fourth down conversion deep in Nebraska territory by Mark Weisman. The drive ended with a Rudock to Jordan Canzeri swing pass for a TD to make it 31-28 Iowa with 2 minutes to go.
Nebraska, with their back against the wall, was helped with a Pass Interference by Greg Mabin of Iowa. A 14 yard Carter reception and a 35 yard catch by Brandon Reilly helped Nebraska get in the RedZone, but Nebraska couldn't get a first down after 3 rushes. Drew Brown was true from 20 yards on his kick to tie it at 31. A last gasp play by Iowa's offense running hook and ladders didn't develop, and we went to overtime.
Nebraska won the toss for OT and chose to play Defense first. The Hawkeyes overcame a false start penalty to get the ball inside the Nebraska 10, but couldn't get the TD. They settled for a Koehn 25 yard FG. Nebraska got the ball and after 2 rushes, Armstrong hit Kenny Bell twice in a row. The first time for a First Down, the last time for the game-winning TD, Armstrong's fourth of the day.
Gerry led the Huskers with 15 tackles, Zaire Anderson chipping in with 14 himself. Ameer ended up with 106 rushing yards on 13 carries. Leading receiver for Nebraska was Bell, with 3 snags for 53 yards and the 2 TD's.
For Iowa, Mark Weisman led the rushing charges with 82 yards on 24 carries. Kevonte Martin-Manley led the pass catching crew with 6 for 63 yards, while Tevaun Smith had 4 for 71 and the one TD. Jordan Lomax and Quinton Alston led the D crew with 8 tackles each.
The Huskers finish with a 9 win season for the 7th time in Bo Pelini's tenure as Head Coach. The Hawkeyes finish 7-5.
Both teams will learn their postseason bowl destination next weekend.