Nebraska’s win/loss record is 9-2. 10-2 would sound a whole crapload better than 9-3 wouldn’t it?
9-3 is an improvement, but why settle for that when you can have 10-2?
Unfortunately, getting to 10-2 is going to be a whole lotta difficult. Iowa stands in the way, and in case you haven’t noticed, they seem to be peaking at just the right time of year.
Who’s going to play quarterback? That is the biggest question this week for Nebraska. Tommy Armstrong – hamstrings are tricksy. Ryker Fyfe – broken wrist. Zach Darlington – we don’t know, but neither does Iowa. Demornay Pearson- El – played quarterback in high school. Freshman Lamar Jackson - also played quarterback in high school. (Louisville is having some success having Lamar Jackson play quarterback, FWIW.) Some guy from the stands - hey, why not?
Nebraska’s offensive line isn’t strong enough to push Iowa’s front four around. The Huskers will need someone to complete a few passes here and there.
I know this whole “hamstring injury” could be a lark, and Tommy could be fine. It has been announced that Tommy is “likely to start”. Did I mention hamstrings are tricksy, just like hobbitses? Even if Tommy starts, who knows for long he will play.
Nebraska special teams can’t get out of their own way. It’s become such a constant factor this season that our own website has shortened “Fire Bruce Read” into an acronym - FBR. Whenever there’s a Nebraska special teams mistake, twitter responds by bringing up Read’s $450K salary. (Nebraska media members then make fun of all the husker fans who bring up #450K as if they resent they’re not the ones controlling that narrative.) It’d be hilarious if special teams weren’t so inept. Maybe “inept” is a little strong, but “hapless” is just as bad as “inept”, and “below average” doesn’t seem to quite do it.
Special teams have been bad enough on their own, but add to that that Drew Brown is in concussion protocol (although he practiced Tuesday) and you start to realize it will be extremely difficult for Nebraska to score any points in this game.
Iowa’s defense overall isn’t that impressive when you look at their base statistics. They are 50th in rush defense, 39th in passing, and 31st in total defense, nationally. It’s when you get to their scoring defense that things get a little nastier. Iowa is 15th in this category nationally, meaning that they are the poster child of “bend but don’t break” defense. The Hawkeyes are 12th in opponent third down conversions in the red zone.
All that means is teams have a difficult time scoring against Iowa. Nebraska will be offensively challenged as it is. Have I mentioned points will be hard to come by?
That Weird Iowa Smell
Just for a moment I want you to take yourself out of Nebraska, or really, entirely out of the Midwest. Imagine you live on the coastline in Southern California and you’re accustomed to going to the beach on a regular basis. Imagine you live in Florida and you are accustomed to living with the dumbest people in America, but again, a beach nearby. Imagine you live in Colorado with the beautiful, snow-topped Rocky Mountains.
If you lived any of those places and took a look back at Nebraska and Iowa you wouldn’t see much difference at all. Both are Midwestern states. Both have the same Flatland, good for growing crops, good for growing the food that feeds the world.
But when you live in Nebraska and you travel to Iowa, you spend some time trying to figure out what the hell that smell is. For the two states having relatively the same makeup geologically, it doesn’t make sense that one state, Iowa obviously, is much more stinky than the other.
Sportswriters and fans like to bring up Iowa’s pink locker room. That’s not what gives them a psychological edge. It’s that weird smell. It confuses people. It’s not just the hogs. It’s something else and after all these years I still don’t know what it is.
Think I’m kidding? I am not.
I have mentioned that Iowa likes to run the ball. I have mentioned that it will be difficult for Nebraska to score points. If you break that “Huskers score points” issue into tinier increments, it will be because Nebraska has difficult getting first downs.
Less first downs = more Hawkeye ball possession = Nebraska defense wearing down = Iowa running ball more = Iowa making first downs = Iowa scoring field goals = Iowa win.
That’s as simple as I can make it.
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