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Report Card: Iowa Hawkeyes 31, Huskers 28

The Huskers didn’t get boatraced, but Iowa still won their fourth in a row.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Iowa
Uggh... helicoptering...
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Turns out there is a difference between 4-8 seasons.

True, the bottom line is that, once again, Nebraska’s football season ended on Thanksgiving weekend. Not only will Nebraska miss a bowl game for the second season in a row, Nebraska will have had a losing record for three out of the last four seasons.

But while 2017 Nebraska featured repeated nearly weekly bludgeonings, 2018 Nebraska had a chance in most every game. Only Michigan boat-raced the Huskers this season, and five of Nebraska’s losses were by 5 points or less. Make a few more plays, and Nebraska could have been a six or seven win team this season.

Scott Frost’s arrival brought a new modern offense to Lincoln, one that has immense potential to be one of the nation’s best. Yes, the scheme is better.

But three years of neglect in strength and development has proven to be much more difficult to repair, and that was never more clear this season than against Iowa. Nebraska has better skill players and better schemes, but Iowa was simply stronger on both sides of the ball. Maybe it wasn’t a “bloodbath” like the last couple of years, but it’s clear that Frost’s plan to resurrect Husker Power is still a work in progress.

That shouldn’t have been a surprise to anybody. Last winter, strength coach Zach Duval dialed down his offseason workouts, and still ended up having players unable to handle it.

You can’t correct three years of neglect in strength and conditioning in just one year.

Nebraska was stronger this year than last year. But as Friday proved, Nebraska still has work to do in that area.

A lot more work.

So here’s the final report card of the season. As always, your feedback is welcome in the comments!

QB: Adrian Martinez had his good and the bad. The bad was that interception; as soon as he threw that pass, everybody around me yelled some variant of “NOOOOOO!!!” - even before the pass was actually intercepted. The freshman mistake aside, Martinez was his usual cool leader, leading his team back from a 15 point fourth quarter deficit. 76 yards rushing, 68% completion percentage, 260 yards passing. That’s a pretty good day. Grade: B+

I-Back: Devine Ozigbo deserved a few more carries on the day, but with the Huskers trailing all day, carries were limited against a stout Iowa defense. Maurice Washington was the star of the day, catching seven passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. Grade: A-

Wide Receivers: Let’s salute Stanley Morgan, who became NU’s first 1,000 yard receiver. Of all of the seniors, he’s going to be the toughest to replace next season. Kade Warner tried to fill JD Spielman’s shoes, and while he did a good job catching the ball, he wasn’t nearly as successful getting yards after each catch. Mike Williams didn’t catch any passes, but had at least one huge block to spring Washington downfield. Grade: B

Offensive Line: Nebraska’s sophomore tackles were frequently spun around by Iowa’s defensive ends, giving up three sacks. Give Iowa credit for being stronger on the line; that’s a tough lesson for this Nebraska team to learn going into the offseason. Grade: D+

Defensive Line: You wouldn’t know Iowa was struggling to run the ball this season by watching this game. Iowa rushed for a season high 266 yards in this game, and it all started by flattening the Nebraska defensive line. Grade: D-

Linebackers: While the linebackers had a few plays of note, my lasting memory of this game will be watching Husker linebackers being drug downfield by Iowa running backs. To the weight room, gentlemen... and stat. Grade: D-

Secondary: If I was looking for a stat line to be proud of on defense, I’d have to go with Noah Fant being held to just one catch for 12 yards. Of course, that may have more to do with being in Kirk Ferentz’s dog house. (Good luck in the NFL Draft...) Of course, the other tight end, TJ Hockenson caught five passes to lead the Hawkeyes. Grade: C

Overall: C- Nebraska found a way to get back into this game, which is all well and good (and an improvement over the last couple of seasons). But it’s still a loss. The Huskers know they have better skill players than the Hawkeyes. Now, they just to match Iowa’s physical superiority.


How would you grade the Huskers for their 31-28 loss to the Hawkeyes?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    (18 votes)
  • 14%
    B - Better than last year.
    (110 votes)
  • 48%
    C - Could have won, if the Huskers could have made another play.
    (364 votes)
  • 24%
    D - Didn’t win. And that’s the bottom line.
    (184 votes)
  • 9%
    F - Failed to win. And season is over.
    (75 votes)
751 votes total Vote Now

Elsewhere in College Football

A&M/LSU Game: A+ That game was bananas. The CN team discussed afterwards whether the game should have even gone to overtime, as Texas A&M spiked the ball with just a second left before tying the game as time expired. Remembering how Nebraska was penalized just before halftime against Minnesota for spiking the ball with under three seconds, some thought the game should have ended there. Turns out that since the clock was restarted with three seconds left, A&M could spike the ball legally.

Ohio State: A+ Sometimes, only one game matters.

Gus Johnson: F Urban Meyer isn’t under fire for his football coaching.

Michigan State: D+ Well, you did finally score a couple of touchdowns this week.

Wisconsin: F Husker fans felt the same way last November, in being glad football season is finally over. Only last season, though.

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