I know. If “ifs and buts” were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.
A “What If” series is perfect for the off-season. It is unproductive. It is a waste of time. It won’t change anything, but it is the off-season. Right now, I am up to five “what ifs” for the 2018 season.
The score was 28-13 and Iowa had the ball at Nebraska’s three yard line. Iowa had been running up and down the field the entire game. It is fourth and two, and it was decision time for Kirk Ferentz.
Kick a field goal and go up 18. Keep the momentum going and cruise to a comfortable victory over Nebraska.
The other option, obviously is to go for it on fourth down and put a rusty nail in Nebraska’s football season via a fake field-goal. As many of us know, Coach Ferentz chose to try and end the game at that moment.
Thanks to senior OLB Luke Gifford, Iowa failed and Nebraska got the ball back and turned it into a competitive game.
Iowa had gone for fake field goals two times prior in that season against Minnesota and Penn State. Both attempts resulted in touchdowns.
So it appeared that Nebraska was prepared for a possible fake field goal. At the moment it happened, I couldn’t believe Kirk Ferentz went for it.
The other side of the argument, is that if they failed then Nebraska has the ball starting at their own three yard line.
So what do I think happens if Iowa makes a field goal and pushes the lead to 18? I think they go on and win by 24-30 points. The simple reason is because it appeared that Nebraska’s defense did not have an answer to the Iowa running game. I do not know if they ran out of motivation? Or if they ran out of gas at the end of the season but Iowa was imposing its will on the Nebraska front-seven.
Then it all changed. The failed fake-field goal turned into a 98 yard touchdown drive. That drive included Nebraska’s own trickery as Luke Gifford took the direct snap and ran for a first down.
Then Nebraska’s defense got a stop that it was not even close to making for the entire game up to that point. They found some energy and motivation it was lacking in the first two and a half quarters.
Then Nebraska came back and scored again. Add the two-point conversion and we have a tie game.
Nebraska lost on a last second field-goal but you feel a little bit better going into the off-season. That is regardless of whether Nebraska coaches and players would admit to such a thing.
So what if? What if Iowa decided to go the safe direction and kick the field goal?
I believe that if Iowa kicks the field goal to go up 31-13, then Nebraska likely gets the ball back. Ends up punting and then by the end of the third quarter Iowa is up 38-13 and who knows where it would have gone from there.