Josh Kelly, Senior Sports Editor - Iowa 34, Nebraska 31
Iowa’s 11-0 season hasn’t been the sexiest, but the Hawkeyes have been getting the job done. That’s all you can ask of any college football team. The record speaks louder than the wins themselves. To consistently win games, no matter what schedule you have, is tough.
Both teams have a lot of confidence and a lot on the line, but desire isn’t going to get you a win. C.J. Beathard and company are playing solid, sound football. The 1-2 punch of Jordan Canzeri and LeShun Daniels is something Nebraska wishes it had. So yes, the obvious advantage goes to the undefeated Hawkeyes, as opposed to the 5-6 Huskers. It’s not that much of a David versus Goliath kind of matchup, though.
Black Friday will be a boxing match between the Big Ten schools. Armstrong will improvise as usual against a defense that hasn’t been tested with his kind of talent, and the Hawkeyes will try to shove a balanced attack down the Huskers’ throat in Memorial Stadium.
In a game that will go down to the wire, the Hawkeyes will pull away with a late touchdown run by LeShun Daniels. Nebraska fans shouldn’t be too livid, though. This is a top five team we’re talking about.
Brett Nierengarten, Online Sports Editor - Iowa 34, Nebraska 20
I’m going to be honest, guys, I don’t see why everyone is so confident the Huskers will win this game. I don’t think they do, and I don’t think it will be particularly close.
It hasn’t been pretty, but Iowa gets it done week after week. And its two most impressive wins of the season have been on the road against ranked Wisconsin and Northwestern teams.
Running back Jordan Canzeri is back in the lineup. Couple that with LeShun Daniels in the backfield, and the Hawkeyes will be able to pound the Huskers’ defense.
It’s going to be cold, which means the run game will be key. Yes, Imani Cross has sparked the Husker’s ground game lately, but they’re still largely unproven running the ball. Nebraska won’t be able to rely as much on Tommy Armstrong to make plays when it’s 34 degrees.
Most importantly, this game goes beyond the X’s and O’s. The Hawkeyes have a shot to finish undefeated and close in on a berth in the College Football Playoff. Playing in a rivalry-ish game against a team that beat them at home last season will only fuel the fire.
Nick Wilkinson, Print Sports Editor - Nebraska 31, Iowa 27
This year, everything is flipped. Ferentz is having another great season, but it hasn’t been pretty. Iowa beat Wisconsin 10-6, Illinois 29-20 and Minnesota 40-35. All of those wins were rather sloppy on offense, but Iowa’s performance against Wisconsin is a testament to its defensive prowess.
I guess I have to be the jerk who says Iowa is the most overrated college football team in the country. 2002, 2004 and 2010 come to mind when you look at Iowa. Kirk Ferentz’s best season record (11-2) came in those three years.
A bowl berth is on the line for Nebraska and an undefeated record is on the line for Iowa. Which means more? Iowa is already a lock for the Big Ten Championship against who knows who and a bowl berth could benefit Mike Riley’s legacy.
Mike Riley needs this. The Huskers need this. I think they have what it takes to defeat the Hawkeyes in Lincoln Friday. Let’s pretend Nebraska walked into Memorial Stadium to take on Iowa at 10-1.
That’s not how it is, but a win against another college football playoff hopeful will erase losses to BYU, Miami, Illinois and Wisconsin.
Vanessa Daves, Football Beat Writer - Iowa 35, Nebraska 31
Some are saying the bye week came just in time, but I’m not so sure. It came right when the Huskers hit their stride with back-to-back wins. Is a break what they needed in the midst of a streak? And let’s not forget there are plenty of distractions for the football team after a sexual assault was reported at the residence of Tommy Armstrong and Jordan Westerkamp. Yes, there’s certainly a lot more going on than meets the eye - and those distractions linger. However, Nebraska beat Michigan State earlier this season, and now, I’m convinced anything can happen. Nebraska will have the home field advantage, and that could be just what the team needs to beat undefeated Iowa. I think, like half the games this season, it’ll all come down to the last second. I don’t see the Huskers walking out of this one with a win.
Michael Dixon, Football Beat Writer - Nebraska 28, Iowa 24
Even at 11-0, the Hawkeyes have flaws. They just haven’t played anyone good enough to exploit them.
As of Sunday morning, Iowa sits No. 3 in the AP Top 25 - its highest ranking in 13 years. Most of us expected the Hawkeyes to make a run at the Big Ten West, but threatening to make the College Football Playoff? No way.
But all the Hawkeyes have to do is win. They’re already in the Big Ten title game, and whether it’s against Michigan State, Ohio State or Michigan (the scenarios can get complicated, so we’ll remain ambiguous), if they win this week and next, they’re in.
Overlooking Nebraska is really, really dangerous. If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that Nebraska is likely much better than its record. At 5-6, the Huskers have one final shot at bowl eligibility, and nothing would be more irritating in coach Mike Riley’s first year than missing the postseason.
Nebraska isn’t better than Iowa. And it probably shouldn’t win.
But it wasn’t better than Michigan State, and it probably shouldn’t have won that, either.
Let’s really make this a rivalry. I’ll take Nebraska in a close one.