Welcome to your worst nightmare, Huskers.
Iowa overcame a slow start and buried Nebraska on the Huskers' home field, 56-14. Akrum Wadley rushed for 159 yards and three touchdowns on just 19 carries, and Nate Stanley went 13-for-20 for 192 yards and two more scores. Iowa finishes the regular season at 7-5 and now patiently awaits its bowl assignment.
Still, even with the lopsided final margin, this one looked like cause for concern in the opening minutes.
After a botched punt snap by Colton Rastetter and two Tanner Lee touchdown passes to Stanley Morgan Jr., the Huskers led 14-7. Ihmir Smith-Marsette then fielded the ensuing kickoff and stepped out at the 1-yard line, and it was fair to start getting nervous again. Iowa responded with a 99-yard touchdown drive, capped by a gorgeous Akrum Wadley run, to tie the game going into the half, however, and the Hawkeyes took advantage of numerous big plays down the stretch to put the game away in impressive fashion.
It's a cliché of course, but there's no substitute for execution, and Iowa played one of its best halves of the season on that front in the second half. Smith-Marsette took the opening kick to the house (aided by a very late block in the back), and even with the flag, Iowa scored just two plays later to take the lead and deflate Memorial Stadium. After the half, the Hawkeye defense allowed just 88 yards and picked Tanner Lee off three times; only once did a Husker drive reach Hawkeye territory in the second half. The Hawkeyes never turned the ball over, didn't drop any easy passes and even executed positive punt returns. Plural!
Truly, the final margin could have been even worse, as Iowa ran 26 of its 33 second-half snaps in Nebraska's territory in the second half. The Hawkeyes failed to convert a 4th and 2 on Nebraska's 29 in the third quarter, and Kirk Ferentz opted to hand off harmlessly on 4th and 11 in Nebraska's red zone on the Hawkeyes' last drive of the game. Respectful, yes, but also just a bit of a bummer, as the rivalry record for points scored was just one point away, with Nebraska's 57-0 win in 1980. Yes, this is basically the only thing we can complain about.
The win is Iowa's fourth in the last five games of the rivalry, and Nebraska's only win came on a miracle comeback; the Hawkeyes have held double-digit leads in each of those five contests, while Nebraska's hasn't had one at all. In fact, today was the first time since 2011 the Huskers even led by 7 points. Today is also, of course, their worst loss in the history of the rivalry.
Iowa 96, Nebraska 24 the last two years. Stunning.— Rick Brown (@ByRickBrown) November 25, 2017
And when you beat your rival by the most points ever, and drop 56 points on their home turf, and take home yet another trophy, and (presumably) send their coach's career to the Great Beyond in the most ignominious fashion, what time is it?
It's time to move your feet, baby!
We'll talk about it more in the coming weeks, but Iowa just went 7-5 (4-5) and took home 3 of 4 rivalry trophies — all with a schedule that ended up even more brutal than expected, a new QB, a rebuilding line, a still-struggling WR corps and a secondary held together by twine and dreams. Standards should still be higher, yes, but the players have something to be proud of.
GO IOWA AWESOME.