Danny Langsdorf doesn't play up the rivalry aspect of the Nebraska-Iowa series. Yes, proximity is a factor in the discussion, he says, as is the fact the game is on Friday right after Thanksgiving. But Husker players shouldn't regard the game differently than other opponents, especially conference opponents, he says.
Make no mistake, though, the Nebraska offensive coordinator has a healthy respect for the Hawkeyes.
"They've been a tough, physical team against us," he said following Monday's practice.
Nebraska won three of the first four meetings against Iowa as Big Ten opponents. But Iowa has won the last two games, including a 40-10 decision last season in Iowa City.
"They've been a very physical defense every time we've faced them since I've been here," said Langsdorf, in his third season at Nebraska. "Top to bottom, they fly around to the ball. They've been tough against us in the run game."
Iowa (6-5, 3-5 Big Ten) has allowed only 20.5 points per game, which ranks 26th nationally. The Hawkeyes have scored four defensive touchdowns, a total that's tied for fifth nationally.
"They'll hit you in the mouth in that first play of the game," he said. "If you're not ready for it, they can send you back a little bit."
Other nuggets from Langsdorf:
* He fully understands how Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell has come to lead the Big Ten and rank third nationally in tackles per game (11.7). "He's after the ball, all the time," the coach said.
"He's a guy we've got our eyes on."
* Nebraska found some running room in the second half against Penn State, highlighted by Mikale Wilbon's 24-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
"I thought we spread them out a little bit better and got some creases," Langsdorf said.
Wilbon scored on a zone play.
"You have to enough (blockers) in the box to cover guys up, but spreading them out a little bit creates some lanes," he said.
He said Nebraska had some opportunities to hit some big runs early in the game, "but we didn't come out of a couple tackles great; we got caught up on some shoestrings."
* Langsdorf said senior David Knevel (6-9, 315) played OK in his first career start at right guard Saturday. Knevel likely will start again at RG against Iowa, the coach said.
* Tyler Hoppes, a senior from Lincoln Southwest, has responded well to being targeted more this season, Langsdorf said. "The fact he's closing in on a record is kind of neat for him." The 6-4, 245-pound Hoppes has 30 receptions this season, two shy of the school record for a tight end. Mike McNeill has 32 in 2008.