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Grades: Iowa 28, Nebraska 21

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Iowa vs. Nebraska, 11.26

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras (7) gets protection from his offensive line as Nebraska's Garrett Nelson is pushed away by lineman Nick DeJong (56) in the third quarter Friday at Memorial Stadium.

Steven M. Sipple weighs in with his report card from the Huskers' game against Iowa.


Nebraska leaned hard into its ground game on its opening drive, rushing the ball 10 times (out of 12 plays) for 33 yards en route to a touchdown. Jaquez Yant got the start at running back after not playing at all last week. He carried 13 times for 44 yards and a touchdown. Freshman quarterback Logan Smothers, making his first collegiate start, ran the ball pretty well (24 times for 64 yards). But he lost a critical fumble early in the fourth quarter. 


Smothers gunned a 19-yard completion to Samori Toure on his first pass and ended the first half 5-for-5 for 58 yards. He finished the game 16-for-22 for 198 yards, with an interception on the final drive that sealed Iowa's win. His 40-yard strike to Omar Manning set up Nebraska's third touchdown. Smothers, though, also had a couple of other rough spots. Example: He was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a fourth-quarter safety that pulled Iowa to 21-18 behind. 


Iowa finished with 186 yards on 37 carries (5.0 yards per carry). Tyler Goodson set the tone on Iowa's opening series with 28 yards on four carries, but he lost a key fumble as the Hawkeyes threatened to score in the third quarter. He got redemption with a 55-yard sprint in the fourth quarter to set up Iowa's go-ahead touchdown. Nebraska also had some trouble defending fullback Monte Pottebaum, who popped a 26-yard run on a third-and-1 in the third quarter. 


Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla completed a couple of third-down passes on the Hawkeyes' opening drive, most notably a 30-yard strike to tight end Sam LaPorta. However, Nebraska's pass rush kicked in harder during the second series with a sack by Ty Robinson. Spencer Petras started the second half at quarterback for Iowa. Combined, Padilla and Petras were 13-for-27 for 178 yards, and NU wound up with two sacks. 


Once again, this was a major problem area for Nebraska. NU opened the fourth quarter by having a punt blocked, with Kyler Fisher returning it for a touchdown to pull Iowa to 21-16 behind. Henry Marchese recorded the punt block on William Przystup's attempt after rushing virtually untouched off the right side of the line. On the bright side, Phalen Sanford made an excellent tackle of Charlie Jones on Nebraska's first punt, a 43-yarder out of the Huskers' end zone. Przystup's second punt traveled only 32 yards. 


Excellent call on a fourth-and-1 in the second quarter when tight end Travis Vokolek went in motion to the right and leaked out for a 6-yard reception. On the same drive, Nebraska executed a nice double-option play, with running back Brody Belt taking a handoff and pitching to Yant for a gain of 6 yards. Play-calling wasn't an issue. 


Two of Nebraska's penalties led to first-half field goals by Iowa. Caleb Tannor's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was a result of him swatting at the arm of a referee, a no-no that handed Iowa 15 yards in Husker territory. Robinson's 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty was the result of him putting his hands on Padilla's face mask. All told, NU had five penalties, one more than Iowa.


The low score reflects the predictable nature of the outcome. Iowa capitalizes on massive Nebraska breakdowns. Huge surprise.



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Husker sports columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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