RUNNING GAME (C)
Adrian Martinez was strong on Nebraska's opening march with a 4-yard gain on third-and-1 as well as an 18-yard run in which he broke a couple of tackles. The main issue in the first half was the Huskers held the ball for only 9 minutes, 11 seconds. They ended up with 33 carries for 140 yards, or 4.2 per carry.
PASSING GAME (B)
Martinez's 28-yard touchdown throw to Maurice Washington in the fourth quarter was executed perfectly all the way around. But Martinez didn't get enough air under his critical interception early in the final period. He finished 26-for-38 for 260 yards and two touchdowns, with the one pick. He was strong from the outset, going 6-for-8 for 52 yards on Nebraska's opening drive. However, Iowa's defensive ends, A.J. Epenesa and Anthony Nelson, asserted themselves midway through the second quarter with back-to-back sacks.
AGAINST THE RUN (D)
Iowa flexed its muscles on its opening drive with gains of 5, 7, 6 and 6 yards. Yes, a sign of things to come. The Hawkeyes, averaging 152.55 rushing yards entering the day (88th nationally), ended up with 266 on 5.9 per carry. They controlled the tempo throughout much of the game, mostly keeping it simple with stretch runs. The cutback lanes were there as Nebraska defenders pursued hard.
AGAINST THE PASS (B)
Credit to Nate Stanley and T.J. Hockenson for their execution in a do-or-die situation on fourth-and-8 — plus, Nebraska's coverage on the critical play was a bit soft. However, Tyrin Ferguson's tipped pass near the line was a huge play as NU charged back in the second half. Hockenson (five catches, 54 yards) established himself with a 25-yard reception on Iowa's opening drive in which he essentially escorted safety Tre Neal down the sideline for about 10 of those yards. Stanley's TD pass to finish the drive was a beauty. But Stanley also missed Noah Fant as he broke free into the secondary for what would've been a long first-half gain. Fant had just one catch.
SPECIAL TEAMS (B)
Nebraska wasn't fooled by Iowa's fake field goal late in the third quarter and got the stop. NU came right back with a successful fake punt that resulted in Luke Gifford's first-down dash on his first career carry. Meanwhile, Cam Taylor made an excellent tackle at Iowa's 15 on the Hawkeyes' second kickoff return. And how about Barret Pickering? The freshman drilled a 46-yard field goal into the wind to pull Nebraska to 21-13 to close the first half. Isaac Armstrong's 43-yard punt out of NU's end zone was critical to begin the second half. The bad field position was the result of a bad decision by Washington on Iowa's kickoff — he took a knee after he muffed the catch, pinning NU at its 7. Armstrong later hit a 34-yarder out of the end zone but was bailed out by JoJo Domann's excellent tackle.
GAME MANAGEMENT (A)
Nebraska drew only three flags for 35 yards, continuing its improvement in that area.
Excellent call to spring Gifford for the first down via a 5-yard run on the fake punt deep in Nebraska's territory. An unnecessary roughness penalty pushed the ball to the NU 29.
Competitors get tired of pats on the back following losses. But if you saw Nebraska's last two losses to Iowa, you understand why we keep telling you Scott Frost's program is making progress.