Iowa City, Iowa – For the first time since 2011 the home team won in the Nebraska-Iowa series, as the Hawkeyes jumped out to a 6-0 lead and never looked back on their way a 40-10 win on Black Friday to win the HyVee Heroes Game for the second straight year. The road team had won the past four meetings between the two teams following Nebraska’s 20-7 win in Memorial Stadium in 2011.
The Huskers ended the regular season with a 9-3 record, a four-game improvement over last season’s 5-7 regular-season mark.
Iowa was able to dominate the ground game, as it rushed for 264 yards, while holding the Huskers to 90 yards rushing. The Hawkeyes produced a pair of 100-yard rushers, as LeShun Daniels toted the rock 29 times for 158 yards and scored two touchdowns, while Akrum Wadley rushed for 105 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.
The advantage in the run game led to a 33:08-26:52 lead in time of possession for the Hawkeyes.
Senior quarterback C.J. Beathard was efficient for the Hawkeyes when he needed to throw, producing 144 yards and three touchdowns on 10-of-15 passing.
After missing last week’s game against Maryland, Tommy Armstrong Jr. was unable to find a rhythm on Friday. Armstrong Jr. was 13-for-35 through the air for 125 yards and one touchdown. Armstrong made his 44th career start, a new Husker record, breaking Taylor Martinez’s previous mark of 43 career starts.
Freshman I-back Tre Byant led the Huskers on the ground, rushing for 41 yards on 11 carries.
Playing in his final regular-season game, senior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp caught four passes for 50 yards. He now ranks second all-time at Nebraska with 167 career receptions and is 14 receptions shy of Kenny Bell’s school record (181). Westerkamp also increased his career receiving yards to 2,474 yards, and is just two yards shy of Nate Swift (2,476) for third place and five yards shy of Johnny Rodgers (2,479) for second place on the career list.
While the Huskers were unable to get their offense going, they did go without a turnover for the third straight game. It’s the longest streak by the NU offense since 1995 when the Huskers went four straight games without committing a turnover.
Iowa got the ball to start the game and the Blackshirts forced a 3-and-out. The Husker offense took over and nearly went 3-and-out itself, but junior fullback Luke McNitt was called upon for his first carry of the season and converted 4th-and-1 from NU’s own 33-yard line. The Husker couldn’t feed off the momentum though and had to punt four plays later.
The teams traded possession again, without either team crossing into enemy territory. Holding the ball for the third time in the game, the Hawkeyes struck the game’s first blow late in the first quarter when Wadley cutback, found a hole and sprinted 75 yards to give the Hawkeyes a 6-0 lead. It stayed at 6-0 though, as Joshua Kalu sprinted off the right side and blocked Keith Duncan’s PAT attempt.
After a 3-and-out by the Huskers, Iowa took over at its own 23-yard line and needed just one play to build on its lead. Beathard found Riley McCarron on a crossing route and the senior wide receiver sprinted 77 yards to the endzone. Following the PAT, the Hawkeyes led 13-0 with 3:28 left in the first quarter.
The Hawkeyes had 33 yards on their first nine plays of the game, but then notched a total of 152 yards on plays 10 and 11 combined.
The Husker offense crossed into Iowa territory for the first time in the game early in the second quarter when Westerkamp hauled in a 19 yard pass, marking his 36th straight game with a reception. Two plays later Westerkamp added another catch and after being forced out of bounds he was slammed to the turf by Josey Jewell, a 15-yard penalty that gave the Huskers 1st-and-10 at the Iowa 20. Looking to make it a one-score game, NU picked up just two more yards on the drive and had to settle for a 35-yard field goal from Drew Brown that cut Iowa’s lead to 13-3 with 9:57 left in the first half. The 10-play drive spanned 66 yards and lasted 4:13.
The 10-point Iowa lead quickly grew to 17 when the Hawkeyes again broke off a big play. After a five-yard carry on first down, Daniels broke though the NU defensive line and went 56 yards before he was caught by Nate Gerry at the NU eight-yard line. Wadley ran the ball for four yards on 1st-and-goal before Daniels came back in and finished the drive with a four-yard touchdown that put the Hawkeyes ahead 20-3.
Each of Iowa’s three scoring drives in the first half went 69 yards or more, and each lasted four plays or less.
Down 17 points, the Huskers got the ball to start the second half and managed just two yards coming out of the break. Caleb Lightbourn came for his sixth punt of the game and Desmond King flipped the field with a 44-yard return. A late-hit by the Huskers on the play tacked on 13 yards and the Hawkeyes started 1st-and-10 at the NU 13. Three plays later Beathard hit George Kittle for a one-yard touchdown pass. The Hawkeyes decided to go for two and failed, leaving their lead at 26-3.
The Huskers answered back with their first touchdown of the day, but the 14-play drive ate up 4:53 off the clock. Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Husker drove 75 yards and Armstrong hit four different receivers on the drive, including a 13-yard touchdown pass to Stanley Morgan Jr. on 4th-and-10 from the Iowa 13-yard line. With the score, the Huskers cut Iowa’s lead to two scores, 26-10, with 7:47 left in the third quarter. Nebraska would get no closer.
Following the Husker touchdown each team had a pair of 3-and-outs before the Hawkeyes took over at the NU 44-yard line after Lightbourn’s eighth punt of the day. Iowa started the drive with 2:28 left in the third quarter and were able to hold the ball into the fourth quarter. Iowa ate up 6:15 off the clock and capped the drive with Beathard again finding Kittle for a touchdown. Nebraska looked to hold the Hawkeyes to a field-goal try earlier in the drive, but Gerry was flagged for roughing the kicker and three plays later Iowa took advantage of the foul when Beathard tossed his third touchdown of the day.
The Iowa defense pitched another 3-and-out, and the Iowa offense put the game away with a lengthy drive that lasted over eight minutes. The 13-play drive only went 45 yards, but lasted 8:10 and ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Daniels. The Hawkeyes twice converted fourth down on the drive, including a 13-yard run by Beathard on 4th-and-5.
The Huskers will now have to wait until next Sunday to find out what bowl game they will play in. Nebraska will be making its 53rd all-time bowl appearance.
Iowa 40, No. 17 Nebraska 10
Kinnick Stadium (Iowa City, Iowa)
Friday, Nov. 25, 2016
First Quarter (IOWA 13-0)
IOWA 4:55 – Akrum Wadley 75 run (PAT blocked), 2 plays, 80 yards, 0:51, IOWA 6-0
IOWA 3:28 – Riley McCarron 77 pass from C.J. Beathard (Keith Duncan kick), 1 play, 77 yards, 0:11, IOWA 13-0
Second Quarter (IOWA 20-3)
NEB – 9:57 – Drew Brown 35 field goal, 10 plays, 66 yards, 4:13, IOWA 13-3
IOWA – 7:39 – LeShun Daniels 4 run, 4 plays, 69 yards, 2:08, IOWA 20-3
Third Quarter (IOWA 26-10)
IOWA – 12:40 – George Kittle 1 pass from Beathard (2-point failed), 3 plays, 13 yards, 1:15, IOWA 26-3
NEB – 7:47 – Stanley Morgan Jr. 13 pass from Tommy Armstrong Jr. (Brown kick), 14 plays, 4:53, IOWA 26-10
Fourth Quarter (IOWA 40-10)
IOWA – 11:13 – Kittle 6 pass from Beathard (Duncan kick), 12 plays, 44 yards, 6:15, IOWA 33-10
IOWA – 1:55 – Daniels 1 run (Duncan kick), 13 plays, 45 yards, 8:10, IOWA 40-10
Game Start: 2:41 pm
Time of Game: 3:31