Nebraska used a stifling defensive effort and
school-record performance from I-back Rex Burkhead, as Nebraska picked up its
ninth win of the season with 20-7 victory Friday afternoon in the inaugural
In front of a sellout crowd of 85,595, the 318th
consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium, and an ABC National audience, Burkhead
carried a career-high 38 times for 160 yards and a touchdown to increase his
season rushing total to 1,268 yards. His 38 totes broke the school record of 37
by Cory Ross in the 2003 Alamo Bowl, as Burkhead went over 100 yards for the
seventh time this season and 11th time in his career.
While Burkhead punished the Hawkeye defense on the
ground, the Blackshirts forced two turnovers and held the Hawkeyes to just 270
total yards, including 88 yards on the ground, to hold Iowa to 100 yards below
its 2011 season average of 370.4.
Senior Lavonte David led the Blackshirts with eight tackles,
a sack, a forced fumble and fumble recovery in his final game at Memorial Stadium.
One of 21 seniors in their final home game, the Butkus Award semifinalist now
has 122 tackles on the season and 274 during his two-year career at Nebraska.
With the win, Nebraska finishes the regular season with a
9-3 record, its fourth consecutive nine-win season under Bo Pelini and 38th
time in the last 42 seasons that a Husker football team has won at least nine
After a strong defensive first quarter, the Huskers stuck
first, driving 52 yards in 10 plays before Brett Maher’s 40-yard field goal
gave the Huskers a 3-0 lead. Wide
receiver Kenny Bell played a major role in the drive, catching two passes for
23 yards, while also drawing a defensive holding penalty to help give the drive
some early momentum. With the Huskers facing 3rd-and-6 at its own 30,
Bell was held by Iowa’s Tyler Nielsen to give NU a first down at the Husker
40-yard line. Two plays later, Martinez found Bell for a 19-yard completion to
get the ball into Iowa territory for the first time in the game. After an Ameer
Abdullah 10-yard run, the Huskers were unable to keep the drive going and
settled for Maher’s 18th field goal of the season.
Iowa looked like it was going to answer as the Hawkeyes moved
into Husker territory after James Vandenberg found Keenan Davis for 16-yard
gain to the Husker 35-yard line. But, after an incomplete pass, Husker nickel
back Ciante Evans read a wide receiver screen play and tackled Marvin McNutt
for a 3-yard loss on second down before solid Husker pass coverage forced
Vandenberg to scramble to avoid a sack, as Iowa was forced to punt.
Nebraska then went to the ground attack for a sustained
drive, going 80-yards in 15 plays, finished off by a six-yard touchdown pass
from Taylor Martinez to Kyler Reed. The catch was Reed’s first touchdown of the
season after hauling in eight scoring strikes a year ago. After an Iowa pass
interference call, the Huskers pounded away at the Iowa defense, running on 13
of the next 14 plays, as Burkhead carried nine times for 35 yards on the drive.
Facing a 4th-and-1 at the Iowa 29, Burkhead kept the drive alive
with a two-yard run to move the chains. Facing a 3rd-and-3 at the
Iowa six-yard line, Martinez ran a beautiful play fake to Burkhead and found
Reed uncovered in the end zone for the score to make it 10-0 with 32 seconds
left in the half.
Nebraska controlled the ball in the first half, holding
the ball for 17:59 and outgaining Iowa, 196-98 in the opening half.
The Huskers went on another long sustained drive midway
through the third quarter before Maher’s second field goal of the game made it
13-0. Nebraska went 82 yards in 12 plays, relying on a punishing ground game
along with the big play ability to Bell. The redshirt freshman made a spectacular
diving catch on a 20-yard catch to midfield before Martinez found Bell again on
a 28-yard catch and run before a horse collar tackle spotted the ball at the
Iowa 11-yard line. Nebraska got the ball to the Iowa three-yard line, before
settling for Maher’s second field goal of the afternoon.
Bell finished the day by tying his career high in catches
with five and a career-high 93 yards through the air. Bell’s 93 yards were the
most by a Husker this season, topping Jamal Turner’s 84-yard game against
On Iowa’s next possession, the Blackshirts came up big,
as David stripped C.J. Fiedorwicz and recovered the fumble at the Nebraska
48-yard line, but the Huskers were unable to capitalize on the Hawkeye miscue,
keeping Iowa in the game.
Nebraska extended the lead to 20-0 on its next offensive
series, going 80 yards in 10 plays as Burkhead went the final two yards for his
15th rushing touchdown of the season. After six straight carries by
Burkhead got the ball close to midfield, Martinez found Bell for a 22-yard
catch to get the ball into Hawkeye territory. After Burkhead gashed the
Hawkeyes for 12 yards, Martinez hooked up with Quincy Enunwa for a 19-yard
strike to the Iowa two-yard line before Burkhead cashed in on the next play.
The Hawkeyes were able to escape a shutout late in the
fourth quarter with an 80-yard scoring drive over 10 plays. Vandenberg got Iowa
into the no-huddle offense and found the endzone in 1:53. After the Huskers
were called for pass interference and defensive holding in the endzone over a
span of three plays, Marcus Coker got the Hawkeyes on the board with a two-yard
Nebraska will now wait until Sunday, Dec. 5, to find out
what bowl they will be selected for. A full list of the Big Ten’s bowl
affiliates can be found here at www.bigten.org.
Final: #22 Nebraska 20, Iowa 7
Friday, Nov. 25, 2011
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
First Quarter (Tie, 0-0)
Second Quarter (NEB, 10-0)
NEB - 11:22 - Maher 40 FG - 10 plays, 52 yards, 4:40, NEB 3-0
NEB - 0:32 - Reed 6 pass from Martinez (Maher kick) - 15 plays, 80 yards, 5:58, NEB 10-0
Third Quarter (NEB, 13-0)
NEB - 4:42 - Maher 21 FG - 12 plays, 82 yards, 5:08, NEB 13-0
Fourth Quarter (NEB, 20-7)
NEB - 11:25 - Burkhead 2 run (Maher kick) - 10 plays, 80 yards, 4:01, NEB 20-0
IOWA - 3:26 - Coker 2 run (Meyer kick) - 10 plays, 80 yards, 1:53, NEB 20-7
Final: #22 Nebraska 20, Iowa 7
Time of Game: 3:06
Game Start: 11:07 a.m. (central)