Week 14 Big Ten: Nebraska at Iowa

    Nebraska (8-3) at Iowa (7-4) Nov. 28, 12:00, ABC Here’s The Deal: There but for a few key plays here and there, this might have had a big role in the Big

    November 26, 2014

    Nebraska (8-3) at Iowa (7-4) Nov. 28, 12:00, ABC 

    Here’s The Deal: There but for a few key plays here and there, this might have had a big role in the Big Ten West title chase. Instead, it’s for the bowl pecking order, and in the minds of some, possibly for the coaching future of the losing team. 

    Iowa got the offense rocking and rolling late against Wisconsin and almost pulled out the key win, but instead it lost a 26-24 heartbreaker that, even in defeat, might have been the team’s most impressive performance of the year considering the circumstances. With a second straight Big Ten big boy coming into their house, the Hawkeyes have to take advantage of the opportunity with the hopes for an eight-win regular season on the line. This might not have been what the team was hoping for coming to the season, but a second straight win over Nebraska and a shot at nine wins would be terrific. 

    Bo Pelini is always feeling heat, but he’s also always cranking out nine-win teams. A ten-win season is still on the table by winning the last two games, but first, the defense has to play far, far better than it did over the last two games against Wisconsin and Minnesota, and Ameer Abdullah and the offense have to start cranking things up again. Even with all of the wins this year, closing out with three straight losses would be a disaster. 

    Why Nebraska Might Win: The Huskers need a spark from somewhere. Effort isn’t the problem, execution is, but the team hasn’t come up with many breaks over the last few weeks. Part of the problem has been the defense’s inability to come up with key stops to force punts, putting the ball into the hands of one of the most dangerous weapons, De’Mornay Pierson-El. The Huskers as a team are averaging 13.6 yards per try with two touchdowns, good for tenth in the nation, with Pierson-El averaging over 15 yards per pop. Iowa’s punting game overall has been a fat load of nothing, averaging just 3.9 yards per return and coming up with around 35 yards per boot. 

    Why Iowa Might Win: Nebraska can talk all it wants to about trying to improve the run defense, and working hard to get better, but it’s been an utter disaster over the last two games. The Melvin Gordon game was an issue for a variety of reasons, but Minnesota was able to rumble even with star back David Cobb out. Iowa’s ground attack didn’t do much against Minnesota or Wisconsin, but it’s been generally effective enough to counteract Jake Rudock, who got red hot at the right time against the Badgers, providing a bit of balance and more effectiveness. Nebraska will come out all fired up, but one or two good drives early should shatter the confidence. 

    Who To Watch Out For: Ameer Abdullah, it’s time to be Ameer Abdullah again. The Doak Walker finalist got banged up against Purdue, and he hasn’t been the same since getting bottled up by Wisconsin for 69 yards and hitting Minnesota for 98 yards and a score on 20 carries. He had his worst game of last year in the loss to Iowa, coming up with just 85 yards and a score on 23 carries, but Nebraska needs him to bust out and be dominant. 

    What’s Going To Happen: Nebraska is 8-0 this year when scoring more than 24 points, and 0-3 when scoring 24 or fewer. Iowa gives up 22.8 points per game. The Huskers will play better than they have over the last two weeks, but it still won’t be enough against an Iowa offense that will pick up where it left off from late in the Wisconsin loss. 

    Prediction: Iowa 27 … Nebraska 24 
    Line: Iowa -1 o/u: 57 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Birdman – 1: Horrible Bosses 2 … 3.5 

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