The hapless Nebraska Cornhuskers would love to end their season on a high note by knocking off the No. 16-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. No Adrian Martinez means major adjustments are coming for a Huskers team that has lost their last five straight games. They weren’t able to come away with a victory last week against the Wisconsin Badgers, but they did manage to cover as 10-point dogs against one of the best defensive teams in the country. Meanwhile, Iowa failed to cover as 10-point favorites in a 33-22 victory over Illinois.
No excuses for the HawkeyesDo you remember when the Hawkeyes were the No. 2-ranked team in the country? That feels like forever ago at this point—doesn’t it?
Iowa got dismantled by Purdue and flat-out obliterated by Wisconsin. And everyone quickly moved on and forgot. To be fair, Iowa hasn’t done a great job of making people remember with nothing but subpar performances in the aftermath of their only two losses of the season.
They need to make people remember in this game against Nebraska.
Their chances of getting into the Big Ten title game aren’t completely dead if Minnesota can knock off Wisconsin on Saturday and they beat the Huskers. It’ll be a Nebraska team playing without its starting quarterback and on a five-game losing streak. So there will be NO excuses for the Hawkeyes in this game.
They still have a top-four scoring defense in the conference with opponents averaging only 16.9 points per game. The defense is sniffing out the run game easier than a mouse finding a block of cheddar in a shoebox maze. So that would leave the Huskers in the seemingly impossible position of having to test Iowa’s passing defense, which already has 21 interceptions on the season.
Yes, I know Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla might be making his first road start as well, but then again, Spencer Petras isn’t throwing for 2,863 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was no Adrian Martinez under center.
As long as Padilla avoids costly turnovers and running back Tyler Goodson gets his legs churning on the ground, the Hawkeyes should be well on their way to positioning themselves for a possible Big Ten Championship berth.
Can the Huskers finish?The Huskers’ record isn’t indicative of their talent. They are a much better team than they’ve looked like on paper.
Aside from the loss to Ohio State, all of the games in their extended losing streak have been decided by no more than a touchdown. So this Huskers team has a reputation for fighting to the very end. The problem is the end never quite turns out in their favor. Call it Murphy’s Law or just straight up bad luck, but you can rest assured something ridiculous will get called—or in the case of last week’s meeting with Wisconsin, not get called.
The call in question. pic.twitter.com/Luiu2OfAkb— Dirk Chatelain (@dirkchatelain) November 20, 2021
Crying over spilt milk isn’t going to garner any sympathy for the Huskers. The zebras haven’t done them any favors, but at the end of the day, they can’t put all of their losses on officiating. They have to do a better job of closing out games.
Let’s see if they can finally get over the hump against the shaky Hawkeyes.
This Iowa team hasn’t looked right since the loss to Purdue, and they’ll also likely be starting sophomore Alex Padilla for the first time on the road. It would be nice if the pass rush could finally find a little life for the Huskers, but I wouldn’t hold my breath with that group. At the very least, the defensive front needs to hold up strong at the point of attack. If they can slow down the run game, they would heap tremendous pressure on Padilla by forcing him to throw in third-and-long situations.
Iowa will obviously be looking to do the same on the other side of the ball against true freshman quarterback Logan Smothers, who is expected to start for Adrian Martinez. We’re about to learn a lot about the future for the Huskers in this game.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This is a mess of a situation for the Huskers.
Their No. 1 offensive playmaker, Adrian Martinez, is officially out for this game with a shoulder injury. It’s an even bigger gut punch after watching him go to work against a Wisconsin defense that ranked among the best in the country with 351 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. If he could do that to the Badgers, imagine what he could have done against this Hawkeyes defense.
But the Huskers won’t have Martinez, and they might not even have top running back Rahmir Johnson. That could leave them with all sorts of question marks with true freshman Logan Smothers starting under center.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath, Huskers fans.
Iowa might have Alex Padilla in at quarterback over the banged up Spencer Petras, but Nebraska isn’t a great pass-rushing team. The Hawkeyes will also still have their running game intact with Tyler Goodson positioned to go over 1,000 yards rushing on Friday.
Say what you want about this Iowa team, but they’re taking the ball away better than anyone. They currently lead the country in interceptions, and they’ll continue to add to it against a young quarterback that will end up struggling.
Give me the points in this one.
Full-Game Total Pick
Iowa hasn’t looked right since getting hammered in back-to-back losses to Purdue and Wisconsin. Nebraska is one of those teams scrappy enough to turn this game into a low-scoring defensive slugfest with both offenses starting backup quarterbacks. Logan Smothers is a true freshman jumping straight into the fire with his lead running back, Rahmir Johnson, possibly out for this game. And Alex Padilla will be testing himself in his first college road start. This game will be every bit as ugly as it sounds like on paper. So don’t worry about bringing your popcorn for this one. I’m taking the under.