IOWA CITY, Iowa – Kirk Ferentz was bound to post his 150th career victory sooner or later, but Iowa made sure his history-making win was going to be remembered for more than just his acceptance into select company. Coming off their most lopsided Big Ten victory in 37 years, the Hawkeyes hope to close their regular season out with a flurry Friday when they host Nebraska in the battle for the Heroes Trophy.
TV: Noon ET, FOX. LINE: Iowa -10.
Iowa scored 28 points in the second quarter to roll to a 35-point halftime lead and continued to pour it on in the second half during last weekend's 63-0 romp over Illinois, ending a three-game slide by posting its largest conference win since a 64-0 triumph over Northwestern in 1981. As a result, Ferentz joined Woody Hayes (202), Amos Alonzo Stagg (199), Bo Schembechler (194) and Joe Paterno (162) as only the fifth coach in conference history to win 150 games as a member of the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers battled the snow and a wind chill bordering on single digits last weekend, getting three fourth-quarter field goals from freshman Barret Pickering to rally past Michigan State 9-6 for their fourth win in five games following a 0-6 start. "Every week I've been coaching them, there's a little more fight. Today's the most I've seen. That was a hard game to win. … Our guys had to keep grinding, and the defense had to keep coming up with stops," Nebraska coach Scott Frost told reporters.
ABOUT NEBRASKA (4-7, 3-5 Big Ten)
The wintry conditions played a large role in the Cornhuskers' ability to generate only 248 total yards after amassing at least 450 in a school-record seven straight games, but it didn't keep Devine Ozigbo from rushing for 74 yards and becoming the 36th Nebraska player to run for at least 1,000 in a season. With sophomore wideout JD Spielman (66 receptions, 818 yards, eight touchdowns) sidelined due to an ankle injury, Stanley Morgan Jr. shook off a slow start to finish with four catches and become the program's all-time leader with 182. Senior safety Antonio Reed had a career day versus the Spartans, registering a season-high seven tackles - including a career-high three for loss - his first career sack, two forced fumbles and his first interception of the season.
ABOUT IOWA (7-4, 4-4)
The Hawkeyes put the clamps on an Illinois offense averaging 41 points, 549.3 yards and 348.3 rushing yards over its previous three games, holding the Fighting Illini to 220 total yards and 138 rushing yards while also forcing four turnovers. Mekhi Sargent rushed for 121 yards to become the first Hawkeye to run for at least 100 yards this season, while fellow sophomore Toren Young also ran for two touchdowns and added 67 yards on the ground. Tight ends Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson caught all three of Nate Stanley's touchdown passes in the rout; Fant's 19 career receiving TDs rank third all-time in Big Ten history for a tight end and leave him two shy of a tie for second place in school history regardless of position.
1. Iowa's 35-point outburst before the break against Illinois was its largest offensive output in a half since scoring 42 in the second half versus Nebraska last season en route to a 56-14 rout.
2. Last weekend's victory marked the first time the Cornhuskers won a game without scoring a touchdown since a 3-0 victory over Kansas State in 1937.
3. The Hawkeyes have held five opponents to a season-low point total and posted two shutouts - their most since 1997.
PREDICTION: Iowa 31, Nebraska 27