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3 keys for Nebraska football to beat Iowa



Nebraska football
Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football has a huge game against Iowa on Friday and here are three keys for the Huskers.

We are closing in on Nebraska football and Iowa. It’s been said here and we’ll say it again: this is a huge game.

At least it is for Nebraska. Iowa is headed to the Big Ten title game next week either way. The Hawkeyes would surely love payback on their rivals for the win at Kinnick Stadium a season ago.

But the Huskers have even more at stake. A win means going to a bowl game, while a loss would mean the season is over. Nobody wants that and Nebraska football fans, players, and coaches are desperate for the Huskers to play in the postseason for the first time since 2017.

Nebraska is a slight favorite over the Hawkeyes, who are 9-2 despite starting Deacon Hill, their backup quarterback for most of the season. The Huskers started their third different quarterback of the season last week, but Chubba Purdy will start on Friday.

With a bowl game on the line, here are three keys to a Nebraska win.

Win the turnover battle

The best thing that Purdy did at quarterback was take care of the football. Yes, he was responsible for two touchdowns that covered more than 50 yards, plus multiple explosive plays through the air and on the ground, but not giving the ball away has been a big struggle for this team.

Purdy had one interception but it was on the final play of the game, on a 4th-and-16. If he can take care of the ball and if Nebraska can force a turnover or two, the Huskers would have a great shot of winning this game.

In fact, if Nebraska wins the turnover battle, it will win the game. Iowa averages 1.1 takeaways per game, but the defense doesn’t take the ball away as much as in the past.

Execute on special teams

Iowa dominates in hidden areas such as the kicking game. Iowa is always good at returning kicks and while they’ll be without their elite return guy — Cooper DeJean — the Hawkeyes always seem to find a way to make things happen on special teams.

So, a big key for Nebraska is to not give away points in the kicking game. Don’t have a punt blocked for a touchdown or a safety. Don’t miss any field goals and have zero turnovers.

The coverage units for Nebraska have been good. I’d like to see the Huskers have an elite special teams outing, but as long as they don’t give up any impactful plays to Iowa and make their kicks, that will do.

Out-rush Iowa

Nebraska has out-rushed most opponents this season, but doing it this week won’t be easy. Iowa allows just 3.1 yards per attempt. Nebraska leads the Big Ten in rushing yards with 186 per game.

The quarterbacks have helped that. Iowa is ranked 10th in the Big Ten in rushing yards at just 120 yards per game. The Hawkeyes are averaging just 3.6 yards per attempt.

That’s an advantage for Nebraska. If the Huskers force Iowa to be one-dimensional, that should allow Tony White to attack. I think there’s a good chance they make that happen. I also think there’s a good chance that Nebraska has more rushing yards than Iowa, which would be a good sign on Black Friday.

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Chris has worked in sports journalism since 2005 writing for multiple newspapers and websites such as the Bleacher Report and Fansided before starting Husker Big Red, A fan site for hardcore followers of the #Huskers offering articles, podcasts, videos and more exclusive content on all things Nebraska