Nebraska clinches spot in Big Ten title game thanks in part to Iowa’s conservative approach

Frank Schwab
November 23, 2012

At some point, the murmurs in the Iowa crowd were quite obviously imploring the Hawkeyes coaches to do anything to try and win the game against Nebraska. The coaches didn't listen.

How conservative was Iowa? The Hawkeyes once punted from Nebraska's 30-yard line. Yes, it was fourth and 13 and there was a strong wind, but that decision was one of the many flabbergasting ones by a team that came in with a 4-7 record. Iowa punted into the end zone, giving it a whopping 10-yard net gain. Have we mentioned Kirk Ferentz has one of the most coach-friendly contracts in sports?

Nebraska deserves credit for winning a tough, hard-fought victory. Rex Burkhead played after missing four straight games due to an injury, and ground out 88 yards as the Cornhuskers got a 13-7 win that clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game next week against Wisconsin.

[Dr. Saturday's bowl projections: How much more chaos is on the way?]

The game was played in heavy winds that kept both quarterbacks at less than 100 yards passing for the day. Although the game was ugly, Nebraska finished it with a dominating fourth quarter on defense. Iowa helped by being safer than someone in Vegas who stays on 8 while playing blackjack.

Iowa had the wind at its back in the fourth quarter, but called the game like it was going into the wind. Iowa gained just one first down in the fourth quarter. Its last two series were horrific. On the first, it ran three times and then punted on fourth and 3 from its own 48, and neither the playcalling or the decision to punt seemed to sit well with fans. The Iowa crowd sounded really annoyed when Iowa got the ball back with less than four minutes left and acted like it was sitting on a lead. A run and short pass gained 12 yards and took about 1:20 as fans continued to scream to hurry up. Then the Hawkeyes threw an interception on a short pass that sealed the loss. Keep in mind, Iowa had four wins. But hey, at least Ferentz kept the losing margin under 10.

Iowa starts its long offseason with that frustrating loss. Nebraska has more important things to look forward to, starting next week against the Badgers.

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