- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
By The Sports Xchange November 23, 2012 3:50 PM
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- No. 14 Nebraska relied on its defense and an emotional spark from the return of senior running back Rex Burkhead to outlast Iowa 13-7 on Friday to win the Legends Division of the Big Ten Conference. Nebraska (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) will play Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 1 in Indianapolis, with the winner receiving the conference's automatic berth to the Rose Bowl. On a cold and windy day at Kinnick Stadium, Nebraska's only touchdown came from Burkhead, who'd missed the Huskers' last four games while recovering from a sprained MCL. Burkhead didn't play in the first half but scored on 3-yard run to give Nebraska a 13-7 lead with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter. Iowa (4-8, 2-6) gained only two first downs on its final four possessions, and Nebraska linebacker Alonzo Whaley intercepted James Vandenberg at the Iowa 35-yard line with 2:11 remaining. Burkhead, who finished with 69 yards on 16 carries, then ran four times as Nebraska ran out the clock for their sixth straight victory. On Nebraska's first drive of the second half, with the wind at its back, Burkhead carried five times for only 6 yards but gained 5 yards on a fourth-and-1 play at the Nebraska 44-yard line. Nebraska drove 33 yards in 10 plays, enough for Brett Maher to kick a 52-yard field goal with the wind, to cut Iowa's lead to 7-6 with 9:30 remaining in the third quarter. Two possessions later, Burkhead put Nebraska ahead after Taylor Martinez delivered a 19-yard pass to tight end Ben Cotton to start the series and Braylon Heard followed with an 18-yard run out of a three-running back formation. Iowa led 7-3 at halftime but squandered three scoring chances into a strong north wind in the second quarter. The Hawkeyes, with the help of two Nebraska turnovers and a 29-yard punt return by Micah Hyde, drove to the Nebraska 39-, 21- and 19-yard lines but came away empty each time. Nebraska stopped running back Mark Weisman on fourth-and-1, the Hawkeyes had a pooch punt into the end zone, and Mike Meyer was wide left on a 42-yard field-goal attempt with four seconds remaining in the half. Nebraska, going against the wind in the first quarter, held the ball for 8:09 and drove 75 yards on its opening drive, settling for Maher's 26-yard field goal. The Huskers ran the ball 15 times, mostly on zone read plays with Martinez and Ameer Abdullah, and threw only one pass on their longest drive of the season, a short 3-yard swing pass to Abdullah on third down. Iowa responded by going 62 yards in 12 plays and also throwing just one pass -- a 25-yard completion from Vandenberg to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz to the Nebraska 25. Vandenberg scored on a 1-yard run. NOTES: Nebraska lost starting center Justin Jackson and starting defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler to injury in the first half. ... The first half had only one penalty, for illegal participation on Iowa the play before Meyer's field-goal attempt went wide left. ... Nebraska had 10 yards of offense in the second quarter. ... Nebraska safety Daimion Stafford had a third-quarter interception, his fourth in the Huskers' last five games. ... Nebraska receiver Kenny Bell didn't catch a pass, ending his streak of 23 games with at least one reception.