NEBRASKA- When you think of college football the Nebraska Cornhuskers have to be one of the top programs to come to head. The program has won five national titles, 46 conference championships, 10 division titles, and have had three heisman trophy winners. Nebraska football ranks third all time in bowl game appearances with 51 only behind Alabama and Texas, and fifth in total wins. Yet in what’s been a rough season for the storied program there bowl hopes rely on beating an unbeaten rival in the Iowa Hawkeyes to clinch a bowl game berth. If the Huskers fall at home to Iowa on November 27th (a rivalry week game) it will be the first without bowl game play for the program since 2004, and only the second since 1969. Though it is possible with a loss the Huskers can make a bowl game if not enough FBS team’s reach the 6-6 mark to clinch an automatic bowl bid the Huskers must defeat Iowa to assure themselves bowl game play. Despite the fact it has been a lost season for Nebraska there’s a lot a reason for optimism for the Huskers.
The Huskers have been one of the most unluckiest team’s in the nation under first year head coach Mike Riley. There season kicked off losing on a hail marry to BYU as time expired, they lost a heart breaker in overtime to rival Miami after erasing 23 point comeback to force overtime, then suffered a one point loss in the final seconds the following week against Illinois, and two point losses at home to once ranked Wisconsin, and #17 Northwestern. If the Huskers were to seal victories in all of these close contents they could be looking at an 9-1 record and this Iowa match up could be for a Big 10 West Division Championship. After an embarrassing loss to a dreadful Purdue team in West Lafayette the Huskers shocked the world by knocking than #7 Michigan State from the ranks of unbeaten ending the Spartans playoff hopes, and giving Nebraska a win to remember forever. The Huskers went on to crush Rutgers the following week on the road and now entering the bye week at 5-6 they have a chance to prepare to try to take down an unbeaten. There yearly rivalry week opponents the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Currently ranked #4 Iowa will come into Lincoln looking to avenge last year’s overtime loss to the Huskers in Iowa City, and try to not only clinch and unbeaten regular season, but prove to the college football playoff committee that they should be put in the four team playoff and have a chance at the national championship crown. With all that is at stake for Iowa there’s nothing more the Huskers would rather do than ruin Iowa’s playoff hopes.
Already knocking off one undefeated team in front of the 90,000+ Memorial Stadium sea of red the Huskers aren’t going to be intimidated. The Nebraska offense despite injury to Wide Receiver/Kick Returner De’mornay Pierson-El is full of play makers. Including Quarterback Tommy Armstrong a very mobile quarterback who’s run for six touchdowns this season with big time weapons at Wide Receiver including Jordan Westerkamp who has found the end zone seven times this season and ranks 28th in the nation in receiving yards, and Wide Receiver Brandon Riley who hauled in 666 yards and four TD’s including the game winner to knock off Michigan State. Iowa’s pass defense ranks 49th in the nation which may allow Nebraska to travel smoothly through the air. Iowa’s rush defense ranks 9th in the nation which should lead to the ball flying out of Tommy Armstrong’s arm often. Nebraska defense has stopped the run 18th best in the country which should help shut down Iowa’s 28th ranked run offense it’s stopping the air game that will be the key to victory for the Huskers.
Nebraska’s pass defense ranks second worst in the entire nation. Iowa’s pass offense isn’t the greatest either ranking at 82 but throughout the year the Huskers have allowed just about every quarterback they have faced throw all over the field. If Big Red can contain Iowa’s 49th ranked offense the Huskers should be able to put up enough points to win the contest as there offense has been on a tear the last three games scoring a combined 115 points. Yet if the Huskers defense falters and is unable to make key stops forcing Iowa to punt and Nebraska’s offense has to counter Iowa scoring drives throughout the game there may not be a bowl game for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 2015-16.