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Iowa (7-4) at Nebraska (8-3)
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 29, 12 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (87,000) -- Lincoln, Nebraska. Television: ABC. Home Record: Iowa 4-3, NU 5-2. Away Record: Iowa 3-1, NU 3-1. Neutral Record: Iowa 0-0, NU 0-0. Conference Record: Iowa 4-3, NU 5-2. Series: NU leads, 28-12-3.
GAME NOTES: Two teams both coming off come-from-behind victories are set to square off in their respective regular-season finales in Lincoln, as the Nebraska Cornhuskers host the Iowa Hawkeyes at Memorial Stadium.
Iowa rallied from a 21-7 deficit to claim a 24-21 win over Michigan last week. The Hawkeyes have won three of their last four games to lock up a bowl bid for the 12th time in the last 13 seasons. Their four losses this year have come against teams that are all inside the top-15 of this week's BCS standings, and Iowa's only road loss came against third-ranked Ohio State by a 10-point margin last month.
Meanwhile, Nebraska battled back from a 20-17 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Penn State in overtime last week, 23-20. It was the third time in the month of November the Cornhuskers erased a fourth-quarter deficit and marked their eighth straight win in a game decided by seven points or less. Another win here would secure Nebraska's sixth consecutive nine-win campaign under sixth- year coach Bo Pelini.
Nebraska holds a 28-12-3 lead in the all-time series, and the Huskers will try to improve to 3-0 in the Hy-Vee Heroes Game -- the annual trophy game between these two schools that started when NU joined the Big Ten in 2011. The Black Friday game is scheduled to resume through at least 2019.
Iowa was able to overcome a slow start and four turnovers to beat Michigan last weekend. Three of those turnovers came from the arm of quarterback Jake Rudock, who finished with 239 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go along with the three picks. Most importantly, Rudock helped engineer three unanswered scoring drives in the second half to complete the comeback win. Running backs Mark Weisman and Jordan Canzeri controlled the tempo, as the duo combined for 138 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries (4.8 ypc). Ball control has been the recipe for success throughout the season, as Iowa ranks 28th nationally in time of possession.
Iowa's defense has been the primary reason behind the team's turnaround from last year's four-win season. The unit came up big once again last week, pitching a second-half shutout, while the offense climbed its way back into the game. The Hawkeyes rank 10th nationally in total defense (304.5 ypg allowed) and 13th in scoring defense (18.9 ppg). Through 11 games, Iowa has allowed a mere 20 first-quarter points, seven of which came against the Wolverines last week. The Iowa defense has allowed only four rushing touchdowns all year, tied for the lowest total in the nation. The Hawkeyes have held all but one opponent below its rushing average this season, and their 11 red-zone touchdowns allowed is the fourth-lowest total in the nation.
Even with dual-threat quarterback Taylor Martinez out for the season with hip and foot injuries, Nebraska's vaunted ground game is alive and well. The team enters the weekend ranked 19th nationally in rushing offense, with an average of 233.7 rushing yards per tilt. Ameer Abdullah has headlined that effort with 134.8 ypg on the ground, the sixth-best mark in the country, while short- yardage specialist Imani Cross has scored 10 times on only 81 carries. Abdullah had another big day against Penn State, as he reeled off 147 yards on 25 carries. However, it took a pair of field goals by Pat Smith to seal the outcome; the first a 19-yarder with 4:29 remaining in regulation to tie it, and the second from 42 yards out in overtime to win it.
Nebraska's defense has been largely hit or miss and enters this game allowing 24.2 points and 374.7 yards per contest. David Santos leads the team with 77 tackles, followed by Corey Cooper with 74. Randy Gregory has racked up a team- best 8.5 sacks, while Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste have both notched four interceptions. Santos led the way with nine tackles and a sack against Penn State, and Evans came up with a third-quarter pick for the team's only takeaway. The defense managed to force three consecutive punts in the fourth quarter to swing the tide in its favor.
Iowa has enjoyed quite a turnaround season, thanks mostly to its defense. But if the Hawkeyes hope to pull off the win inside Memorial Stadium, they will need to find a way to contain Abdullah.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nebraska 27, Iowa 24
11/27 11:09:40 ET
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