There won’t be any championships or appearances in the Big Ten championship game at stake, but there still will be plenty for which to shop for both No. 19 Iowa and Nebraska when they meet on Black Friday in Lincoln, Neb.
For Iowa (8-3, 5-3), it will be a chance to solidify positioning for a New Year’s Day bowl game somewhere warm and a chance to get to the nine-win mark for the second straight year and just the third time since 2009.
The Hawkeyes enter having won four of their last five games and has been stout defensively this year, having only given up 20 or more points in two games this season.
Iowa earned a 31-28 win over the Cornhuskers last year in Iowa City.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s a tough environment to play in. We had a three-point game last year that went down to the wire, so I expect the same kind of challenge this week.”
Nebraska (5-6, 3-5) also has a lot at stake.
The Cornhuskers are hoping to end what has been an otherwise disappointing season on a high note and gain bowl-eligibility.
Nebraska snapped a four-game losing streak with a 54-7 rout at Maryland, in the process overcoming a virus that spread through the locker room and forced several players to sit out.
“I was just really happy for the team and the enthusiasm they had and the way they played for each other and played together,” Nebraska head coach Scott Frost said. “I think that was the difference.”
This will be the third ranked team Nebraska has played this year, and the previous two haven’t gone well at all for the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska lost 48-7 to Ohio State (Sept. 28) and 37-21 at home to Wisconsin (Nov. 16) in the other meetings this year against ranked foes.
But Frost said that he feels his team is due for some breaks this year, and hopes the good vibes after dominating the Terrapins will carry over to the home finale for his team.
“We’re playing a really good team on Friday,” Frost said. “I’ve had a chance to watch Iowa and they are one of the best teams in the league. We are going to do everything we can to try and get ready for a really good team. A win (Saturday) gives us a chance. It gives me more enthusiasm for things to come. This team could have shut it down, shut it off, stopped caring and stopped playing hard. They’re not doing that.”
The game will offer a different challenge for each team because it will mean shorter preparation time playing six days later instead of seven.
“It’s a little tricky because it is shorter and we are at the end of the season, so we;ll have to be really careful about what we ask our players to do,” Ferentz said. “The bottom line is you turn the page.”
–Field Level Media