Game Day Guide meets Line Items: Nebraska versus Iowa
This is the last regular season game day guide of the year and it has merged with line items for a Black Friday extravaganza.
Hello and happy game day, Nebraska fans. This is the last regular season game day guide of the year and it has merged with line items for a Black Friday extravaganza.
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Let’s get to it.
Chubba Purdy will get the start for Nebraska at quarterback, so that’s that. Coach Matt Rhule made the announcement on Wednesday, which means Iowa now knows who it’s up against on Friday (although the Hawkeyes probably had a pretty good idea it would be Purdy).
While not perfect, Purdy shows a lot of dimensions that could make things interesting for Iowa. Against Wisconsin, Purdy threw for 169 yards and rushed for another 105. He completed 65.2% of his passes with one touchdown and one interception. Can the Iowa offense limit him? That’s a key question in this matchup.
“In Big Ten games they are giving up 12.8 points per game,” Rhule said. “They are giving up three yards of rush. They don’t give up big plays. It’s all together. The thing about Iowa and what people try and talk about is that they want to talk about the defense and special teams but ‘Oh, if the offense,’ that’s not how it works.
“They know who they are. They have a formula. It’s integrated football.”
As for Nebraska’s defense, it’ll be up against Iowa’s rushing attack. The good news for the Huskers is that they’re only allowing 2.83 yards per carry in 2023, ranking them fourth in the country. The key will be specifically limiting the big plays (as it seems to be every week). The Hawkeyes have had key big moments this season — whether that’s an 82-yard touchdown from Leshon Williams against Wisconsin or a 30-yard touchdown run by Kaleb Johnson against Illinois — and those can be make or break for this Nebraska team right now.
The Huskers have only given up 25 rushing plays of 10 or more yards at this point, but they really can’t afford to have too many on Friday. Limit those and things start looking more and more promising. Unfortunately, Nebraska will be without linebacker Nick Henrich for the matchup after he suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
At the end of the day, Nebraska is 5-6. Nebraska wants to be 6-6 by the final whistle on Friday for a number of reasons, but bowl eligibility is certainly paramount. Those extra practices in December can go a long way for any team and the Huskers are capable of winning this one.
Yet, that’s been the case in so many of the matchups prior. Can Nebraska’s luck change on Black Friday?
“At the end of the day, you can only control what you can control,” Rhule said. “Just like when we were on a three-game win streak, I didn’t consider us on a three-game win streak. We were trying to go 1-0 that week.
“To me it is all about us versus Iowa.”
And as a reminder, we’ll have our weekly game day chat for paid subscribers live as the Huskers start warming up and information becomes available. Keep an eye out for that as well.
Nebraska versus Iowa: Everything you need to know for game day
TV Channel: CBS (Tom McCarthy, Ross Tucker, Tiffany Blackmon)
Date: Friday, November 24
Time: 11 a.m. CT
Radio: Nebraska fans can listen to the game on the Huskers Radio Network. Internet radio, as well as a Spanish broadcast, will be available at Huskers.com.
Location: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska
Weather: Cloudy with a high of 32 degrees. Winds NE at 10 to 15 mph.
Line: Nebraska -2.5
Head coach Matt Rhule on the Huskers’ defensive line:
“I’m always one of those guys that when I come into a job I kind of examine things for a year and just try to figure it out. Obviously the league is changing next year so we will have to see what next year’s Big Ten looks like. The game is won upfront with the big guys in this league. To have those guys come back next year is great. I think our offensive and defensive line play has really improved over the course of the year. I think we have really good talented young players too. I think the leadership that Ty (Robinson) brings is awesome. We have a really good solid foundation with those groups.”
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz on facing Nebraska after clinching the Big Ten West title:
"With all due respect, I don't think people understand how tough it is to win games at any level. Sometimes, we get a little spoiled when we think it's going to be easy, or '(We've done) this before, so we'll do it again.' It just doesn't work that way. It's really competitive, and Nebraska is a great illustration. They haven't been to a bowl game in a long time, I guess. I don't know how long it's been. But they're playing like a bowl team right now. They're playing really well.
"I just think sometimes, we all lose sight of how tough it is and how many things have to go right for you to win. I can't think of too many times, at least hopefully, where I assume things are going to happen. It's usually pretty tough. So if we could get a 10th (win), that'd be really special. But it's not going to be easy.”
Line Items: Week 12
If you’ve been following Line Items during its regularly scheduled Friday stop, you’re already aware of the bad news–I am not going to hit my personal goal of a .540 against the spread winning percentage on the regular season. Last week’s 3-4 sealed my fate. Best I can hope for now is a .531 by going 7-0 this week, so now that’s what we’re going to do.
Iowa at Nebraska -2.5 (Prediction Tracker Average: Iowa -5)
If the total on this game holds, it was 26.5 late Wednesday, it’ll be the lowest in college football history. So, it’ll be that sort of game, the sort of game where a fumble or a punt return or a penalty makes the difference. I’ve seen Iowa win too many of those (this season alone, but most seasons, really). Pick: Iowa +2.5
Penn State -21 vs. Michigan State (PTA: PSU -24)
I can’t picture a scenario where Michigan State is up for this game in Detroit after the season the Spartans have had. Penn State wins to go 10-2 again and head into a postseason where the only thing anyone’s talking about is the 2. Pick: PSU -21
Ohio State at Michigan -3 (PTA: Michigan -4)
I don’t think Ohio State will get run over like it has the past two seasons, and in that case give me the team with the best player on the field–Marvin Harrison Jr. Pick: OSU +3
Indiana at Purdue -3.5 (PTA: Purdue -6)
The Boilermakers, under a first-year head coach, have the freedom of a future. Tom Allen may not at Indiana after Saturday if the Hoosiers get hammered on Saturday. Pick: Purdue -3.5
Northwestern at Illinois -5.5 (PTA: Illinois -2.5)
The Illini need a win to become bowl eligible, and I think they’ll get it. Just not by six points or more. Pick: Northwestern +5.5
Wisconsin -2.5 at Minnesota (PTA: Wisconsin -1.5)
The Gophers also need a win to make a bowl game and are looking at the toughest offseason of P.J. Fleck’s Minnesota tenure if they don’t. But I’m guessing Minnesota finds a way to keep the axe in the boat against a Wisconsin team that’s wavered late in the season. Pick: Minnesota +2.5
Maryland -1 at Rutgers (PTA: Maryland -0.5)
The worry here is that Maryland spent all of its remaining sweat equity on nearly beating Michigan last week. A seventh win would be the most at Rutgers since 2014 (8-5), its first year in the Big Ten. Pick: Rutgers +1
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