Whether the Nebraska-Iowa game is a rivalry or not, one thing is certain: it has been awfully one-sided the last several years.
The Huskers (1-4) fell to Iowa (4-2) for the sixth consecutive Black Friday with a 26-20 loss. Scott Frost has lost three straight to the Hawkeyes by a combined 12 points.
Adrian Martinez got the start at quarterback after falling to the backup role against Penn State and Illinois. After back to back punts and trailing 10-0, Frost changed to Luke Martinez who immediately led Nebraska downfield for a field goal.
That position became a constant change the rest of the game, with Martinez and McCaffrey getting different possessions as Nebraska scored on four consecutive drives stretching from the end of the first quarter to the first drive of the third quarter to give the Huskers a 20-13 lead.
But Iowa answered with a 6:18 drive to tie the game.Then a Nebraska punt after a three-and-out was returned to midfield setting up another Hawkeye field goal after four minutes of offense.
Then, as has been the case for multiple years now, a game changing play doomed the Huskers.
Iowa started inside their own 30 for the first time after a Will Przystup punt was downed at the 13. The Blackshirts forced a three-and-out and an Iowa punt. But the punt was muffed by Cam Taylor-Britt and recovered by the Hawkeyes, setting up Iowa deep in NU territory. Another field goal made the score 26-20.
A Nebraska punt and an Iowa missed 50 yard field goal set up the Huskers at the Iowa 32 with 2:02 remaining. A pass to Austin Allen then a Martinez run picked up a first down, then an 18 yard strike to Wan’Dale Robinson pushed Nebraska into Hawkeye territory. But a missed block by Matt Farniok allowed Iowa defensive end Chauncy Golston to get to Martinez, knocking the ball free for Iowa to recover and end the game.
Costly mistakes at inopportune times. A missed block, a muffed punt, and penalties killing drives once again hurt the Huskers in a close loss.
“We gotta button things up and do the little things right all the time so that the two or three plays that cost us that game don’t happen,” Frost said after the loss. “You can’t do those things against good teams. The good teams in this league are buttoned up.
“We’re just doing the little stuff that gets ourselves beat.”
Despite the issues, both Nebraska quarterbacks were efficient during this one. Martinez went 18-for-20 through the air for 174 yards, adding 48 yards on 12 rushes with one touchdown. McCaffrey only attempted five passes, completing three for 21 yards, while rushing five times for 42 yards.
Robinson got 15 touches on the day, rushing six times for 42 yards and catching nine passes for 75 yards. A total of nine Huskers caught passes in the game.
Rahmir Johnson only rushed the ball five times for 27 yards, but he did manage a 12 yard burst for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Nebraska outgained Iowa 338-322, leading in both passing and rushing for the game.
Luke Reimer limped off the field on the first drive, but toughed out a game-high 12 tackle efford. His partner at inside linebacker added eight tackles. Dicaprio Bootle had his first career interception in the second quarter which set up a field goal.
Nebraska stays on the road to start December, heading to Purdue (2-2). The kickoff time for that game has not yet been announced.
The six-point loss marked the sixth straight win for Iowa in the series. Nebraska now leads the all-time series 29-19-3, including a 10-9 edge in Iowa City. The last three Husker losses in the series have been decided by a total of 12 points.
- Quarterback Adrian Martinez completed 18-of-20 passes for 174 yards, pushing his career passing total to 5,020 yards. He is the sixth Husker player to pass for 5,000 yards in a career and is one of three Nebraska players with 5,000 career passing yards and 1,000 career rushing yards.
- Martinez’s 90.0 percent completion rate broke his own single-game completion percentage record, for games with a minimum of 20 attempts. Martinez completed 25-of-29 passes (86.2 percent) against Minnesota in 2018.
- Sophomore receiver/running back Wan’Dale Robinson accounted for 117 yards from scrimmage including 42 rushing yards on six carries, and nine receptions for 75 yards. It marked the second straight game Robinson has totaled more than 100 yards, with 120 last week against Illinois.
- Robinson’s nine receptions were a career-high, surpassing his eight catches at Illinois last season.
- Redshirt freshman running back Rahmir Johnson had a 12-yard touchdown in the third quarter for his first rushing touchdown of the season and the second of his career. Johnson had five carries for 23 yards in the game.
- Tight end Austin Allen had two receptions for 28 yards. It marked his fifth straight game with at least 25 receiving yards. He is the first tight end to have five straight games with 25 or more receiving yards since Kyler Reed had six straight games with 25 yards or more in 2010.
- The Nebraska defense limited Iowa to 129 rushing yards on 45 carries, an average of 2.9 yards per attempt. Iowa rushed for just 35 yards on 17 carries in the first half. Iowa had averaged 244.2 yards rushing in the past five games against Nebraska, including 6.2 yards per carry.
- Senior cornerback Dicaprio Bootle had a second-quarter interception, marking his first career interception.
- Redshirt freshman linebacker Luke Reimer finished with a career-high 12 tackles, including 11 solo stops. That surpassed his previous career high of 10 tackles at Northwestern on Nov. 7.
- Sophomore defensive lineman Casey Rogers recorded his first career sack on a nine-yard sack to end the first half. Rogers tied his career high with five tackles.
- Place-kicker Connor Culp made field goals of 31 and 39 yards in the second quarter. It improved Culp to 9-of-10 on the season including six consecutive field goals made.
- Players making their first Nebraska starts in today’s game included receivers Zavier Betts and Oliver Martin and tight end Travis Vokolek.
Feature Image Courtesy Nebraska Athletics Communications Office