5 questions with Hawkeyes reporter Rick Brown

Rick Brown

Iowa Hawkeyes offensive linesman Brandon Scherff (68) breaks off of the line of scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Hawkeyes won 24-20.

1. Pat Angerer will be Iowa's honorary captain Friday. Will he fire up the Hawkeyes?

A: Angerer is a gem, a guy who isn't too concerned about politician correctness. In other words, he speaks his mind. Just removed from the NFL, Angerer will do his best to inspire Iowa's players. I'd love to hear his talk to the team.

2. Who should Iowa be most worried about, Ameer Abdullah or Tommy Armstrong, Jr.?

Iowa's linebacking trio of James Morris, Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey kept Abdullah in check during a 38-17 victory in Lincoln last season. He gained 85 yards in 25 carries. Abdullah is averaging nearly 130 yards a game this season, but he's not 100 percent. One of the reasons for Abdullah's success is Armstrong, a sophomore quarterback who was injured and didn't play against the Hawkeyes last season. Armstrong's legs are more dangerous than his arm. The sophomore has run for 633 yards this season (5.2 yards per carry). He's passed for 2,112 yards, with 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

3. Will Brandon Scherff win the Outland Trophy?

I like his chances. And it would be a fitting end to his college career, traveling 75 miles from his hometown of Denison to collect the hardware at the official presentation Jan. 15 in Omaha. Scherff is a humble guy off the football field, but a crusher on it. His highlights tape is something to watch. He would become Iowa's fourth Outland winner, joining Robert Gallery, Calvin Jones and Alex Karras. No offense to the other finalists, center Reese Dismukes of Auburn and defensive tackle Malcom Brown of Texas, but Scherff is the guy.

4. Will Nebraska coach Bo Pelini get fired if Iowa beats the Cornhuskers?

I'm not close enough to that situation to give a credible forecast. But this game feels like 2013. Pelini was under fire, lost to the Hawkeyes in Lincoln and gave his famous "If you want to fire me, fire me" postgame remarks. Standards are high at Nebraska. So is the pressure.

5. Speaking of eight wins, will this Iowa season still be considered underachieving with a victory over Nebraska?

I don't think the complete story of this season can be written until the bowl game is over. There is always going to be a what-if cloud over it, though. The best performance could well have come in a loss, to Wisconsin.

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It's the year of the running back in the Big Ten. In fact, there could be several backs who finish in the top 10 nationally in rushing but don't earn first-team all-Big Ten honors. Heading into the final week of the regular season, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon leads the nation with 191.7 rushing yards a game. Tevin Coleman of Indiana is second (173.3), David Cobb of Minnesota eighth (130.0) and Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska 10th (128.8) … Possibly the most forgotten man in the Big Ten is Michigan State's Jeremy Langford. He has rushed for at least 100 yards in 15 consecutive Big Ten games and is 21st nationally at 112.9 yards a game … Both Gordon and Coleman reached the 200-yard rushing mark against Iowa. In all, a Big Ten back has done it 15 times this season. That's the most since 2000, when it also happened 15 times. Gordon has done it five times, Coleman and Abdullah four each and Cobb twice.


Minnesota (8-3 overall, 5-2 Big Ten) at Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1) — The annual arm wrestling for the Paul Bunyan Axe carries added significance. The winner also becomes the West Division's representative in the Big Ten title game against Ohio State Dec. 6 in Indianapolis. If the Gophers are the most pleasant surprise in the Big Ten this season, Wisconsin is a close second after rebuilding its defense from a year ago. Elite backs Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin and David Cobb of Minnesota will get a ton of attention in this 2:30 kickoff (BTN). Cobb's gimpy ankle could be an issue.