Halftime update: Iowa 14, Nebraska 14
LINCOLN, Neb. — It's been an evenly matched, imperfect, entertaining Black Friday clash between Iowa and Nebraska at Memorial Stadium, with the teams tied 14-14 at halftime.
Here's what we learned:
SPECIAL TEAMS STILL AN ADVENTURE: Has any team seen its fortunes swing more wildly on special teams than Iowa? In the first half alone, there was a fumbled snap by punter Colten Rastetter that set up Nebraska's touchdown; a huge mistake by kickoff returner Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who fielded the ball and promptly stepped out of bounds at his own 1-yard line; defensive tackle Nathan Bazata foiled a Cornhuskers' fake field-goal attempt; and the Hawkeyes took advantage after Nebraska was called for running into Rastetter late in the half to drive for the tying touchdown.
WADLEY CAN STILL BREAK ANKLES: Senior running back Akrum Wadley helped dig the Hawkeyes out of the hole that Smith-Marsette put them in with a 19-yard run. He finished the 99-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown scamper on which he left a few Cornhuskers grasping at air and one lying on the ground. It was Wadley's 32nd career touchdown. He has 86 yards on 11 carries, needing 52 more to reach 1,000 for a second consecutive season.
SECONDARY KEEPS GETTING YOUNGER: Iowa entered the game with true freshman Matt Hankins getting his first career start at cornerback. In the second quarter, true freshman Geno Stone was forced into action at safety after senior Miles Taylor went down with an apparent leg injury. The Hawkeyes were already playing without injured safeties Brandon Snyder and Amani Hooker. Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee was aggressive in trying to victimize the Hawkeye inexperience, with mixed results. He finished the half 9 of 15 for 131 yards and two touchdowns to Stanley Morgan.
STICKING WITH SMITH-MARSETTE: Iowa's coaches continue to have faith in Smith-Marsette, a freshman wide receiver who has made mistakes this year but also had 197 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns entering play. After his kick-return gaffe, Iowa went to him three times on screen passes and Smith-Marsette turned them into 26 yards on the touchdown drive. He later alertly scooped up a Wadley fumble and carried it five more yards to preserve Iowa's second touchdown drive. Smith-Marsette is enigmatic, but talented.