Recap: Iowa football's comeback bid against Nebraska falls short in 24-17 loss
IOWA CITY — Iowa football took on Nebraska in the regular season finale on Friday, with the Hawkeyes hoping to solidify a spot in the Big Ten championship.
But instead, the Huskers handed Iowa a 24-17 loss at home and severely damaged the Hawkeyes chance at the conference title game.
Leading up to the Black Friday matchup, Iowa had battled back from a slow start to post a 5-3 record in the conference, good enough to tie Purdue for first in the Big Ten West. The Big Ten West’s top two teams are in a very different situation than the top two teams in the Big Ten East.
Michigan and Ohio State are both 8-0. The Hawkeyes have played both programs, losing 27-14 to Michigan and 54-10 against Ohio State.
Iowa still has a shot at the Big Ten championship, but it will need a bit of help. Both Purdue and Illinois will need to lose tomorrow for the Hawkeyes to make it.
But that’s looking ahead to Saturday. Here’s what happened during Iowa’s loss to Nebraska.
FINAL: Nebraska 24, Iowa 17
The Huskers intercepted the ball on a fourth down attempt by Iowa, taking over from the 36-yard line. Nebraska runs down the clock to prevent the Hawkeyes from having another shot.
Iowa went for it on 4th and 10 but Alex Padilla's pass was incomplete. Nebraska now has possession on the 33-yard line and with a seven-point lead.
Nebraska opted to punt instead of go for it on 4th and one, which means Iowa takes over from the 22-yard line. Hawkeyes will have about three minutes to either tie or win this game.
Iowa went zero yards on four plays on that drive, but the Hawkeyes were able to put points up. Drew Stevens hit a 45-yard field goal to move Iowa one touchdown away from a tie game.
Shortly after that touchdown moved Iowa within 10 points of Nebraska's lead, the Huskers fumbled the ball and Iowa recovered. Klemp got the ball on the 27-yard line, which is where Iowa will start with just over six minutes remaining.
Alex Padilla completed a 14-yard pass to Luke Lachey, who stretched out for another Iowa touchdown. Extra point is good and Iowa moves within 10 points of Nebraska’s lead. The Hawkeyes went 90 yards on nine plays and took 2:45 off the clock.
Nebraska took 6:16 off the clock on its last drive but ended up punting. Iowa will start its first drive of the final quarter from the 10-yard line after Brian Buschini’s punt goes 41 yards.
Iowa picked up some momentum after Kaleb Johnson’s touchdown, but it wasn’t enough to add more points to the scoreboard. Tory Taylor’s 31-yard punt pinned Nebraska at the 14-yard line. The Huskers still have the ball to start the fourth quarter. Nebraska starts on 3rd and three from the 21-yard line.
Kaleb Johnson scored Iowa’s first touchdown of the game with a 44-yard rush on 2nd and five. The point after attempt by Drew Stevens was good, and the Hawkeyes trail 24-7 in the third. Iowa will need a few more scores to beat Nebraska, but any points on the board are welcome after Nebraska blanked the Hawkeyes in the first half.
Nebraska is now up 24-0 over Iowa after turning the fumbled punt into a touchdown. Casey Thompson completed a 14-yard pass to Marcus Washington on third down for the Cornhuskers' third touchdown of the day.
It looked like the Hawkeyes had returned to true form on defense, forcing Nebraska to punt on the first drive of the second half. But then things went sideways on the punt. Arland Bruce IV muffed the punt return and the Cornhuskers recovers on Iowa’s 18-yard line.
The Cornhuskers took the ball to the 43-yard line but it was too little too late on the final drive of the first half. Nebraska will have the ball to start the second half.
Padilla took another sack, losing 13 yards after the Hawkeyes got to the 42-yard line. Tory Taylor sent a 45-yard punt to the 10-yard line, where Nebraska takes over.
The Cornhuskers scored no more than 14 points in any of their last four games. But against Iowa, Nebraska already has 17 in the first half. Casey Thompson and Trey Palmer combined for their second touchdown of the day, and Nebraska is up 17-0.
Hawkeyes take over from their own 33-yard line.
Padilla was sacked for a loss of 18 yards on 3rd and 9. Eteva Mauga-Clements forced the fumble and Garrett Nelson recovered, returning it to the 39-yard line before he was taken down by Arland Bruce IV.
The Cornhuskers jumped out to a two-possession lead in the first quarter. Iowa hasn't had many opportunities in scoring position, but the Hawkeyes will start the second quarter with the ball on Nebraska's 41-yard line.
Petras seemed a bit shaken up after that sack, and sure enough, Padilla is in at quarterback now. This is the second time this season he's seen game action. Padilla appeared in the second half of the Ohio State game, so this is the first time he's come in before the third quarter.
Nebraska settles for a field goal after the fumble recovery. The Cornhuskers took the ball all the way within the five-yard line but couldn't get past Iowa's defense. Bleekrode hit the field goal attempt — after missing his first try — and Nebraska extends its lead to 10-0.
Nebraska is back in scoring position after a fumbled recovery placed the Cornhuskers at the 31-yard line. Petras was sacked for a loss of eight yards and Quinton Newsome forced the fumble. First play of the drive is an incomplete pass.
Nebraska scored on the first play of its second drive. Casey Thompson found Trey Blamer wide open for an 87-yard pass play. Extra point was good and the Cornhuskers take an early 7-0 lead over Iowa.
The Cornhuskers were close to scoring on two plays, but couldn't convert either into points on the board. Timmy Bleekrode's 32-yard field goal attempt was no good. Iowa takes over from the 20-yard line.
DeJean has been one of the most consistent players for the Hawkeyes this season, and him staying down after a hit isn't a good sign. The starting defensive back walked off the field on his own but went straight to the medical tent.
Nebraska won the toss and elected to receiver first in the second half. The Hawkeyes got the ball first but weren't about to do anything with it. Iowa didn't get past the 15-yard line and took less than a minute off the clock. The Cornhuskers take over from the 40-yard line.
Sam LaPorta and Monte Pottebaum expected out against Nebraska
Here is was coach Kirk Ferentz said about those players' injury status on Tuesday:
“"Don't expect Sam or Monte (to be available Friday). I just don't think that's realistic. So that's kind of where that's at. … It could’ve gone either way. You just never know what to think coming off the field that night. But they both got tested (Monday), and things look about as good as they can. So, we'll just take it a day at a time. The door is open, but not this week.”
Jack Campbell names Butkus Award finalist
Campbell has consistently been one of Iowa’s best players and he is among the best linebackers in Hawkeyes’ history…especially after this past week.
He was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. The next day, Campbell was named as one of the finalists for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s top linebacker. He joins Larry Station (second place in 1985) and Josey Jewell (2016) as the only finalists in Iowa’s history.
Other finalists include Jamon Dumas-Johnson (Georgia), Daiyan Henly (Washington State), Ivan Pace Jr. (Cincinnati) and Drew Sanders (Arkansas).
Questions ahead of Friday’s Iowa-Nebraska matchup
This Black Friday game isn’t new to Hawkeyes players and fans alike, but there are some things to consider with Iowa’s regular-season finale.
For starters, Minnesota managed over 300 rushing yards against the Hawkeyes last weekend. Iowa’s defense – typically its top unit – had only allowed a combined 222 rushing yards in its previous four games.
On top of that, Nebraska has little to lose on Friday. The Cornhuskers sit near the bottom of the Big Ten with a 2-6 conference record and a 3-8 overall record. How does Iowa prepare for a team that lacks a predictable identity on offense?
Alyssa Hertel is the college sports recruiting reporter for the Des Moines Register. Contact Alyssa at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.