By Tommy Rezac
It started differently than the last couple have.
Nebraska took advantage of an opponent’s special teams miscue to go up 7-0 early in the first quarter.
Unfortunately for the Huskers (4-8, 3-6 Big Ten), special teams mistakes plagued both sides. Leading 14-7 midway through the second, Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley threw incomplete on a 3rd and 4, and Colten Rastetter came on to punt for what would have been the third time.
It was 4th and 4. RFr. Tony Butler bumped Rastetter. Running into the kicker was called. Automatic first down for the Hawkeyes, who then scored eight plays later.
Iowa (7-5, 4-6 Big Ten) tied the game at 14 with 25 seconds left until halftime, and went on to score 42 unanswered points en route to a 56-14 shellacking of Nebraska in front of an embarrassed home crowd of 90,046.
After Butler’s penalty, Iowa outscored Nebraska 49-0 and outgaines them in total yards 384-101.
Before the penalty, Nebraska was ahead 14-7 and was outgaining Iowa in total yardage 166-121.
In a game that was tied 14-14 at halftime, Iowa’s Fr. kickoff returner Ihmir Smith-Marsette took the opening kickoff of the third quarter 64 yards to Nebraska 22 yard-line. The Hawkeyes scored four plays later to take the lead and stay there for good.
Fans and media have looked at the “opponent record” and “last time this happened” pages in the record book quite often in 2017.
Here’s what was found on Friday:
- Worst winning percentage since 1961 (3-6-1).
- First time the season ended on a four-game losing streak since 1957.
- First time in program history that Nebraska surrendered 50+ points in three consecutive games.
- First time in program history that Nebraska surrendered 50+ points in four games of the same season.
- Nebraska’s biggest loss to Iowa in 48 meetings.
There’s probably a few more. Those are the ones that stick out.
The 2017 season has been much like an onion for Nebraska fans. The more layers that are peeled back, the more watery-eyed they get. There’s a searing feeling that comes with peeling that onion. A lingering discomfort, but you have to keep at it until it’s finished.
The Huskers finished, and the fans can start drying their eyes, and looking to the future for hope in the form of Scott Frost.
“I think that you look at the end of the season and a disappointing loss like that, lost game, lost opportunity in that game,” Nebraska head coach Mike Riley said. “It’s disappointing.”
As for the future of the program, Riley still seems to believe he’ll be a part of it.
“I’m going to anticipate that, and when I go to bed tonight I’m going to hope for that, because I would love to do this,” Riley said. “I truly believe I’m exactly the right person to do this. The football parts, I’ve been doing this so long we know how to fix, and we are also doing a good job recruiting. Those two things are going to be the key to Nebraska getting back to where everybody wants to go.”
Riley said he and athletic director Bill Moos talked either on Monday or Tuesday of this past week, but none of the conversations indicated anything about his future with the program.
“I don’t have any indication about that,” Riley said. “Bill has been awesome to talk to, we’ve known each other for years. There is all those parts of the conversation that are private, but I appreciate the opportunity to talk. It’s been done first class, and it will always be with him.”
It’ll likely be done first class when Moos walks up to a podium sometime this weekend to announce the dismissal of his football coach.
Fans won’t have to peel back the onion any longer. Rather, Moos can give them reason to turn over a new leaf.
>> Jr. WR Stanley Morgan didn’t reach the magic 1,000, but he did break NU’s all-time single season receiving yards record at 986. The previous record was 942 held by Johnny Rodgers in 1972.
“For him to play so well and stay healthy all year and be so effective and dominant, it’s just a testament to the way he comes to work,” Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee said. “He’s such a key part of our team in a million different ways. It’s really no surprise. He definitely 100 percent earned that record.”
>> Sr. TE Tyler Hoppes broke NU’s single season record for catches by a tight end. Hoppes ended 2017 with 34 catches, breaking Mike McNeil’s 2008 record of 32.
“That’s a pretty nice honor,” Hoppes said. “I would trade any of those records to have a winning team.”
>> Lee finished his season with 3,143 passing yards, marking just the fourth 3,000-yard season in program history. He’ll take the offseason to decide on his future.
“I’m not sure what next is, I’m sure we’ll have a team meeting here pretty soon and we’ll be told from there. Just hang out with my teammates for now and enjoy their company.”
Lee finished Friday 22-of-41 for 205 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He finished 2017 with 23 touchdowns and 16 INTs.
>> Nebraska’s opponents out gained them in rushing yards this season by an average of 214.8-107.5.
— Tommy Rezac (@Tommy_KLIN) November 25, 2017
Post game audio from coaches and players
Post game reaction
You can contact Tommy at 402-840-5226 or you can follow him on Twitter @Tommy_KLIN.