Nebraska Preview: #17 Cornhuskers at Iowa
They didn't, and the Big Red was saddled with its worst season in eight years.
Things look a whole lot better in Husker Nation this year, as Nebraska heads to Iowa for the regular season finale with a chance to not only double last season's win total, but maybe even be in position to play for a lot more.
The Cornhuskers need a win at Kinnick Stadium Friday to get to 10 victories for the first time since 2012. Nebraska also has aspirations of winning the West Division title in the Big Ten Conference, but needs a win and Wisconsin loss at home to Minnesota Saturday to advance to the league title game, December 3, in Indianapolis.
The Huskers (9-2/6-2) have some questions at quarterback coming in.
Starter Tommy Armstrong Jr. is still slowed by a hamstring injury suffered in the Minnesota game nearly two weeks ago. He did not play last week against Maryland.
His backup, Ryker Fyfe, led the Huskers to the win over the Terrapins, but broke his non-throwing wrist in the process and had surgery Sunday. He is questionable for the Iowa game.
That means former backup QB, and current wide receiver, Zack Darlington could be pressed into action in Iowa City. The sophomore was one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in high school, but switched to wide out after last season. His last meaningful snaps for Nebraska came at last season's Spring Game where he went 7-for-11 with a touchdown.
The Hawkeyes (7-4/5-3) strength lies in its defense. Iowa is fourth in the Big Ten for fewest points allowed and is plus-seven in turnovers this season. Linebacker Josey Jewell is second in the league in tackles, lineman Jaleel Johnson is fourth in sacks.
The offense features the talented duo of Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels, running backs who each average better than five yards a carry. Iowa's passing attack is 12th out of 14 teams in the Big Ten, but quarterback CJ Bethard has done a nice job of spreading the ball around to a dozen different receivers this season.
On special teams, Desmond King and Riley McCarron are two of the top kick receivers in the Big Ten.
Kickoff is 2:30 PM, Friday, in Iowa City. You can hear the game live on ESPN 99.1, your home for Husker Football in the Sioux Empire.
The visiting team has won the last four games in this series.
Last weekend in Lincoln, the Huskers cruised to a 28-7 win over Maryland doing something we haven't seen much of this season, dominating in the first half, leading 21-0 at intermission.
Fyfe completed a Nebraska team season-high 23 passes (on 37 attempts) for 220 yards and a touchdown to become the first Husker starting QB not named Tommy Armstrong or Taylor Martinez to win a game since Cody Green against Colorado in 2010.
The Big Red ran for 181 yards, 98 of those from Terrell Newby, who scored three times.
The Blackshirt defense limited Maryland to just 11 yards on the ground and 207 yards of total offense.
I talked with the 'Voice of the Huskers', Greg Sharpe, about the Maryland win and week's match-up with Iowa: