LINCOLN, Neb. – All season long the Iowa Hawkeyes were being asked questions about not being able to finish off good opponents in close games.
Friday against Nebraska their answer was to never let it get close.
The Hawkeyes took advantage of three turnovers by the Cornhuskers and breezed to a relatively easy 38-17 victory on the strength of a power running game and stifling defense.
It was vintage Iowa football where field position and ball control were the recipe for victory. Mix in a large dose of defense, some timely passing and a trick play for Nebraska that went awry, and the results were a third consecutive win and fourth road victory of the season for Iowa (8-4, 5-3). The eighth win was twice as many as the Hawkeyes managed all of last season.
Mark Weisman was his bullish self, rushing 24 times for 72 yards and two touchdowns for the Hawkeyes. Jake Rudock was efficient but effective when he needed to be, finishing 9 of 15 for 126 yards and two TDs.
But it was the defense that stuffed Nebraska time and again, including stopping a fake punt in Nebraska territory. That led to a 24-yard touchdown pass from Rudock to Kevonte Martin-Manley. Seven of Iowa’s 15 possessions began in Nebraska territory.
Iowa (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) doubled its win total from a year ago and won a fourth road game for the first time since 2009.
The Huskers (8-4, 5-3) struggled with turnovers all year and Friday was no exception. The Hawks intercepted Ron Kellogg III twice in the first quarter in handing Nebraska its third home loss of the season.
Iowa tackled punter Sam Foltz for an 8-yard loss on fourth-and-3 from his 32 in the third quarter. Rudock connected with Martin-Manley for a 24-yard TD on the next play to make it a two-touchdown game.
The Huskers tried to keep it close when Kellogg hit Quincy Enunwa for a 15-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-3. But the Hawkeyes recovered a fumble by Ameer Abdullah on Nebraska’s next series, and Weisman scored with 9:17 to play gave Iowa a 14-point lead that was too much for the Huskers to overcome.
Rudock left the game in the third quarter due to injury. Backup C.J. Beathard ran 4 yards for Iowa’s final touchdown. That helped snap a five-game losing streak in the series. The Hawkeyes added the Heroes Game trophy to their collection this season that already included trophy wins vs. Iowa State and Minnesota.