Heroes Trophy or not, the Nebraska-Iowa game Friday is a battle between two slightly above-average Big Ten teams that have provided a few highlights this season, but not an abundance of heroics.
Back in August, when both teams were still in the running for the inaugural Legends Division championship, this was a much-anticipated game. You figured somebody — most likely Nebraska — would still be playing for a place in Indianapolis.
Three months later, the anticipation level has slipped a few notches.
The game will still be a sell-out, of course. The atmosphere will be wonderful. Memorial Stadium on game day is in the same class as the Big House in Ann Arbor or the Horseshoe in Columbus. It isn’t as rowdy as Camp Randall in Madison. Wisconsin fans do not politely applaud the opposing team as they leave the field.
VIDEO: PREVIEWING THE GAME (PART I)
!-- Start of Brightcove Player -->
The home field advantage, coupled with the Huskers’ superior defense, will likely be the difference.
Comparative results are seldom a good barometer, but Huskers-Hawkeyes is about as crazy as it gets.
Nebraska lost at home to Northwestern, which came up short at Iowa, which held on to beat Michigan, which clobbered Nebraska, which clobbered Michigan State, which clobbered Iowa, which got clobbered at Penn State, which lost to Nebraska in Happy Valley.
Both teams have been up and down. Both teams have flaws that can prove to be fatal. Both teams zig when you think they’re going to zag and zag when you’re thinking zig.
PREVIEWING THE GAME (PART II)
They have a few things in common. Nebraska fans have been grumbling about Bo Pellini lately. Iowa fans have been grumbling off and on about Kirk Ferentz.
Here’s the safest prediction of the week. The grumbling will accelerate today for at least one set of Heroes Game fans.
If the Huskers can contain Marcus Coker, they’ll win. That’s even more important than containing Marvin McNutt.
Who’ll show up at quarterback? More often than not, you know what you’re getting with steady James Vandenberg. The same cannot be said of his Nebraska counterpart, Taylor Martinez.
If scattershot Taylor shows up, the Hawkeyes have a chance. If Tommie Frazier Taylor shows up, it will be a long day for the Hawkeyes.
Here’s my guess: 23-13 Nebraska.
Register sports columnist Marc Hansen can be reached at (515) 284-8534 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/marcdmr
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football