Somehow, the Iowa Hawkeyes found a way to win against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Friday afternoon, taking home the Heroes Trophy in the process. It wasn’t pretty, but Iowa improved to 10-2 in the 2023 season.
Iowa winning doesn’t quite accurately sum up the outing as it was more like Nebraska finding a way to lose the game, again.
Iowa Wins Heroes Game, Nebraska Finds Way to Lose
Importantly, the Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers, 13-10, from Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, NE. For the bettors out there, the total didn’t eclipse, and for what feels like every game this season, the Iowa point total went the way of the under.
Iowa needed some heroics in the aptly-named Heroes Game, but they were from unlikely candidates as opposed to their standard cast of high-profile characters.
Defensive end Ethan Hurkett dropped back into coverage on Nebraska’s attempt at a two-minute drill, picking off Chubba Purdy and setting up the Hawkeyes in near field-goal position with under 30 seconds remaining.
After a Leshon Williams carry, it was Marshall Meeder who became the game’s biggest hero, not starting kicker Drew Stevens.
Lining up for his first field goal attempt as a member of the Hawkeyes, Meeder knocked home a 38-yard field goal as time expired to push the Hawkeyes to victory.
“Marshall (Meeder) gave us the best chance to win the game at that time,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said following the game.
Stevens had missed two field goal attempts early in the game, although one of those was blocked in the first quarter.
Iowa’s defense stepped up with some big-time moments in the game, none bigger than Hurkett’s interception. The Hawkeyes limited the Cornhuskers to 189 yards passing and 75 yards rushing but forced three turnovers.
As impressive as Iowa’s defensive play was, the game was Nebraska’s for the taking at multiple times. Nebraska fell to 5-7 and missed bowl eligibility in the process, losing yet another game by a single possession.
Nebraska lost their fifth game by seven points or fewer in 2023 and their fourth game in a row by a single possession. Across those five losses, Nebraska was outscored by just 19 total points.
It could have gone their way, however.
A procedural penalty limited a drive by the Cornhuskers in the fourth quarter and despite some shaky clockwork by the home clock operator, Nebraska couldn’t make anything happen across their first two, would-be game-winning drives.
Then, with a timeout in their pocket and the entire field to work with to get roughly 15 yards to get into field goal range, the ‘Huskers were forced to burn their timeout when they couldn’t get a play call in from the sidelines.
Purdy then dropped back to pass and seemingly felt that pressure, losing a dropping defensive end in the process, and tossing an interception directly to Hurkett.
Overall, there were more chances for Nebraska to win the game, but it wasn’t meant to be. Nebraska drops to 5-7 for the season with a 3-6 record in the Big Ten.
The Hawkeyes, however, moved to 10-2 overall and 7-2 in the Big Ten. Iowa will now turn their attention to the Big Ten Championship Game.
“I don’t watch much TV, but I’ll be watching that one (Ohio State vs. Michigan),” Ferentz said.