Asking Kirk Ferentz to lead his team into Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska on the day after Thanksgiving and stride off of Tom Osborne Field with a Heroes Trophy hoisted high above Iowa Hawkeye players’ heads would seem quite daunting to most. For the Hawkeyes the task is more reasonable than others may realize. The conceivable fact is that the Hawkeyes have all of the tools in place to defeat the Nebraska Cornhuskers and potentially end Coach Bo Pelini’s career at Nebraska. The Hawkeyes must focus on a few significant concepts of the matchup to reign supreme on Friday.
The Hawkeyes must take the Husker crowd out of the game. The Huskers will start off the home game with a lot of momentum provided by the passion of their fans and the spirit of their senior class. The Hawkeyes have a team that is positioned perfectly to weather such a storm with the longest tenured coach in the Big Ten. Kirk Ferentz is well aware of the environment his squad will be walking into, and he is also cognizant of how to eliminate the home-field advantage.
The Hawkeyes must use their strong rushing attack to lull the Huskers to sleep. The Husker fans will eventually find their seats if the Hawkeyes continue to grind out three and four yards a carry on the ground. Long sustained drives will keep the Husker offense on the sideline and silence the crowd. Mark Weisman is the perfect back to complete this task, and this game sets up an absolutely ideal situation for him to culminate his junior campaign. Weisman will not be the only Hawkeye toting the ball, but his power rushing style may be the most effective against the young Husker defense.
Another benefit of a strong rushing attack is the fact that it will nullify the Huskers’ ever-emerging pass rush. The Huskers, led by Randy Gregory, have been harassing quarterbacks in the latter portion of the season, and the last thing that the Iowa Hawkeyes want is to see their quarterback Jake Rudock looking up from a prone position on the field. Ruddock must remain upright to keep the Husker fans out of the game.
Iowa needs to win the turnover battle by a significant margin. This may seem like an outlandish task to be asked of a college football team, but when a team turns the ball over as often as the Cornhuskers do it is in all actuality not that difficult. If the Huskers continue to put the ball on the ground all the Hawkeyes need to do is to keep the ball away from the Huskers. The Hawkeyes should take extra measures to ensure they clean all grease off of their fingers following their Thanksgiving Day meals so that they may hold on to the ball, because all signs say that the Huskers will not do the same.
Finally the Huskers will undoubtedly try to abuse the Hawkeyes with their rushing attack by Imani Cross and Ameer Abdullah. Abdullah is one of the top backs in the nation, but the Hawkeyes have a very good defense this season. If the Hawkeyes can keep up with the elusive Abdullah and bring the powerful Cross to the ground they will hold a sizable advantage in this game.