Iowa and Nebraska came into the season hoping their Black Friday matchup would be for a division title but instead it is now a consolation prize.
The Hawkeyes will host the Huskers and the winner will finish third in the Big Ten West Division. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz hopes the atmosphere is close to last week’s game against Wisconsin as he says the crowd was “unbelievable” and says they will need the same thing again against Nebraska.
It is Iowa’s final chance to win a trophy game having lost to Iowa State, Minnesota and the Badgers. “We want them all, believe me. We lost another one Saturday, an opportunity to get one,” Ferentz says. “Winning conference games is real important for us. Any trophy game. we have 12 games, they’re all really critical in our minds. Not diminishing what the trophy means, it’s a lot better to have them in your building. It’s what a trophy stands for. That’s what’s really significant about it. It could be a bucket of eggs, it really doesn’t matter as long as you got it. That’s the whole thing.”
Like all coaches Ferentz is a creature of habit but says he has learned to enjoy the Black Friday game even though it makes for a shorter week of preparation. “I kind of like it actually on a couple fronts, at this time of year, I think it’s doable, realistically doable. Whereas, in the early part of the season, you need nine days to get ready for a game and they don’t give you that. That’s how it feels. Later in the year, if you’re doing things efficiently, it probably forces you to be more efficient. And that’s a good thing. The other part is you get to watch everybody sweat on Saturday sitting there with your feet up. So that’s not a bad deal,” according to Ferentz.
This game will feature two outstanding linemen in Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff and Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory. Ferentz says there may not be many head-to-head matchups, though as it didn’t happen very much last year.
Iowa saw its division title hopes come to an end with a 26-24 loss to Wisconsin. Ferentz says they came up short, but the team did respond and took the game down to the last minutes.
Iowa is 7-4. Nebraska is 8-3.