LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Keith Duncan kicked a 48-yard field goal with one second left, giving No. 19 Iowa a 27-24 victory over Nebraska on Friday that leaves the Cornhuskers out of the postseason for a third consecutive season.
The Hawkeyes (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten) overcame a sluggish second half offensively to beat the Cornhuskers (5-7, 3-6) for a fifth straight year and second year in a row on a late field goal. Last year they won on Miguel Recinos’ 41-yarder as time expired.
Iowa, which had its 14-point lead wiped out in the third quarter, started its final possession at its 26 with 32 seconds left. Nate Stanley had a long pass to Nico Ragaini overturned to incomplete on video review, but then completed a pair of 22-yard passes to Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Sam LaPorta to bring on the reliable Duncan.
The Huskers called two timeouts before Duncan drilled the winner down the middle and with plenty of distance.
“He’s proven time and time again in practice and in games that he’s going to perform for us,” Stanley said. “We knew we didn’t have to score a touchdown. We feel confident with our guys that we’re going to be able to make plays out there.”
Nebraska, down 24-10 at half, tied it with back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter. Luke McCaffrey entered the game for a play in place of quarterback Adrian Martinez, rolled to his left and hit JD Spielman with a perfect 39-yard TD pass.
After the Huskers forced a punt, Martinez was back in and the Huskers played some power football while driving 60 yards for the tying score. The Huskers ran on 12 of 13 plays, the only pass being an 11-yarder to Kade Warner to convert a fourth-and-6 before Wyatt Mazour ran up the middle into the end zone from 9 yards.
Smith-Marsette scored on a 45-yard on a reverse run and ran back a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and Tyler Goodson broke a 55-yard TD run as Iowa got out to its lead in the first half.
Iowa had 18 plays for 191 yards in the first quarter but just 131 yards on 38 plays for the remainder of the game. Iowa gained 11 yards in the second quarter and 7 in the third.
Iowa rushed for 225 yards, its most since going for 351 against Middle Tennessee on Sept. 28, but 100 came on two scoring plays.
“It was about three plays on defense in the first half,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said. “Our edge lost contain on the reverse, which can’t happen. We got cut out of the backside of another. We missed tackle on another one. Aside from that, the defense held its own against the run game and did a great job against what probably will be an NFL quarterback, an NFL arm. Those two big plays and the kickoff return really hurt us.”
Stanley completed 11 of 24 passes for 99 yards, his lowest total since throwing for 86 against Maryland last year. Tyler Goodson ran 13 times for a season-high 116 yards.
Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz moved ahead of the man he replaced, Hayden Fry, on the Big Ten list for career conference wins. Ferentz now has 97 in 21 seasons, behind only Ohio State’s Woody Hayes (153), Michigan’s Bo Schembechler (143) and the University of Chicago’s Amos Alonzo Stagg (115).
This was the ninth straight Black Friday meeting between Iowa and Nebraska. A Big Ten scheduling change-up has the Huskers playing Minnesota on the day after Thanksgiving the next two years. Iowa-Nebraska will be back on Black Friday in 2022.
Iowa: This was a hard-fought win for the Hawkeyes and one they’ll savor because it came against their border rival. Except for the big-play touchdowns, their offense continued to be middling.
Nebraska: The Huskers dropped to 0-6 against Top 25 opponents over two seasons under Frost.
Iowa will stay in the Top 25 thanks to Duncan’s late field goal.