No. 4 Iowa didn't look like a world-beater in Lincoln on Saturday, but that's okay. The Hawkeyes won anyway, and kept their perfect season alive.
Iowa got 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Jordan Canzeri and the fourth pick-six of the Hawkeyes' 2015 campaign in their 28-20 win over Nebraska, earning the first 12-win season in program history.
Nebraska had chances to put pressure on the Hawkeys, and limited Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard (9-of-16 for 97 yards and one touchdown) all day. But the Huskers failed to get points on one fourth-quarter drive that ended with a failed throw on fourth down deep in Iowa territory, and Tommy Armstrong Jr.'s career-high fourth interception on the day on the next drive more or less ended any realistic comeback chances.
Nebraska would add a field goal with just over a minute remaining, but Iowa recovered the subsequent onside kick to end all hopes of a miracle.
Iowa was locked into an appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game no matter the outcome of Saturday's game, but the Hawkeyes are now all but assured of a College Football Playoff berth with a victory, instead of being put in the position of potentially playing spoiler.
1. Iowa's never not gonna be Iowa. A program that did little more than change its punt return philosophy and practice schedules after a dispiriting 7-6 season that featured a close loss to Nebraska in its regular season finale just finished an undefeated regular season with a double-digit win over Nebraska.
Beathard did very little through the air in this game, Canzeri thumped away for most of his yards (though he did have a 68-yard touchdown run), the Hawkeyes only barely topped 40 offensive snaps on the night and never converted a third down -- and for all of those reasons, Nebraska was never fully, truly out of contention.
But what Iowa did do was enough. That's been Iowa's greatest strength all season: The Hawkeyes always do enough.
2. Nebraska isn't going bowling, probably. With the loss, the Huskers fell to 5-7 on the season, which would eliminate them from postseason eligibility in most years. A proliferation of bowls and of losing teams might yet get Mike Riley's team to a postseason game, but it's mostly out of Nebraska's control now.
And that isn't a good result for Riley's first season, which came after Nebraska fired Bo Pelini following his seventh consecutive season of at least nine wins and four losses. While Riley wasn't expected to make the Huskers elite immediately, Pelini managed to get nine wins out of most of the same players. There's reason to wonder whether Nebraska downgraded at coach, and will be until Riley has a superb season.
3. Nebraska's stuck with Armstrong. The Huskers' junior signal caller came up just short of throwing for his fifth 300-yard game in 2015 after doing it just once over his first two years under Pelini. And he's improved, if only marginally, from previous years.
But he also looked terrible for most of this game, missing receivers routinely and throwing easy interceptions. And without Nebraska having anyone else looming as a savior, Riley's probably dancing with the one Pelini brought him.