Hensley: Cold winter for Nebraska, warm bowl game for Iowa

Nebraska has a bright future, but its fans have a cold winter ahead of them.

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Hensley: Cold winter for Nebraska, warm bowl game for Iowa

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and Nebraska head coach Scott Frost speak before the Iowa vs. Nebraska game on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. Iowa defeated the Huskers 31-28.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and Nebraska head coach Scott Frost speak before the Iowa vs. Nebraska game on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. Iowa defeated the Huskers 31-28.

Wyatt Dlouhy

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and Nebraska head coach Scott Frost speak before the Iowa vs. Nebraska game on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. Iowa defeated the Huskers 31-28.

Wyatt Dlouhy

Wyatt Dlouhy

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and Nebraska head coach Scott Frost speak before the Iowa vs. Nebraska game on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. Iowa defeated the Huskers 31-28.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

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Well, my last game from the Kinnick press box has come and passed. And let me tell you, that was a good one.

It took 12 games, but Iowa finally showed a clutch gene (on offense, at least), and it came against a team that talked smack right from the get-go. I applaud Iowa, because until the Nov. 23 win, close games were the Hawkeyes’ nightmare. Each Hawkeye loss came in a one-score game (Wisconsin was technically a two-score loss, but it was a one-score game until a garbage touchdown in the final seconds).

I had flashbacks to Purdue, because once again, Iowa fell victim to a quick, short passing game and a red-hot offense. Iowa’s linebackers had the task of defending Nebraska tailbacks coming out of the backfield, and for the most part, Scott Frost’s plan worked — it was as if he took a page out of Jeff Brohm’s book.

But the offense finally delivered, converting a fourth-and-8 in the closing seconds to set up Miguel Recinos for the kick of his career.

Good for him, especially after he missed his first attempt.

He said after the game that Scott Frost’s timeout was a huge mistake. I’m not sure if he genuinely believed that at the time or if he was just looking back at the moment, now the hero for the game, but regardless, Recinos got the outcome he wanted.

If I were Frost, I would have called that timeout 10 times out of 10. In fact, I actually think Frost’s game plan was sensational. Yes, Iowa punched Nebraska’s defense in the mouth, but the Husker offense kept the Hawkeyes on the ropes all game long. Plus, a 98-yard drive that started with a fake punt deep in your own territory is a statement. Gutsy, yes. Game changing, too. (But, as gutsy as going for it on fourth-and-8, outside of field-goal range, late in the fourth quarter?)

Iowa fans and Nebraska can talk all the smack they want, but the Huskers have quite the future ahead. I genuinely believe Frost is an excellent coach, and once he starts getting his own recruits and integrating more and more of his system with the players, Nebraska will be an eight- or nine-win team, easy.

But that’s in the future. This current Nebraska team doesn’t know how to win, despite Frost taking over a team that’s had a top-five recruiting class in the conference for four-consecutive seasons … yet those Husker seniors never got a win over the Hawkeyes. Fancy that.

Senior offensive lineman Jerald Foster said before the game that he can’t wait to beat Iowa. That’s something he never got to do in college, and something he will never do.

Much like how Urban Meyer owns Jim Harbaugh in the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, in this current state, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has the upper hand. He’s won five out of the last six, and only once since these teams started playing on Black Friday has Nebraska won by more than 6 points. In those eight games, Iowa has outscored Nebraska, 241-159.

The Husker fans can start pointing to next season as the turning point, and I would do that, too.

Because while Nebraska faithful frantically type away on Twitter, saying how next year will be their year, Iowa fans can sit back and relax, awaiting their bowl destination.

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