Burkhead ran on nine of 15 plays of an 80-yard drive that produced the Huskers' first touchdown. His 2-yard run around right end converted a fourth-and-1 inside the Iowa 30, and six plays later Kyler Reed scored his first touchdown of the season on a 6-yard pass from Taylor Martinez.
Nebraska's coaching staff got Burkhead a record 38th carry on the second-to-last play of the game when the Huskers (9-3, 5-3) were in victory formation. Burkhead took a knee for a 3-yard loss.
Burkhead came out of the 45-17 loss at Michigan banged up, and he was limited in practice all week.
He started and finished strong, breaking a 14-yard run on the Huskers' first play from scrimmage and then going for 8 and 6 yards. Ameer Abdullah spelled him, but never for more than two consecutive plays.
Nebraska is hoping to land a berth in the Capital One Bowl, if two Big Ten teams are invited to BCS games, or the Outback Bowl. Iowa (7-5, 4-4) could slip to the Meineke Car Care Bowl or TicketCity Bowl.
The Hawkeyes avoided getting shut out for the first time in 11 years when Marcus Coker scored on a 2-yard run with 3:26 left.
With Nebraska having joined the Big Ten this year, Friday's game was long touted as the start of a natural rivalry. Iowa is Nebraska's closest Big Ten opponent, and the farm states split by the Missouri River share a passion for football.
The universities further billed it as the inaugural ''Heroes Game'' and honored ''citizen heroes'' from each state at halftime.
The Huskers and Hawkeyes were meeting for the first time since 2000, and Nebraska leads the series 27-12-3.
Martinez was 12 of 22 for 163 yards, and Kenny Bell caught five balls for a season-high 93 yards.
Coker, averaging 118 yards a game, ran 18 times for 87 yards.