Lincoln, NE - It's hard to score if your offense is not on the field – time of possession. It's hard to stay on the field if you don't convert on third downs – third down percentage.
It's easy to look at both categories and tell both were the difference in today's game – it's actually probably common sense. But after both categories were abysmal in Ann Arbor last week, common sense needs to be pointed out.
It wouldn't shock Nebraska fans to hear Iowa's numbers nearly compared to the Huskers last week – the same result, a big loss. Let's face it, Nebraska might have only won 20-7, but they controlled all areas of the game.
"I thought those were two big statistics, being able to get off the field on third down, convert our third downs and also win the take-a," said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini. "I think it was big. I always say, ‘the best defense is when you're standing on the sideline watching your offense go.' I thought it was a really good team effort by our guys. I thought we played well in all three phrases of the game. I knew we were going to need to do that to come out on top today."
The Nebraska offense knew they needed to hold onto the ball a little longer this week, especially with a defense that has faced injury after injury the past few games.
"We were able to get first downs and move the ball," said Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck. "We kept them off base with outside runs, passes, different formations – we got some first downs early."
Take it from the Iowa defense, it made a difference.
"Personally, it wears on you a bit," said Iowa linebacker James Morris. "We were just trying to get off the field…they played a great game."
A large part of the difference in time of possession for Nebraska was the offensive line and running back Rex Burkhead's play. The junior carried 38 times for 163 yards – giving Nebraska manageable third downs.
"The offensive line did a tremendous job up front," said Burkhead who is always ready shoulder the load. "Whatever Coach Beck wanted to do and the team needed me to do I was ready for. "That happened to be the game plan today."