5 Questions: Nebraska vs Iowa

We talk with HawkeyeInsider.com's Derek Young about Iowa heading into the matchup with Nebraska.

1.) Iowa has struggled with consistency this season, so how refreshing was it for Iowa fans to see Iowa play one of their most solid games after playing Michigan? 

"They were certainly thrilled with the win over Michigan because none really felt they could beat the Wolverines before the season started, much less after already having tripped up against North Dakota State and Northwestern in Kinnick Stadium and being far from impressive against Rutgers in New Jersey.
But I will level with you. They were going to take a win any way they could get it against Michigan but "refreshed" is probably not the adjective I'd use to describe their reaction to the victory. I think they would be "refreshed" if the offense became competent."
2.) Has C.J. Beathard taken a step back? 
"I'm not sure 'a step back' is the proper way to describe his season. He's certainly not accumulating the statistics he did a season ago and the offense is suffering but it's really difficult to know how much blame to place on Beathard for it. The passing offense has fallen short of 100 yards three different times this season which is awful. But he's had to do with a failing pass protection, tons of different offensive line combinations, receivers dropping passes, poor timing between he and the receivers, and a lot of new faces at receiver as well. 
I think he's definitely taken a step back in terms of his mobility in and out of the pocket. For whatever reason Beathard isn't as slippery or as dangerous a runner this year as he was a season ago. I think his offseason procedure and other setbacks health-wise may have impacted his ability to develop much of a chemistry with his new receivers as well. I think he's off his game in ways compared to a season ago but he also isn't getting the same kind of support."
3.) Tell us a name or two on defense Nebraska fans need to know, that maybe don't? 
"I'll assume they know all about defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, inside linebacker Josey Jewell, and cornerback Desmond King. Those three are all-Big Ten caliber players, obviously. 
Other names to know would be Faith Ekakitie and Manny Rugamba. Ekakitie is a senior that has never started a full season but has been starting lately because Nathan Bazata is banged up a little bit. Ekakitie has been a key reserve for a few seasons now but is playing his best football of his career at the right time. He was instrumental in the last three games against Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois. 
Rugamba is the true freshman cornerback that will be starting his third game of his career and all consecutively. His first start came against Michigan because Greg Mabin was ruled out for the season with a fractured ankle. He was one of the top performers against Michigan and made big plays against both the Wolverines and Illini. The Hawkeye newcomer was also a key contributor as the nickelback before filling in for Mabin. He's a future star."
4.) Is this series a rivalry? 
"The Big Ten wants it to be and the powers that be want it to be. I think it could be down the line. It certainly has the potential to be with it being the final game of the season with possible Big Ten West implications on the line often. Right now I'm not a believer in saying that is a rivalry until more meaningful contests and a worthy history is developed between the two programs." 
5.) Your biggest key to the game and prediction? 
"Because Iowa's offense is so limited right now, I think the key matchup is when Nebraska's offense is on the field. Iowa almost has a ceiling of how many points they can score. Because of that, it's all dependent on how much the Huskers can score and how impactful and dominant Iowa's defense can be. Nebraska's offense is certainly capable of scoring enough points (if Tommy Armstrong can play and be effective with his legs), just as long as they don't turn it over and beat themselves. Turnover margin is where the game will likely be won. 
I'd be very convinced Nebraska could win if Tommy Armstrong was healthy because I think he could eat Iowa up with his legs and athleticism. There's some concerns there, though." 


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