LINCOLN, Neb. — As the final seconds ticked off the clock at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium on Friday, Iowa defensive lineman Nathan Bazata led the Hawkeyes’ trophy dash.
The senior from Howells, Nebraska, joined teammates in hoisting the Heroes Game trophy in front of Iowa fans following the 56-14 rout of the Cornhuskers.
"It was pretty sweet going out like that," Bazata said. "There was a lot of motivation for us today, coming out and trying to get back on our feet. After last week (and a loss to Purdue), it was about are we going to get up and compete or are we just going to roll over? We came ready to play."
Linebacker Josey Jewell said Bazata showed plenty of emotion in the locker room following the game.
"Being from Nebraska, I’m sure he wanted this one a little extra," Jewell said.
Bazata impacted things early in the second quarter, sniffing out a fake punt the Cornhuskers attempted to run on a fourth-and-2 play and dropping Luke McNitt for a 5-yard loss on the pass play.
"I kind of knew something was coming. The guy’s eyes were wandering a little bit," Bazata said. "I just shot the A gap, and he was right there. It just landed in my arms."
Quick change: Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Iowa’s 28-point third quarter "just kind of happened."
In a 14-14 game, the Hawkeyes stuck to their plan and eventually things clicked.
"We realized that we had to play through some things against an opponent that was playing us tough," Ferentz said. "We played a pretty clean game, and when you are able to do that, you give yourself a chance."
Riley waits: Following a 4-8 season and with talk of a potential coaching change, third-year Nebraska coach Mike Riley said only that he hopes to continue to be the Cornhuskers coach next season.
"When I go to bed tonight, I’m going to anticipate being here next year because I love to do this and I believe I’m exactly the right person to do this," Riley said. "The football parts, I’ve been doing this so long we know how to fix it, and we are doing a good job recruiting. Those are the two keys to Nebraska getting back to where everybody wants to be."
Everybody eats: Four Iowa running backs combined to rush for six touchdowns against Nebraska.
"Everybody got fed," said Akrum Wadley, who rushed for three scores. "That’s a good thing. Those guys work hard at it. They were rewarded."
Graduate senior James Butler rushed for his first touchdown as a Hawkeye, scoring on a 12-yard run to give Iowa a 28-14 lead in the third quarter.
"It felt good to get in the end zone," Butler said. "The guys up front, they were opening some huge holes for us to run in. They set the table for us all day. They were throwing people around pretty good."
Redshirt freshman Toren Young and true freshman Ivory Kelly-Martin scored carries in the fourth quarter.
Short start: A knee injury forced Iowa strong safety Miles Taylor off the field in the first half Friday, leading to extended minutes for true freshman Geno Stone.
Joining true freshman Matt Hankins in the Hawkeye secondary, Stone matched Jewell’s team-leading total of eight tackles in the most extensive action of his career.
"Geno’s been doing a good job, and when his number was called, he was ready," free safety Jake Gervase said. "He made the plays that were there for him to make. Coach (Phil) Parker always talks about being ready when it’s your time, and he showed he what he can do."
Missing piece: The Cornhuskers played Friday without their leading receiver.
J.D. Spielman, a redshirt freshman who caught 55 passes in 11 games, missed the game because of a shoulder injury he suffered a week ago in Nebraska’s loss to Penn State.
Remembering Elliott: The family of Bob Elliott, a former Iowa player and assistant and a Nebraska assistant who died in July, was recognized on the field at the end of the first quarter Friday.
Elliott began his coaching career at Iowa as a graduate assistant in 1976 and returned to work on Hayden Fry’s staff from 1987-98.
Friday tradition: While Friday marked the seventh time Iowa and Nebraska have played on the Friday after Thanksgiving, it was the 28th consecutive year the Cornhuskers have played on Black Friday.
Nebraska played Oklahoma on the day after Thanksgiving in the final six years of Big Eight Conference play, met Colorado for the 15 years it was in the Big 12 and has played Iowa since joining the Big Ten in 2011.
The series will continue to be played on Black Friday through 2019. A Big Ten schedule rotation beginning in 2020 has Iowa concluding that season and 2021 with games against Wisconsin and the Cornhuskers playing Minnesota.
Citizen heroes: Jerry Goeders of Dayton, Iowa, and Geoffrey Bennett of Omaha were recognized as Citizen Heroes on Friday, honored for saving life-saving heroics.
Geoders rescued an 8-year-old girl who was struggling to stay above water at Lake Rathbun last summer, while Bennett assisted a woman who was struck by a car in a snowstorm last winter.
Both individuals will have their names engraved on the Heroes Game trophy Iowa and Nebraska play for annually.