LINCOLN, Neb. — It was loud, it was off key and it was delivered in a multitude of tempos, but it never sounded better.

With the Heroes Trophy hoisted above their heads for the first time ever, Iowa players sang the school’s fight song as they celebrated with fans packed into a corner of Nebraska’s cavernous Memorial Stadium, savoring every last second of a 38-17 victory Friday over the Cornhuskers.

Completing the 180-degree turnaround from last year’s 4-8 record, the Hawkeyes won their eighth game of the season in dominating fashion over an opponent they had not beaten anywhere since 1981 and had not defeated in five tries on their home field since 1943.

“To play the way we played together, to win like this, wow,’’ running back Mark Weisman said. “We just kept working, kept fighting. Everybody on both sides of the ball, we kept believing that good things would happen.’’

It took some time.

Iowa didn’t put the Cornhuskers away until Weisman and backup quarterback C.J. Beathard scored on touchdown runs of 2 and 4 yards in the fourth quarter to extend a 24-17 lead the Hawkeyes built in part because of Cornhuskers blunders.

Two interceptions, a fumble and a botched fake punt attempt turned into 21 points for Iowa, which scored the game’s first 14 points and never trailed as it earned its fourth road victory of the season.

“They gave us some short fields to work with and we made the most of them. Wins don’t come easy in the Big Ten, and when you have a chance to get one, you have to go for it,’’ said Kevonte Martin-Manley, who caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Jake Rudock one play after Christian Kirksey dropped punter Sam Foltz for an 8-yard loss on an unsuccessful punt fake.

Martin-Manley praised the call that extended the 17-10 lead Iowa owned at the time.

“To come right back at them, that was big. Jake (Rudock) made a great throw and (offensive coordinator Greg) Davis made a great call to go for it then and there,’’ Martin-Manley said.

Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini was in no mood to disagree after his gamble on a 4th-and-3 call backfired.

“We liked the look they were in and we whiffed on a block, the most important block,’’ Pelini said. “We took a chance and it didn’t work out. It’s my fault.’’

Not much worked for injury-riddled Nebraska.

Ron Kellogg became the third quarterback to start this season for the Cornhuskers when Tommy Armstrong, a seven-game starter who replaced injured Taylor Martinez, couldn’t go because of an ankle injury.

Anthony Hitchens and James Morris set a tone with interceptions that ended Nebraska’s first two drives and led the Hawkeyes to a 7-0 lead following a 10-yard touchdown reception by C.J. Fiedorowicz with 16 seconds left in the first quarter.

“The defense did a great job getting us the ball all day and (Rudock), he’s showing that he has the confidence in me to get into the end zone when we get in close,’’ Fiedorowicz said. “It was a great way to start the game.’’

Midway through the second quarter, the leg of punter Connor Kornbrath left Nebraska buried at its own 1- and 3-yard lines, setting up short fields which eventually led to the first of Weisman’s two touchdown runs, a 1-yard carry with 5:15 left which sent Iowa on its way to a 14-3 lead at the break.

Big Ten rushing leader Ameer Abdullah, held to a season-low 85 yards, ran for just 16 yards in the first half but finished off an 11-play, 75-yard drive to open the second half with a 5-yard touchdown run which pulled Nebraska (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) within 14-10.

Mike Meyer answered with a 31-yard field goal with 6:04 left in the third quarter, shortly before the ill-fated punt fake.

Kellogg did keep the Cornhuskers within 24-17, hitting Quincy Enunwa with a 15-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but Louis Trinca-Pasat recovered an Abdullah fumble on Nebraska’s next possession at the Huskers 39-yard line.

Starting for the sixth time in its first 12 possessions inside Nebraska territory, Iowa used a 37-yard run by Jordan Canzeri and Weisman’s 2-yard score with 9:17 to go to regain a two-touchdown lead.

“I didn’t feel real comfortable until the last 4, 5 minutes because they’ve come back to win three of their last four, taking people down to the wire,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “There’s nothing easy about coming over here, but I’m really thrilled and proud of our team right now.’’

(4) comments

BenHur

Oh wow, I like the Hawkeyes but would never be so bold to declare any team to be "America's team". Sure, the Hawkeyes had a good year but they still lost 4 games.

Bobaloo

Well ... a fake punt attempt by the opposing team and Iowa finally gets it right! I mean, yeah, there was the botched block, but this time, I think Iowa had it sniffed out and simply came out on that play.

That all said, WHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What an awsome in. Iowa had a tremendous effort no matter how you look at it. Yeah, Nebraska didn't play very well and self destructed many times, but Iowa was cripser in every way today. Offense was better ... and when they sputtered, the defense picked it up big time. Special teams really won this game -- starting most of the day in Nebraska territory and pinning the 'Huskers deep on their opening drives, that's a credit to everyone.

A wonderful win and a great end to a regular season that will be just a building block for next year. The bowl game is just gravy IMO .... yeah, we want to win it, and it's going to be a good bowl, but I think next year is going to be a great season.

atreyu

so many people on qctimes were saying that the Hawkeyes were not going to even win 3 games this season after the first loss. Funny how people are so quick to gripe and assume. This win will put them in a January 1st or 2nd bowl game and when the Hawks win that game, expect the Hawkeyes to be around 20 in the polls at the end of the year. They are by far the best 8-4 team in the nation with all 4 losses coming to top 15 teams that have a combined record of 30plus wins and just 3 losses. In Ferentz we trust. Remember that! Love it or leave it the Hawkeyes are America's team!

Plato

The only thing that the so called experts on the numerous sport networks could talk about was the demise of the Nebraska football program and possible firing of coach Pelini. The Hawkeyes have been much improved the last few games especially the defense. If not for turnovers and kicking problems Iowa dominated Michigan last week. Without turnovers they dominated this Nebraska team and did not get much credit in the process.

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