An early Thanksgiving for Iowa and Nebraska players, a player’s perspective on the differences between Nebraska’s quarterbacks and James Morris is named a finalist for a national award.
1. Thanksgiving is today for players at both Iowa and Nebraska.
With teams playing on Friday, coaches of both teams will stick to their normal day-before-game routines on Thursday and that includes usual Friday meals being served to both teams the day before the game which means turkey and the trimmings will be on the menu today for the Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers rather than on Thursday.
“We’ll have a big team meal and any parents who are in the area and want to help out volunteer,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s been a good thing in the past and I’m sure it will be again.’’
Ferentz has never been a big fan of the Thanksgiving week games, preferring to give players a break that week when the rest of the campus is closed.
“We have gas-powered cars now, not horse and buggies, so I might as well embrace it,’’ Ferentz said. “It’s here to stay.’’
2. Injuries have forced the Cornhuskers to remake their offense multiple times this season.
As many as six starters have missed games at the same time, with the line and receiver positions hard hit beyond the changes that Nebraska has been forced to make at quarterback.
“We need bodies,’’ coach Bo Pelini said. “This has been one of the more beat-up football teams that I have been around. The thing that has made it difficult is that we have been hit hard at one spot, on the offensive line, and the past couple of weeks that has made it difficult to work.’’
Pelini praises the work of his offensive coaches for the way they have managed personnel simply to give Nebraska a chance to practice.
“The experience some of those young guys are getting now bodes well for the future, and we’ve had a lot of guys step up and do a nice job, but it has been a challenge for everyone,’’ Pelini said.
3. The Black Friday date of the Iowa-Nebraska game leads to a shortened week of preparations which coach Kirk Ferentz said the Hawkeyes have altered a bit from year to year.
“Coming out of the first year there were some things we definitely felt like we needed to tweak,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “There’s a couple of things you look at, a little bit like bowl preparation. I thought last year our preparation was good. The week was good as far as what we were trying to do. We feel comfortable this week.’’
4. Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah has topped 100 yards 10 times this season and has his eyes on the Big Ten rushing title heading into Friday’s game with Iowa.
“That would mean a lot to me. It starts with doing what I can to help us win the game, that’s the most important thing,’’ Abdullah said.
He currently averages 134.8 yards per game for Nebraska.
5. Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg have split time at quarterback for Nebraska in the absence of Taylor Martinez, but Iowa linebacker James Morris sees similarities between the two.
“Both of those guys have big, strong arms. I’m not really sure why they rotate, but it seems like both of them can make all of the throws and both of them can run it a bit,’’ Morris said. “They’ve both played well in tough situations and whoever is out there, we know it’s going to be another dogfight for us.’’
6. The Hawkeyes’ 24-21 win over Michigan last weekend marked the first time this season that Iowa had come from behind to earn a victory and the first time since the Michigan State game in early October a year ago that the Hawkeyes rallied in the fourth quarter to win.
Nebraska has made a habit of that in recent years, coming from behind to win in the fourth quarter seven times against Big Ten teams in the past two seasons alone. That includes the team’s three November wins this year against Northwestern, Michigan and Penn State.
7. Iowa’s James Morris was named Tuesday as one of four finalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
The Hawkeye linebacker joins Anthony Barr of UCLA, Chris Borland of Wisconsin and Devon Kennard of USC as finalists for the award which is based on performance on the field and character off the field.
The winner will be announced on Dec. 8.
8. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is under some heat despite the fact that his team will be playing for its sixth straight season with at least nine wins on Friday.
Asked if he felt he would be under heat Iowa if he had won nine games in six straight seasons, coach Kirk Ferentz laughed, “I’d like to be in a position to find out.’’
9. Iowa collected the 17th verbal commitment of its 2014 recruiting class on Tuesday when linebacker Parker Hesse of Waukon, Iowa, accepted a scholarship offer.
Coach Kirk Ferentz cannot speak about specific recruits until after they sign in February, but he said Tuesday he expects Iowa’s class of incoming recruits to number right at 20.
“Ballpark, 20, we’ll know more in a month or so,’’ Ferentz said.
Ferentz has signed at least 20 players in each of his first 15 recruiting classes at Iowa.
10. An Iowa basketball game watch for fans headed to the Iowa-Nebraska football game has been scheduled for Thursday night in Omaha.
The event, hosted by Bravo Sports Marketing, will be held at D.J.’s Dugout, 1003 Capitol Ave. in Omaha beginning at 5:30 p.m. Iowa faces Xavier at 6 p.m. in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
Admission is $5 at the door.