Four things the football teams from Iowa and Nebraska can do to position themselves for success in Friday's noon game at Kinnick Stadium:
Nebraska (1-3, 1-3)
1. Establish the run
Nebraska has the most productive rushing attack Iowa has faced this season. Despite some health issues at the position, the Cornhuskers are averaging 198.8 yards per game on the ground, which ranks behind only Ohio State, Illinois and Wisconsin in the Big Ten. Quarterbacks Luke McCaffrey and Adrian Martinez have been Nebraska's most productive rushers, combining to average 128.3 rushing yards per game. Senior Dedrick Mills, who ran for a team-high 94 yards against Iowa last season, has been Nebraska's top running back but has missed most of the past two games with an injury. Freshman Marvin Scott III and redshirt freshmen Ronald Thompkins and Rahmir Johnson are next in line.
2. Stay on, get off the field
Third down has been an ongoing issue for the Cornhuskers this season. Nebraska ranks 14th in the Big Ten in third-down conversions and is 14th in the Big Ten in preventing third-down conversions. The Cornhuskers have been successful in moving the chains just 16 times on 50 third-down snaps, a 32-percent success rate. Nebraska opponents have moved the chains on third down 54 percent of the time. The offense's inability to stay on the field and a defense that has frequently struggled to get stops when finding itself in that awkward third-and-three or third-and-four situation adds up to a 1-3 record.
3. Find the playmaker
With the issues at running back, Wan'Dale Robinson has filled multiple roles this season. The sophomore currently leads the Cornhuskers with 21 receptions for 152 yards but has lined up at running back recently. Robinson has provided 120 yards on the ground, but coaches are hoping to use him more frequently at receiver in upcoming games. Robinson caught 40 passes a year ago when he became one of our Nebraska players ever to total 1,000 all-purpose yards.
4. Stop the run
Nebraska's defense has toiled to stop the run this season, ranking 13th in the Big Ten in allowing 223.3 yards per game. They will be challenged by an Iowa offense that has averaged 212 yards on the ground in its last three games. Linebackers JoJo Domann and Will Honas lead the Cornhuskers' 3-4 look. Domann's 31 tackles include a team-leading five tackles for a loss while Honas counts a team-best three sacks among his 30 stops this season.
Iowa (3-2, 3-2)
1. Establish the run
Iowa's offense has been efficient. The Hawkeyes are third in the Big Ten in averaging 33 points per game, Iowa's highest total since averaging 36.5 points in 2002. A productive rushing attack is a big reason why. Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent rank fourth and 13th in the conference in rushing, averaging 90.6 and 61.8 rushing yards, respectively. That has helped the Hawkeyes currently sit at sixth in the Big Ten in averaging 181.6 yards per game on the ground.
2. Stay opportunistic
Iowa is turning opponents over with great frequency. The Hawkeyes have intercepted 10 passes -- third in the Big Ten behind Indiana's 13 and Northwestern's 11 -- and recovered four fumbles through five games. Jack Koerner currently shares second in the conference with three interceptions while the Hawkeyes' Zach VanValkenburg leads the Big Ten with three fumble recoveries.
3. Get after it
Iowa has settled into a rotation on its defensive front and production is coming from every direction. Tackle Daviyon Nixon leads the team with 8.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks, while ends Zack VanValkenburg and Chauncey Golston currently rank second and third on the team in living large behind the line. VanValkenburg has 6.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks while Golston has recorded six stops for a loss and has three sacks. The other starting defensive tackle, Jack Heflin, is fourth on the team with 2.5 tackles for a loss. Add it all up and it is part of an Iowa effort that has accumulated 34 tackles for a loss and 16 sacks through five games.
4. Keep a leg up
Having a consistent kicker makes a difference in this series. Field goals in the final seconds have decided the last two games between Iowa and Nebraska, with Miguel Recinos hitting from 41 yards as time expired two years ago and Keith Duncan connecting from 48 yards with 1 second remaining last season. Duncan has hit 6-of-9 attempts this season with a long of 47 while Nebraska counters with LSU graduate transfer Connor Culp, who has hit 7-of-8 tries with a long of 38 yards this season for the Cornhuskers.