Nov. 25, 2014
- Hawkeye Football Game Day
- 2014 Fall Camp Central
- Read the November issue of Hawk Talk Monthly
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly iOS app
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly android app
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone/iPad app
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye android app
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa football team isn’t playing for a bucket of eggs Friday, but if it was, the Hawkeyes would want it on display in the Hayden Fry Football Complex.
Instead, Iowa (7-4 overall, 4-3 Big Ten) and Nebraska (8-3, 4-3) will battle for the Hy-Vee Heroes Trophy, a traveling award the Hawkeyes won last season with a 38-17 win in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“Winning conference games and any trophy game is critical in our minds,” University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly news conference in the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “It’s a lot better to have them in your building. It could be a bucket of eggs, it doesn’t matter as long as you have it.”
It will be the fourth straight season the Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers wrap up the regular season six days after their previous game instead of the usual seven. Ferentz said the quicker-than-normal turnaround is more doable at the end of the season rather than earlier when he joked he would like nine days to prepare for an opponent.
“I kind of like it on a couple fronts,” Ferentz said. “Later in the year it forces you to be more efficient and that’s a good thing. The other part is you get to watch everybody sweat on Saturday with your feet up.”
On paper, a marquee matchup Friday would be Iowa senior offensive left tackle Brandon Scherff against Nebraska junior defensive end Randy Gregory. Scherff, a semifinalist for the Outland Trophy, is 6-foot-5, 320 pounds; Gregory is 6-6, 245.
The two didn’t go head-to-head much last season and Ferentz said Nebraska — like all teams — will look for matchups that will serve them best. Other starters on the defensive line for the Cornhuskers are sophomores Greg McMullen (end), Vincent Valentine (tackle), and Maliek Collins (tackle).
“We haven’t played anybody as big and physical as this group,” Ferentz said. “Those two guys inside are huge. They look like somebody slipped them in from (NFL games on) Sunday.”
Nebraska holds a 28-13-3 advantage in the series than began with a 22-0 Iowa win in 1891 in Omaha, Nebraska. The Hawkeyes snapped Nebraska’s five-game winning streak in the series last season. The Cornhuskers won, 13-7, the last time the teams played inside Kinnick Stadium.
It will be the final home game for Iowa’s seniors, including wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley, who has played 49 games with 31 starts. He needs nine catches to break the school’s career receptions record of 173 set by Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.
“He has had a productive career and he has a great attitude,” Ferentz said of Martin-Manley. “He has good durability to play as much as he has.”
Another senior playing his final home game is running back Mark Weisman, who was named one of three finalists for the Burlsworth Trophy that honors the nation’s top former walk-on. Weisman has played 32 games (with 30 starts), rushing for 2,510 yards and 30 touchdowns.
“He’s a great story, the route to get here, then what he has done since he got here,” Ferentz said. “We had no idea or appreciation for what he would become his first year on campus. He’s a great guy, worked hard, took care of business. There’s no way to forecast what was going to take place.”
Iowa is seeking to finish with eight or more wins in a season for the fifth time since 2008.