Lincoln, Neb. — Iowa certainly didn’t change the minds of critics who say the Hawkeyes don’t look the part of a national championship contender.
They didn’t do a whole lot on offense against Nebraska, their defense gave up a lot of yards again and they muffed a punt.
When the clock struck 0:00 Friday, though, they were celebrating a 28-20 victory that finished their first perfect regular season in 93 years.
“We’re not trying to be pretty, we’re trying to be productive,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Football’s not gymnastics. There are style points in gymnastics. Here it’s having one point more than your opponent. We’re 12-0. You can’t do better than that.”
The Hawkeyes (8-0 Big Ten, No. 4 CFP) locked arms and ran to the south end zone to pick up the Heroes Trophy that goes to the winner of this game. Then it was off to the corner to salute their fans before heading to the locker room.
There’s still work to be done to make this season even better. Next stop, the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis where they’ll play for their first conference title since 2004. Win there, and a spot in the College Football Playoff is a very real possibility. Maybe even a certainty.
“The goal is three more,” offensive lineman Austin Blythe said. “Right now we’re going to enjoy this one and find out our opponent on Sunday.”
Jordan Canzeri ran for 140 yards on 17 carries and broke long touchdown runs on back-to-back series in the third quarter on a raw afternoon when a gusty north wind made for a 12-degree wind chill.
The Hawkeyes generated only 250 total yards and were limited to just 44 plays from scrimmage because they went 0 for 9 on third downs. But Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw four interceptions, with Parker Hesse returning one 4 yards for a touchdown, and the Cornhuskers (5-7, 3-5) committed eight penalties, including four personal fouls.
All that helped Iowa remain one of two unbeaten teams. Clemson is the other.
“You want to win every game, that’s your goal,” Ferentz said. “We find ourselves in a good position today. But we’ve been trying to get there for 17 years.”
The Huskers needed a win to assure bowl eligibility.
“To some people who say we’re not good enough to go to a bowl, maybe they’re right,” Nebraska defensive end Jack Gangwish said, “but I’d sure like to go.”
Western Michigan 35, (at) No. 24 Toledo 30: Corey Davis caught two touchdown passes and Western sent Northern Illinois to the Mid-American Conference championship game next week at Ford Field.
The Rockets (9-2, 6-2) could have earned the MAC West title and a spot in the league title game, but the Broncos (7-5, 6-2) created a three-way tie for the division. Northern beat both Toledo and Western and will face Bowling Green on Dec. 4.
The game turned when Toledo’s Alonzo Russell fumbled a punt to set up Davis’ second touchdown, a 30-yard catch from Zach Terrell with 1:07 to play in the first half that gave the Broncos a 25-21 lead.
The Broncos would not relinquish the advantage, pushing their lead to two scores on a fourth-and-goal run from 1 yard out by Jamauri Bogan on the first drive of the second half.
Kareem Hunt ran for 139 yards and a touchdown and Phillip Ely threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns for the Rockets.
(At) Central Michigan 35, Eastern Michigan 28: Romello Ross scored four touchdowns for Central (7-5, 6-2).
Eastern (1-11, 0-8) led 21-7 at halftime on two touchdown passes by Brogan Roback and a 35-yard interception return by Kyle Rachwal.
But the Chippewas fired back after the break, scoring on a 63-yard touchdown pass from Cooper Rush to Ross on its first possession. Ross’ 3-yard run — his second of the game — tied it at 21.
Ross’ third rushing touchdown, a 17-yarder, came after an Eastern fumble. But Ross was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play, and Eastern took advantage of the short field — Darius Jackson busted a 49-yard touchdown run on the next play to tie it at 28.
Central responded, though, as Rush hooked up with Corey Willis for a 67-yard touchdown pass to cap a busy third quarter.
Martez Walker had 119 yards rushing for Central, while Rush finished 25-of-39 for 391 yards and two TD passes.
(At) No. 15 TCU 28, No. 7 Baylor 21 (2OT): Trevone Boykin threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to KaVontae Turpin in the second overtime on a rainy night, knocking the Bears out of contention for their third straight Big 12 title. Boykin, playing with a heavily taped right ankle after missing a game, threw for 148 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for a 1-yard score in the first overtime. Josh Carraway returned a fumble 56 yards for a touchdown for the Horned Frogs (10-2, 7-2 Big 12).
Devin Chafin ran for 119 yards and two scores, and caught a 4-yard TD in the first overtime, but was stopped short on a fourth-and-1 play to end the game.
With the loss by Baylor (9-2, 6-2, No. 7 CFP), the Big 12 champion will be the winner Saturday night when No. 5 Oklahoma plays at No. 9 Oklahoma State.
(At) No. 18 Oregon 52, Oregon State 42: Vernon Adams threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns and Oregon (9-3, 7-2 Pac-12) extended its winning streak to six games. It was the ninth straight loss for the Beavers (2-10, 0-9).
(At) Washington 45, No. 20 Washington State 10: Myles Gaskin rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
Sidney Jones, Darren Gardenhire and Azeem Victor all returned turnovers for touchdowns in the second half and Washington (6-6, 4-5 Pac-12) became bowl eligible.
Peyton Bender made his first college start for Washington State (8-4, 6-3) because of a concussion to Luke Falk.
(At) No. 21 Houston 52, Navy 31: Greg Ward, Jr. threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns to lead Houston (11-1, 7-1) to a spot in the first American Athletic Conference championship game.
Houston clinched the West Division title and will host either Temple or South Florida in the championship game Dec. 5.