Iowa City, Iowa — With a possible trip to the Big Ten championship game at stake, Nebraska fell flat.
C.J. Beathard threw three touchdown passes and the Hawkeyes pummeled No. 17 Nebraska 40-10 on Friday, knocking the Cornhuskers out of Big Ten title contention and sending Wisconsin to the championship game as the West Division champion.
Tommy Armstrong started for Nebraska (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten) despite a balky hamstring and was just 13-of-35 passing for 125 yards. Backup Ryker Fyfe, who broke his non-throwing wrist last week, didn’t take a snap until the game had long been decided.
“Tommy wasn’t 100 percent,” Huskers coach Mike Riley said. “I don’t know if he was the healthiest. … I don’t know how much it would have made a difference (to play Fyfe).”
Nebraska’s defense was just as bad as its offense.
LeShun Daniels Jr. ran for 158 yards and two scores and George Kittle caught two touchdown passes for the Hawkeyes (8-4, 6-3). They closed the regular season with three straight wins — two of them over ranked opponents — and scored their most points since a win over Purdue on Oct. 15.
Iowa broke open what was expected to be a tight game with a 75-yard touchdown run by Akrum Wadley and a 77-yard touchdown throw from Beathard to Riley McCarron in the first quarter.
“We played as good as we’ve played all year,” Beathard said. “It just shows the fight and the resilience of this team.”
The Badgers are big favorites to beat Minnesota today. But the Cornhuskers, who entered November as a legitimate playoff contender, hardly looked like one after being outscored 102-13 in their last two road games.
“We gave up big plays. I think we were horrible on third down,” Riley said. “I’m really disappointed all the way around in all of us.”
The Huskers have lost three of their last four to Iowa, a fate sealed when they ran into Iowa kicker Keith Duncan on a field goal try in the fourth quarter — allowing the Hawkeyes to go up 23 a few plays later.
The Hawkeyes didn’t make it to the Big Ten title game either. But they did go 6-3 in the league and improved their bowl resume, an impressive feat for a team that lost to North Dakota State of the FCS in its final nonconference game.
“You learn a lot about yourself in November,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
No. 6 Washington 45, (at) No. 23 Washington State: Jake Browning threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns and the Huskies used a 28-point first quarter to claim the Apple Cup for the fourth straight year and the Pac-12 North title. Washington will take its College Football Playoff hopes into the Pac-12 championship game next Friday against either Colorado or Southern California.
(At) Memphis 48, No. 18 Houston 44: In what might be sought-after coach Tom Herman’s final game with Houston, Riley Ferguson threw a 10-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds left in a wild fourth quarter to lift Memphis. Herman, who came into the game amid speculation he could be close to taking a job with LSU or Texas, guided the Cougars (9-3, 5-3American Athletic Conference) back from a 17-point halftime deficit.