Friday's college football: Nebraska spoils Iowa's bid to clinch Big Ten West title
Iowa City, Iowa — Casey Thompson threw for three touchdowns, and Nebraska ruined Iowa’s chance to clinch the Big Ten West Division title outright with a 24-17 win on Friday.
The Huskers (4-8, 3-6 Big Ten) snapped a five-game losing streak. Iowa (7-5, 5-4) had its four-game winning streak snapped.
Thompson threw touchdown passes of 87 and 18 yards to Trey Palmer in the first half and a 14-yarder to Marcus Washington in the third quarter as Nebraska built a 24-0 lead.
Thompson completed 20 of 30 passes for 278 yards. Palmer had nine catches for 165 yards.
“I didn’t feel like they could guard any of our receivers,” Thompson said. “I definitely didn’t think they could run with Trey. And obviously that showed.”
“We felt good with our receivers against their defensive backs,” Nebraska interim coach Mickey Joseph said. “We thought they were going to have trouble guarding Trey. We talked to Trey this morning, ‘Just use your speed. Don’t tiptoe through them.’”
Nebraska broke a seven-game losing streak to Iowa.
Asked how much the Huskers wanted to beat their rival, Palmer said, “Real bad. Very, very bad. Had it on our mind the whole week we were going to do it. And we went out there and did it.”
“We told them, ‘You let Wisconsin off last week (a 15-14 loss). Don’t let Iowa off,’” Joseph said.
Palmer, who became Nebraska’s all-time leader in single-season receiving yards with 1,043, felt he could have a big game against the Hawkeyes, even if they came into the game ranked sixth nationally in passing defense.
“They can’t guard me,” Palmer said. “That’s all I saw. They can’t guard me, they can’t run with me.”
“Our goal was to take the top off of their defense today, and we did a good job of that,” Thompson said. “We knew they would have to cover in space. We tried to get Trey matched up.”
Iowa lost cornerback Cooper DeJean in the first quarter to an injury. That left the Hawkeyes with sophomore Jamison Heinz and freshman T.J. Hall working at cornerback. Palmer beat Hall on both touchdowns.
“It impacted us a great deal,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s a big loss, because (DeJean) is such a versatile player.”
Iowa had a chance to tie the game in the closing minutes, getting the ball twice in the last 3:20 after closing to within 24-17 on a 45-yard field goal by Drew Stevens. But backup quarterback Alex Padilla threw incomplete on fourth down on the first possession. Nebraska linebacker Chris Kolarevic’s interception with 42 seconds left completed the Huskers’ win.
“The reality is we made it too much of a hill to climb,” Ferentz said.
“I wanted to really blow them out, finish them off,” Palmer said. “I didn’t want to play with them.”
The Hawkeyes need losses by Purdue and Illinois on Saturday to have a chance at back-to-back West Division titles.
Iowa lost starting quarterback Spencer Petras to an injury in the first quarter after he was hit and lost a fumble. The turnover led to Timmy Bleekrode’s 21-yard field goal and a 10-0 Huskers lead. Padilla also lost a fumble that led to Nebraska’s second touchdown.
Kaleb Johnson, who rushed for 109 yards, gave the Hawkeyes their first score with a 44-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Padilla threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Luke Lachey in the fourth quarter.
Padilla completed 16 of 33 passes for 141 yards.
▶ N.C. State 30, (at) No. 18 North Carolina 27 (2OT): Ben Finley threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start, and North Carolina State held on to beat Drake Maye and North Carolina when Noah Burnette duck-hooked a 35-yard field goal try in the second overtime.
Maye connected with Antoine Green from 4 yards out on the final play of regulation to tie the game at 24-all, but N.C. State (8-4, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) kept the ACC Coastal Division champion Tar Heels (9-3, 6-2) out of the end zone in the first overtime.
Burnette — who also missed from 27 yards in the fourth quarter — made a 26-yarder in the first OT and the Wolfpack tied it on Christopher Dunn’s 31-yarder. Dunn was good from 21 yards in the second overtime and N.C. State, which never trailed, held on to hand North Carolina its second straight loss.
Devin Carter had six receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown for the Wolfpack, who snapped a two-game skid and pulled out a thrilling victory over their in-state rival for the second straight year.
Carter caught Finley’s back-shoulder pass just outside the end zone and backed in for a 26-yard touchdown with 3:54 remaining in regulation for the Wolfpack’s first points of the second half.
Finley became N.C. State’s fourth starting quarterback in a seven-game span. He completed 27 of 40 passes.
Maye finished 29 of 49 for 233 yards, one interception and the tying TD toss on fourth-and-goal to Green, which followed an apparent touchdown catch by John Copenhaver that was overturned on a replay review.
▶ No. 19 Tulane 27, (at) No. 24 Cincinnati 24: Michael Pratt found Shae Wyatt with a 30-yard touchdown pass with 5 minutes left to lead Tulane past Cincinnati, making the Green Wave the hosts for the upcoming American Conference Championship game.
Tyjae Spears rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns for Tulane (10-2, 7-1 AAC), which beat Cincinnati (9-3, 6-2) for the first time in five tries. Tulane also snapped the Bearcats’ 32-game home winning streak.
Pratt went 13-for-22 passing for 162 yards and the decisive touchdown. He also rushed for 30 yards on nine carries.
Redshirt sophomore Evan Prater started at quarterback for Cincinnati in place of injured Ben Bryant. Prater was 10-for-26 for 102 yards and rushed for 83 yards on 18 carries.