Nebraska, with a loss October 22 to Wisconsin, is depending on a victory Friday over Iowa and a Wisconsin defeat.
They've won five straight games heading into Saturday's showdown against Minnesota on Senior Day at Camp Randall Stadium, are ranked No. 5 in the country and at 9-2 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten West, they have to win one more game to ensure a spot in the Big Ten title game on December 3.
It's not something the Hawkeyes are necessarily concerned about.
"It's tough for the fat boys", Nebraska 300-pound defensive tackle Kevin Maurice joked on Monday "It's our favorite holiday".
Coming off a strong performance against Maryland, the offense should get another boost with quarterback Tommy Armstrong coming back from a hamstring injury.
The Hawkeyes rebounded to stun second-ranked MI and shutout IL the past two weeks to improve to 7-4.
"How effective they'll be remains to be seen", Ferentz said. "He'll be ready to go and we have to be ready for him".
The Gophers hold a 47-30 all-time record against Wisconsin, dating back to 1975. Take care of business, and the Badgers in playing in the conference title game in Indianapolis and have a shot at a berth in the college playoffs.
Last season, Armstrong's four interceptions to zero touchdowns proved to be a difference maker, as the Cornhuskers fell to the Hawkeyes 28-20.
Regardless of who starts, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz says his staff needs to prepare for all of them to play. "We were real successful in all areas of the game today".More news: Microsoft takes 40% off Xbox One games for Black Friday
"If you think of the last two (points) it was a miss-serve and an error", Rolfzen said. "You have to be prepared for anything".
That so far has been a consistent pattern in the Nebraska-Iowa series since it was renewed with the Huskers' arrival in the Big Ten. "I think that's the mentality of our defense, that's the mentality of the Blackshirts, that when the game time comes around, that we can be the guys that can be trusted". Nebraska dropped to 26-2 overall and 17-2 in the league.
Riley bluntly responded, "I don't know", when asked who would be taking first-team reps in practice. "It's not that common".
That win kept Nebraska in the thick of the Big Ten West Division race. Minnesota won the last meeting between the two teams, 3-0, in Madison, Wis. (Oct. 12). "There's a bunch of reasons".
Iowa now holds a 7-4 record and is trying to continue to play spoiler as they were able to knock off MI two weeks ago, and this week hoping for the same against No. 16 Nebraska. The Iowa Hawkeyes ground game is averaging 163.5 yards per contest, and Akrum Wadley leads the way with 861 yards and nine touchdowns.
This time around, Tommy Armstrong will be looking to get a little revenge for his Nebraska football teammates and himself.
"There have been so many good players come through here, it's an honor", Jewell said. "You know, the objective is having at least one more point than your opponent".
That's an Iowa team that also has a defense that has seemed rejuvenated itself the past two weeks after an embarrassing performance against Penn State. Lot of good complementary team football. They're hungry for a win against us. "We have a good feeling that Ryker is going to be able to do something". But anyway, that's not us. But Hart got a kill for the Gophers and the Huskers committed an attacking error to give Minnesota the 28-26 win. "It's for the conference championship, so we'll see what we've got". He's not going to be himself on his feet if he does play and getting him moving around would be huge for Iowa.
Iowa and Nebraska are neighbors, but it's not exactly an intense rivalry.
As a trio, the Cornhuskers coaching staff is more than willing to move each one of them around on defense, as they all possess skill sets that allow them to play up near the line of scrimmage or on the backend in a more "rangy" role. "We stopped them for negative yards or no yards, and one of those times, it leaks". Wisconsin then goes to title game because it has the edge in tiebreaker scenarios.