(Video courtesy ESPN)
It took two years, but Nebraska will play for the Big Ten championship.
The Cornhuskers rode a dominating defensive effort to a 13-7 win over rival Iowa on Friday at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City to earn their shot at the Rose Bowl in just their second year in the league. The win ensures at least a share of the Legends Division title for Nebraska (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten), which will re-match Wisconsin (7-4, 4-3) from the Leaders Division next Saturday in Indianapolis for the league crown.
Nebraska, which left the Big 12 after the 2010 season, was torched in losses at UCLA and Ohio State earlier this season. But the team’s vaunted “blackshirts” defense lived up to its billing against the Hawkeyes (4-8, 2-6).
Iowa scored its lone touchdown on a 1-yard run by QB James Vandenberg. The Hawkeyes finished with 13 first downs, 200 total yards and turned the ball over twice.
Nebraska opened the game with a dominating drive, marching 75 yards on 16 plays, including 15 runs, to open a 3-0 lead and drain more than eight minutes off the clock. The Hawkeyes answered with one of their top drives of the season as they went 62 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-3 lead on Vandenberg’s scoring scamper.
Both teams failed to muster much offense despite good field position due to a gusting wind that severely limited punting and passing.
The Cornhuskers cut the Iowa lead on their opening drive of the second half thanks to a booming, 52-yard field-goal by K Brett Maher. This time, the Hawkeyes had no answer and Vandenberg threw an interception near midfield to lose all momentum.
Two drives later, the Cornhuskers cashed in.
Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead, who has been hampered by a left knee injury this season, dashed around the left side and barreled into the end zone for a three-yard rushing touchdown. A 13-7 lead was all the team needed.
Iowa’s last-gasp drive came with 3:31 remaining, but Vandenberg threw another interception near the 50-yard line and Nebraska ran out the clock.
(For more on the game, check out CBSSports.com's Eye on College Football blog)
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big Ten bloggers Dave Carey and Mike Singer, follow @CBSSportsBigTen.