Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee played some of the best football of his career and a much-maligned defense tightened up against one of the best rushing attacks in the nation. In the second half.
That was last week against Penn State.
Unfortunately for Nebraska, much of these team-best performances occurred with the contest essentially decided going into halftime. The Cornhuskers finished with a flurry of late scores to lose 56-44 after trailing 42-10 at halftime. Off a combination of Saquon Barkley explosive runs and Trace McSorley precision passes, Penn State did whatever it wanted against the lethargic Nebraska defense.
Nebraska (4-7, 3-5 Big Ten) lost its third consecutive game heading into its finale against visiting Iowa. And there really is only one topic left the future of third-year head coach Mike Riley.
"I'd like to focus on beating Iowa and do reflection on what went wrong, what needs or needed to be fixed as we've gone along, but in the moment, without looking back too much of all that, just trying to focus on this game," Riley said.
"I think we owe our kids the energy of this preparation."
Where the Nebraska defense was better in the second half last week, it's impossible to look past the unit's first-half performance, which started the game by giving up Barkley's 65-yard touchdown run.
Iowa will present a physical challenge with a strong rushing attack.
"Well that's our challenge," Riley said.
"There is no doubt that that is what Iowa will present. We will get a good dose of that and we are going to have to hold up against it and do well against it. We will have to have a good plan together and then guys are going to have to be ready to play physical because that is what it will be up front against them."