Published Friday, November 23, 2012 AT 9:37 PM / Updated at 9:37 PM
Nebraska-Iowa: Tracking the offense, defense
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

World-Herald staff writer Jon Nyatawa takes a look at key players, plays and more on both sides of the ball during Nebraska’s 13-7 win over Iowa.

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TRACKING THE OFFENSE

NU star: Rex Burkhead. The senior returned for his first game action in more than a month to help the Huskers retake the lead and seal the win. He finished with 69 yards on 16 carries, scoring the go-ahead touchdown.

Highlight: Burkhead’s 3-yard touchdown run with 3:10 left in the third quarter. Nothing too flashy. He found the running lane and powered through it to put Nebraska up 13-7.

Busted play: Quarterback Taylor Martinez and fullback Andy Janovich collided in the backfield, a miscommunication that resulted in a costly second-quarter fumble.

Our take: After an efficient opening drive, Nebraska stalled out in familiar fashion, hurting itself with its own mistakes. Martinez wasn’t himself, and the well-coached Hawkeyes refused to make it easy for the junior QB. The wind didn’t help, either. But Martinez connected with tight end Ben Cotton a couple of times over the middle to help open up space on the ground in the second half. The Huskers held on from there.

TRACKING THE DEFENSE

NU star: Eric Martin. He provided a much-needed spark in the first half and kept the pressure on in the second. Martin finished with seven total tackles, three of which came behind the line of scrimmage. He also had a sack, a forced fumble and two quarterback hurries.

Highlight: It was first-and-10 and Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg was all alone in the backfield. Nebraska decided to blitz. And it worked. A quick throw was intercepted by Alonzo Whaley with 2:11 left, and the Huskers sealed the win.

Busted play: There weren’t many. One was awfully close. But credit Daimion Stafford for making a touchdown-saving breakup. Somehow, NU had left senior tight end Zach Derby wide open in the end zone in the second quarter.

Our take: The Huskers settled in after getting gashed to start the game. It was almost if they had to first get a sampling of Iowa’s conservative approach before taking over. The Hawkeyes gained 62 yards on their first drive of the game — and managed just 138 the rest of the afternoon. Iowa had four possessions in the fourth quarter but didn’t get a first down on those drives until its second-to-last offensive snap. Vandenberg threw an interception on the very next play.

About Jon Nyatawa

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008. He and his laptop, cell phone, tape recorder, pen and notebook all live in Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter: @JonNyatawa. Email him here: jon.nyatawa@owh.com. He welcomes feedback.