IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — C.J. Beathard threw three touchdown passes and Iowa pummeled No. 17 Nebraska 40-10 on Friday, knocking the Cornhuskers out of Big Ten title contention and sending Wisconsin to the championship game.
LeShun Daniels Jr. ran for 158 yards and two scores and George Kittle caught two TD passes for the Hawkeyes (8-4, 6-3). They closed the regular season with three straight wins — two of them over ranked opponents.
Iowa broke open what was expected to be a tight game with a 75-yard TD run by Akrum Wadley and a 77-yard touchdown throw from Beathard to Riley McCarron in the first quarter. Kittle then put the Hawkeyes ahead 33-10 on a 6-yard TD catch with 11:13 left.
“We played as good as we’ve played all year,” Beathard said. “It just shows the fight and the resilience of this team.”
Tommy Armstrong started for Nebraska (9-3, 6-3) despite a balky hamstring and was just 13 of 35 passing for 125 yards.
The Cornhuskers, who entered November as a legitimate playoff contender, were outscored 102-13 in their last two road games.
Nebraska: With so much to play for, it’s hard to believe that the Cornhuskers played so, so poorly. Nebraska gave up three plays of over 50 yards, and Armstrong was inconsistent at best in his return. The Huskers have lost three of their last four to Iowa, a fate sealed when they ran into Iowa kicker Keith Duncan on a field goal try in the fourth quarter — allowing the Hawkeyes to go up 23 a few plays later.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes didn’t make it to the Big Ten title game either. But they did go 6-3 in the league, an impressive feat for a team that lost to North Dakota State of the FCS in its final nonconference game. Iowa also made its case for a high-profile bowl, which looked iffy to say the least after losing by 27 points at Penn State.
Nebraska likely stays in the Top 25. But the Huskers could find themselves drop a few spots after their second straight poor showing on the road. Iowa, which reached as high as 13th earlier this year, could sneak back after beating the Huskers and Michigan in November.
Nebraska will head to a bowl game having already improved by four games in 2016.
Iowa will find out which bowl game it will play in next Sunday.
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