Iowa squanders a chance to win the Big Ten West in a 24-17 loss to Nebraska

Iowa’s chances of being in the Big Ten title game are now incredibly slim.

The Hawkeyes squandered a fantastic chance to play for the Big Ten title in a humiliating 24-17 home loss to Nebraska on Friday. Iowa trailed 17-0 at halftime, and its late comeback ultimately backfired when it turned the ball over on downs with just over two minutes left and when Alex Padilla was picked off with 42 seconds left.

Iowa simply had to beat a Nebraska team that came into the game at 3-8 to win the Big Ten West. Now Iowa is out of Big Ten West contention and Purdue is in the title game with a win over Indiana. If Purdue loses to Indiana, Illinois is in the running for the title with a win over Northwestern. Iowa needs both Purdue and Illinois to lose to get into the Big Ten title game via tiebreaker over the Boilermakers.

The Hawkeyes played much of the game without QB Spencer Petras after exiting the game in the first half with an apparent right shoulder injury. Padilla led the team to two touchdowns in the second half, but Iowa’s lack of tactical aggression was grating at times in the final 30 minutes.

Iowa’s first touchdown of the game came in the third quarter. With Nebraska leading 24-0 before the score, a two-point conversion would have cut the deficit to two possessions. Iowa instead elected to kick the extra point and cut the lead to 17 points and keep it a three-point game.

Minutes later, Iowa still trailed by 17 and drove into Nebraska territory and faced a 4th-and-12 with under a minute left in the quarter. Instead of going for a first down given a three-point deficit, Iowa elected to drive the ball back to Nebraska.

Did those decisions cost Iowa the game? Not entirely. But they certainly didn’t help Iowa’s chances of winning the game. After all, this is an Iowa offense that had scored 17 points just three times all season prior to Friday. Minimizing the number of possessions needed to tie the game would seem like a good idea.

But also not trailing 17-0 at halftime. An Iowa defense that stuck to its side of the deal most of the season had one of its worst halves of football at an inopportune time on Friday. And that could ultimately cost Iowa a chance to be a huge underdog to Michigan or Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.

Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla (8) fumbles as he is tackled by Nebraska linebacker Eteva Mauga-Clements (5) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Friday, November 25, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa.  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla (8) fumbles as he is tackled by Nebraska linebacker Eteva Mauga-Clements (5) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Friday, November 25, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Missouri 29, Arkansas 27

Missouri went to 6-6 and became bowl eligible with a 29-27 win over Arkansas.

Missouri sacked Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson six times while leading for all but 12 minutes of play. Arkansas took a 21–20 lead just before halftime, but Missouri scored to open the third quarter and never trailed again.

However, the Razorbacks had a chance to win the game late. Arkansas recovered the ball three times after kicking a field goal to cut Missouri’s lead to two with 12:40 left. But two of his drives ended in punts and the third resulted in a last lateral play as time expired.

As Mizzou heads to a bowl game due to the win, Arkansas is left bemoaning a disappointing season at 6-6. The Razorbacks were ranked as a midrange contender in the SEC West and instead finished with the same 3-5 conference record as Mizzou. Arkansas also lost to Liberty at home before losing to LSU by three. The Razorbacks finished just 1-4 in single-possession games in 2022.

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