Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, November 27, 2015

Lots on the line today for Iowa as it plays at Nebraska.

The unbeaten Hawkeyes-who already have wrapped up the Big Ten West–need to beat the Cornhuskers to remain in contention for a playoff spot. Iowa (11-0) cracked the College Football Poll on Tuesday for the first time, ranking No. 4 behind No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Oklahoma.

If Iowa wins out vs. a Nebraska team that is coming off a bye and then wins the Big Ten title game vs. Michigan State, Ohio State or Michigan, it almost assuredly will make the playoffs. Not bad for a program picked to finish middle-of-the-pack in the Big Ten West coming off a 7-6 season that had the natives in Iowa City restless.

?We?ve got a whole heck of a lot on the line,? center Austin Blythe said. ?At the same time, it starts with Nebraska. And we have to go through those guys.?

The Hawkeyes, aiming for the program?s first unbeaten regular season 1922, won the last time they visited Lincoln in 2013, taking a 38-17 verdict. Last year, Iowa blew a 24-7 third-quarter lead to the Huskers en route to losing in overtime, 37-34.

If Iowa loses to Nebraska, its playoff hopes are probably toast-even if the Hawkeyes win the Big Ten championship game. The issue for Iowa: strength of schedule, which is 68th, the worst of any team in the Top 14 of the CFP poll. Iowa played in a Big Ten West that isn?t loaded with top teams. And cross-division foes Maryland and Indiana did nothing to augment the Hawkeyes? resume. The Hawkeyes? best wins: at Wisconsin and vs. Northwestern. Now, it all comes down to today in Lincoln.

?From this point on, every game is an elimination game for us,? Blythe said.


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