By ERIC OLSON, AP College Football Writer
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Spencer Petras’ 2-yard touchdown run with 2:58 left to play gave No. 17 Iowa their first lead, and the Hawkeyes came back from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter to beat Nebraska 28-21 Friday.
Iowa won the border battle for the seventh straight year, but not before Jermari Harris intercepted Logan Smothers’ pass at Iowa 2 with 43 seconds left.
The Hawkeyes (10-2, 7-2) have remained alive in the Big Ten West race and now need Minnesota to beat Wisconsin on Saturday to make it to the conference championship game next week in Indianapolis.
The loss was another blow for Nebraska (3-9, 1-8) in their worst season since 1957. The Cornhuskers, who will not go to the bowl for a fifth consecutive year, finished with losses in six consecutive games and eight of nine. Their nine losses totaled 56 points.
Tyler Goodson ran 156 yards on 23 carries to become Iowa’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Akrum Wadley in 2017.
Smothers, who was making his first start in place of injured Adrian Martinez, threw for 199 yards and ran 24 times for 64 yards and two touchdowns.
Iowa used a blocked punt for a touchdown, two field goals and a safety to erase a 21-6 deficit and tie 21-21 with 7:21 remaining.
Nebraska looked set for a decisive victory when Goodson eluded Huskers 6 and Smothers, making his first start in place of injured Adrian Martinez, led them by 94 yards in six games for a double-digit lead.
But Iowa, with the Big Ten’s least productive offense, was able to look to its defense and special teams to pull this one out.
Iowa shot at 21-16 early in the fourth when Joe Evans blocked William Przystup’s punt and Kyler Fisher grabbed it and ran it 14 yards for a touchdown.
In Nebraska’s next series, Smothers fumbled and Logan Lee of Iowa recovered at 46 for the Hawkeyes. The Huskers forced a three-and-out, but Tory Taylor’s punt pinned them to their 7. Smothers, under pressure, made a desperate pitch from his end. area and was called for an intentional grounding, resulting in safety.
Petras, who replaced Alex Padilla early in the second half, brought the Hawkeyes to Nebraska 26 in their next series and Caleb Shudak kicked his fourth basket of the game on 44 yards to tie the game.
The Hawkeyes forced a punt and Goodson broke a 55-yard run before Petras scored the go-ahead touchdown.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes, with all their offensive limitations, have managed to overcome a two-point deficit for the second time this season. The first was at home against Penn State.
Nebraska: The Huskers were once again unable to fend off an opponent and ended a season with nine losses for only the second time in program history. Frost is now 0-13 against ranked opponents, and the Huskers have lost 17 in a row to the Top 25 since 2016.
Iowa: Big Ten Championship game on Dec. 4 if Minnesota beats Wisconsin on Saturday. Otherwise, it’s time to prepare a bowl.
Nebraska plays Northwestern in Dublin, Ireland on August 27.
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