For all the talk about Nebraska coach Bo Pelini's tenuous job status, his team rallied from 17 down in the third quarter Friday to upend host Iowa, 37-34, in overtime in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The Huskers improved to 9-3, but losses in their past two games, to Wisconsin and Minnesota, had restarted the questions about Pelini's job security. While Nebraska has won at least nine games in each of Pelini's seven seasons, it also has lost four games each year. Whether the Huskers can avoid four losses this season will be decided in a bowl game.
For a while Friday, it seemed as if the Huskers' recent issues again would cost them. Inconsistent offense and special-teams blunders helped Iowa take a 24-7 lead midway through the third quarter, and things looked bleak for Nebraska. But two TD passes from Tommy Armstrong Jr. and a punt-return TD by electrifying freshman De'Mornay Pierson-El -- his third of the season -- enabled Nebraska to take a 28-24 lead with 12:06 left in the game.
Iowa retook the lead with 1:49 left on a TD pass, but the Huskers marched 69 yards in eight plays and tied the score at 31 on a field goal by Drew Brown. Armstrong got away with some rainbow passes on the final drive that weren't knocked down by Iowa defensive backs, who had an uneven day. Armstrong finished just 12-of-27 but for 202 yards and four TDs.
"That is one of the gutsiest performances I've ever seen," Pelini told reporters about Armstrong, who left the game in the second quarter with a leg injury before returning.
Armstrong's fourth TD pass came on the game-winner in OT to senior Kenny Bell, who had two scoring receptions.
Huskers senior tailback Ameer Abdullah rushed for 106 yards on 13 carries; it was his seventh 100-yard performance of the season but his first in four games.
Nebraska won despite being without star defensive end Randy Gregory and two starting offensive linemen.
Iowa, meanwhile, dropped to 7-5. It's the fifth season in a row the Hawkeyes -- who committed four turnovers Friday -- have lost at least five games.