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Huskers must wait to see if 5-7 record good enough for bowl bid after 28-20 loss to No. 3 Iowa


LINCOLN, Nebraska — The undisciplined play that hamstrung Nebraska earlier in the season returned in a big way against Iowa and might have cost the Cornhuskers a chance to play in a bowl in Mike Riley's first season as coach.

Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw four interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and four of the Huskers' eight penalties were personal fouls in a 28-20 loss to third-ranked Iowa on Friday.

The Hawkeyes (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten) completed their first undefeated regular season since 1922 and are bound for the Big Ten championship game, with an opportunity to go to the College Football Playoff.

The Huskers (5-7, 3-5) finished their third losing season since 2004 and lost a fourth home game for the first time since 1961.

Now they await word to see if there are enough six-win, bowl-eligible teams to fill the 80 postseason slots. If 5-7 teams are needed to round out the bowl field, Nebraska hopes to be one of them.

"To some people who say we're not good enough to go to a bowl, maybe they're right," defensive end Jack Gangwish said, "but I'd sure like to go."

The Huskers amassed 433 yards on an afternoon when a gusty north wind made for a 12-degree wind chill. They held Iowa to its second-lowest yardage total of the season, at 250, and ran 83 plays to the Hawkeyes' 44.

They couldn't overcome their mistakes, though.

PHOTO: Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard (16) throws before an NCAA college football game against Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard (16) throws before an NCAA college football game against Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Iowa's first touchdown was set up by two Nebraska personal fouls, its second was Parker Hesse's 4-yard interception return on a ball he tipped at the line of scrimmage, and its third was set up on punter Sam Foltz's late hit on Desmond King at the end of a punt return.

"Really shot ourselves in the foot," Riley said. "The production was crazy different, time of possession, they were 0 for 9 on third down. There was a lot of good stuff in the game. It was those other parts we couldn't overcome."

Iowa's Jordan Canzeri ran for 140 yards on 17 carries and broke long touchdown runs on back-to-back series in the third quarter. Canzeri's first touchdown went 29 yards and his second 68 yards for a 28-17 lead.

Armstrong's four interceptions were killers.

"I gave them seven points and put them in great position to, honestly, win the game," Armstrong said. "That's something I've got to fix and something I'm going to fix. Don't put the blame anywhere else. The team played well. I didn't. I felt like I let the seniors down."

The Hawkeyes, who clinched the Big Ten West Division title last week, went undefeated in the regular season for the fifth time in program history and first since going 7-0 in 1922. With at least one more game to play, Iowa has made a five-win improvement over 2014.

"If you watch our team and you like football and you like camaraderie and teammate, that's what I like watching," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "It's about the teamwork and relationships. When you get teams like that, that's when you have a change to do something."

As for the Huskers, they must wait to find out if any bowls in need of a 5-7 team.

"I told them we don't know what is going to happen," Riley said. "This team fought all year; there was never a game where they didn't compete in. I appreciate that about them. There is a lot of things we wish we could get back, there's a few plays here and there, but that's not life.

"I think it will all help us as we go forward. Whatever it is, whatever happens with this team, there is enough stuff here where we will be excited about working on it in the near future."

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