Backup kicker Meeder’s field goal as time runs out gives No. 20 Iowa 13-10 win over Nebraska

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Marshall Meeder was within days of walking away from football when Iowa special teams coordinator LeVar Woods texted him to see if he wanted to become a Hawkeye.

Meeder had entered the transfer portal last spring after kicking three seasons at Central Michigan, and he was prepared to focus on finishing his engineering degree if no offer interested him.

After he barely cleared the crossbar with his first attempt of the season as time ran out Friday to beat Nebraska 13-10, Meeder was never more glad he told Woods yes.

Meeder’s opportunity for the 20th-ranked Hawkeyes came at the most pressure-packed moment after Drew Stevens had two field-goal tries blocked and had two kickoffs go out of bounds. When Meeder’s 38-yarder went through, teammates mobbed him and hoisted him on their shoulders.

He held the Heroes Trophy that goes to the winner of the rivalry game as the Hawkeyes celebrated at midfield while officials determined whether any time remained on the clock.

“It’s the same kick I’ve always made, just a little more pressure,” Meeder said. “I try not to let that get to me. I’ve done it a million times. No reason to mess something up now.”

Three of Iowa’s last five wins over Nebraska have come on late field goals. Miguel Recinos kicked a 41-yarder as time ran out in 2018 and Keith Duncan had a 48-yarder with one second left in 2019 that also denied the Huskers bowl eligibility.

“To lose in that fashion, I wouldn’t wish that on anybody,” Nebraska coach Matt Rhule said.

The Hawkeyes (10-2, 7-2, No. 17 CFP), who clinched the Big Ten West title last week, earned a 10th win for the fourth time since 2015 and eighth under 25th-year coach Kirk Ferentz.

The Cornhuskers (5-7, 3-6) lost four straight to end Rhule’s first season at Nebraska. Their bowl drought will stretch to seven years, the longest among Power Five schools.

Before Friday, Meeder hadn’t kicked in a game since Nov. 25, 2022. He missed an extra point on his final attempt for Central Michigan in a loss to Eastern Michigan.

Meeder said he was told at halftime that he would do the kicking the rest of the way following Stevens’ two blocked field goals.

“Drew just had a tough day today,” Ferentz said. “He’s been a really good performer for us and just so consistent that the fact, to have two kickoffs go out of bounds, I just felt like maybe it’s best to let him sit a little bit.”

Meeder was called on after Ethan Hurkett intercepted Chubba Purdy’s pass and ran it to the Huskers 37 with 15 seconds left.

Leshon Williams broke loose for 22 yards on first down before Deacon Hill ran left and took a 5-yard loss to set up Meeder’s try from the middle of the field.

“Iowa does a good job of keeping you ready whether you’re a backup or a starter,” Meeder said. “I felt ready from the day I got here. I was waiting for my opportunity and made the most of it.”

Iowa managed only 57 yards and two first downs in the second half but found a way to win a fourth straight game and go into next week’s Big Ten championship game coming off seven wins in its last eight games.

The Huskers ended a seven-game losing streak in the series last year, but they haven’t beaten Iowa in Lincoln since 2011.

The Huskers had a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but Tristan Alvano was wide left with a 44-yard try into a stiff north wind.

The Hawkeyes had four straight three-and-outs to open the second half and punted a fifth straight time before they got the ball back at their 27 with less than a minute left.

Then Tommi Hill intercepted Deacon Hill’s pass over the middle to give Nebraska the ball with 31 seconds left.

But when Hurkett stepped in front of Purdy’s pass on second down, Iowa was in position for Meeder with a gusty wind at his back.

“I’ve dreamed of that moment since I started kicking as a freshman,” he said.

THE TAKEAWAY

Iowa: The Hawkeyes keep finding ways to win these low-scoring games. Iowa has scored 15 or fewer points in four of its 10 wins, most by a team since 1991, according to OptaSTATS. Its 216 points for the season are by far the fewest of any team with nine or more wins.

Nebraska: Turnovers bit the Huskers again. They committed three against the Hawkeyes and have a Bowl Subdivision-high 31 for the season. Nebraska has lost 24 in a row against Top 25 opponents since 2016.

UP NEXT

Iowa: plays No. 2 Ohio State or No. 3 Michigan in Big Ten championship game on Dec. 2 in Indianapolis.

Nebraska: Season over.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football

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