Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said at his Monday press conference that he's never coached a team as “beat up” as these Huskers.
Add quarterback Tommy Armstrong to the injury list. Armstrong rolled an ankle in the first quarter of Saturday's 23-20 win over Penn State. He did not return.
Pelini said Armstrong is “questionable” for Friday. Fifth-year senior Ron Kellogg would start in Armstrong's place. If Armstrong is unavailable, redshirt freshman walk-on Ryker Fyfe could be the backup.
That's because original starter Taylor Martinez's left foot is still not healthy enough for him to play, Pelini said. Martinez could be ready for the bowl game, which is why NU hasn't applied for a waiver so Martinez could travel to road games.
Guard Mike Moudy (shoulder) is doubtful. NU will again designate several other players as game-time decisions. That list includes offensive linemen Cole Pensick (knee), Jeremiah Sirles (knee), Brent Qvale and Jake Cotton (knee) and wide receiver Jamal Turner.
Several players still healthy enough to play haven't practiced much. That includes senior wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, who was backed down in workouts last week because of leg weariness. And running back Ameer Abdullah has limped off in several games on a hurt ankle before returning to action.
Pelini said Monday the spate of injuries are coincidental and not part of any trend within the team.
“Some things you just can't control,” Pelini said. “I've been around the game long enough to know there's some things that are just a little bit out of your control. Freak of nature. Something that is just part of the game that you have to deal with. It's unfortunate. Believe me, if there's something I thought we could prevent, you take every step to prevent it.
“We have however many MCL injuries in the last month. These are the same knee braces everyone is in across the country. Things happen. If anything, these knee braces do a good job of preventing them from being any worse.”
Players see potential for rivalry with Hawkeyes
Future Big Ten schedules have the Nebraska-Iowa game staying on the Friday after Thanksgiving at least through 2019, allowing the timing to join proximity as potential factors in fueling a rivalry.
Is it a rivalry?
“I mean, it's a very fairly new rivalry, if you want to call it that, so I don't know,” NU linebacker Michael Rose said Monday. “It could be, I think. Both teams are pretty competitive, pretty consistent with their approach. Geographically it makes sense.”
This Friday will be the third Husker-Hawkeye meeting since Nebraska joined the Big Ten. With the Legends Division title already claimed by Michigan State, this one will be for nothing other than bragging rights and bowl position.
Nebraska has won the most recent two games to go with a 5-1 record against the Hawkeyes between 1979 and 2000. Overall, NU holds a 28-12-3 edge.
“We want to make it a good game every year,” Abdullah said. “This is a new rivalry, but being border states you can really feel it growing more and more each year. I'm just happy I'm a part of it, and hopefully we can bring the Heroes Trophy to Lincoln again this week.”
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Video: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini at Monday's press conference
Video: Nebraska linebacker Michael Rose at Monday's press conference
Video: Nebraska quarterback Ron Kellogg at Monday's press conference
Video: Nebraska lineman Jeremiah Sirles at Monday's press conference
Video: Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah at Monday's press conference