World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel shares his immediate thoughts following the Huskers' 27-24 loss to Iowa.

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1. Don't put this one on Adrian Martinez running out of bounds. There were a lot of plays throughout the game that decided this one. And who’s to say what Luke McCaffrey would have done had he played more? Maybe A.J. Epenesa would have found a way to swallow him whole, too. Whatever. The quarterback position should be open come spring. That’s an incredible thing to write, considering how Martinez came into the season. But something happened to No. 2 this fall — injuries, shaky confidence, etc. He’s clearly not the same player he was a year ago. And McCaffrey has shown enough poise and playmaking that he needs a shot. There’s an energy when he’s in the game, the same energy Martinez brought last year. I’m not saying Martinez should be replaced. Maybe an open competition will get him going again.

2. I watched from the press box and also on the field during the fourth quarter, and I can say this: Iowa did not pound Nebraska physically. The Hawkeyes found a way to win, and kudos for that. But the narrative that Iowa is bigger and tougher than Nebraska doesn’t work anymore. The rushing yards Friday were 225-184, Iowa. When the Hawkeyes did gash NU on runs in the first half, they needed to create a mismatch by using a double-tight end formation on one side. There was a kickoff return for a touchdown and a trick play for another. Iowa made the clutch plays at the end. But physical pounding? Nope.

3. Playing in the Pinstripe Bowl or First Responder Bowl in Dallas is not going to change the world. But missing a bowl game for the third straight year hurts. The 15 practices are big, you bet. Every chance for further development and evaluation at this stage is big. But if NU had made a bowl game, there would have been a big celebration. Going to a bowl becomes part of a program’s identity. It adds to the overall expectation and confidence. This drought has gone way too long. There’s absolutely no excuse not to go next year.