IOWA CITY — While plenty of trash talking was directed at him from Nebraska defenders Friday, Noah Fant had no interest in engaging in any verbal battles during Iowa’s 31-28 victory.

“It was chippy from their side,” Fant said. “I wasn’t looking to do any talking or anything like that, but (if) that’s their game plan, that’s what they wanted to come out and do, that’s what they tried to do.”

The junior tight end from Omaha South said the extracurriculars was a continuation of last year, something Nebraska coach Scott Frost and his staff have worked hard to eliminate this season.

“They were like that last year,” Fant said. “The flags might not have been thrown, but they were in my ear all last year, too. That’s just the way they play. Nothing wrong with that, it just makes the game (more fun).”

Fant wanted to be clear that not all the Huskers were more concerned with talking than tackling.

He mentioned Luke Gifford and Mick Stoltenberg as Huskers who were doing things the right way. Fant said he and Gifford were battling much of the day and he appreciated how Gifford approached the game.

“The guys that I actually knew pretty well were respectful on the field,” Fant said. “I know a couple of different guys on their defense I played against before. A couple of guys on their offense I’ve played against before.

“All those guys are great dudes. They played a hard game, they played a good game. Much respect for them.”

In the second quarter, Nebraska safety Aaron Williams got into a scrap with Fant, and both were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. That drive ended with Iowa’s second touchdown of the quarter and put the Hawkeyes ahead 21-10.

“I highly disagree with the flag that was thrown on me,” Fant said. “I was holding him off because he was trying to throw punches at me. It is what it is. Those guys thought that was their best tactic to come in and do, so that’s what they tried to do.”

Instead of paying attention to what some Huskers were saying, Fant said he was focused on what he needed to do to make sure 14 of his senior teammates went out winners in their final game at Kinnick Stadium.

“I just treat it like another game,” Fant said. “I don’t try to get too hyped up for it or anything like that. They’re another team in the Big Ten, and we’re trying to take a win from them.

“They came out in pregame and were on our side of the field. I’m not really interested in all that extra stuff, though. I’m more focused on the game. It’s more of a distraction than anything.”

While Fant caught one pass for 12 yards against the Huskers, his blocking on other plays helped spring teammates loose for big gains.

Running back Mekhi Sargent, a sophomore who played last season at Iowa Western, was the beneficiary of several Fant blocks.

One of the biggest was on a 32-yard run to the right Sargent, midway through the fourth quarter that took the ball to the Nebraska 20.

“I’m just trying to do my job and show that I can block,” Fant said. “It’s been questioned before, but I’m always working to improve there. There’s always somewhere you can improve. The best tight end in the NFL still has to improve on something in his blocking (and) running game.

“Defenses are going to game plan, and they’re going to show more attention to different people on the field. That will open other people up, and Mekhi took full advantage of that and found creases in the defense, and he made some really great runs out there.”

Fant heads into Iowa’s bowl game having caught 39 passes for 519 yards and seven touchdowns.

Though it took a field goal on the final play for Iowa to earn the victory, Fant said winning a close game at the end was something the Hawkeyes have struggled with in Big Ten play.

To get win No. 8 in that fashion was more important than beating his home-state team.

“We’ve been in situations like that a lot this year,” Fant said. “We haven’t been able to pull them out before, and it was about time we kind of anchored in and pulled one out at the end. It was a good feeling to break through that wall.

“I was pretty confident and comfortable that we were going to pull it out. I’m not really looking for last laughs. They can do all the talking they want. We just come out, we want to play and hopefully win the game.”

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