Nebraska wrestling is eager to bounce back from its first dual loss of the season.
To do that, though, the Huskers must go through one of the most dominant teams in the country in their home arena.
Nebraska, which dropped from second to seventh in the coaches poll after last Sunday’s 25-18 loss at Wisconsin, faces No. 1 Iowa at 8 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s a great environment,” coach Mark Manning said. “My guys have to be prepared, ready to pull the trigger, ready to let it all hang out. We have to do the best job preparing technically, physically — getting them mentally ready to go — to trust your practice and trust your training.”
Iowa is 6-0 in duals this season, outscoring opponents a combined 212-18. The Hawkeyes defeated Wisconsin 32-3 Dec. 1, then earned a pair of 41-0 wins last week against Indiana and Purdue.
Six of Iowa’s probable starters are unbeaten, and five are first or second in the InterMat rankings — two-time national champion Spencer Lee is first at 125, Pat Lugo (first at 149), Austin DeSanto (second at 133), Alex Marinelli (second at 165) and Michael Kemerer (second at 174).
While all 10 of Iowa’s wrestlers are ranked in the top 10, nine Huskers are ranked.
And NU nearly dug itself out of a deep hole at Wisconsin. The Badgers won five of the first six matches for a 22-5 lead before Mikey Labriola (174), Taylor Venz (184) and Eric Schultz (197) strung together wins to make it 22-18. But Wisconsin won the heavyweight match, which was scoreless through two periods, to take the dual.
When NU faces Iowa, matchups between top-10 opponents are expected in four weight classes.
One of the best matchups should be at 165, where Marinelli faces fifth-ranked Isaiah White, who lost for the first time last week. Marinelli defeated White 3-0 last February.
At 174, Kemerer is ranked second while Labriola is sixth; at 141, NU’s CJ Red (ninth) will square off with Max Murin (sixth); and at 184, Venz (fifth) will face Abe Assad (10th).
Iowa has won the past 10 meetings with Nebraska. NU’s last series win came in 2006.