Two days before Friday's game, a meeting.

That, in itself, is nothing significant. It is a weekly ritual for the Husker offense. Usually a coach says his piece and everyone moves on with their business.

But the players soon realized this meeting wasn't going to be like the rest.

"Coaches met and said they couldn't find what to tell the team because it was the seniors' chance to tell the team," said senior offensive tackle Yoshi Hardrick. "I think Brandon Kinnie went first, and when he went I think everyone knew from then it was going to get very emotional."

Every senior on offense talked, telling of his personal journey to the program and what it meant to him. When walk-on running back Austin Jones spoke, he fell to the ground with emotion.

"Lot of tears," Hardrick said.

All that emotion and determination was necessary Friday, when the walking wounded Huskers gutted out a 20-7 win against Iowa, guaranteeing the program a fourth consecutive season with at least nine wins.

"That was a group of warriors today," Husker coach Bo Pelini said.

Rex Burkhead wore a walking boot Monday. Yet he carried the ball a school-record 38 times Friday. The Nebraska defense had given up 45 points just six days earlier at Michigan, yet that same group was a brick wall against Iowa, not allowing a score until 3:26 remained.

It was a team win, satisfying for all, but especially for an offense that fizzled a week ago, on the field for just 18 minutes, 39 seconds against Michigan.

Nebraska almost had the ball that long in the first half alone Friday. In outyarding the Hawkeyes 385-270, the Huskers ran 24 more plays and held the ball for almost 38 minutes.

A thrilling result for a team that heard from its share of critics this week.

"I think there's a lot of doubters," said offensive coordinator Tim Beck. "You play one bad game and all of a sudden you stink. So I think all our players and coaches, it was a challenge to them."

No one doubts Burkhead.

The junior running back's durability was nothing short of remarkable. There was a point early in the fourth quarter when Burkhead actually had more carries (37) than Iowa's offense had run plays (36).

"He's the guy you want to stand in the alley with," NU offensive line coach Barney Cotton said. "He's the guy that you want to give the ball when you need two (yards). He'll get you three. He's that guy. He might not be the fastest or the biggest or the prettiest, but he's that guy."

That guy had to be helped off the field after his 37th carry, one that tied Cory Ross for most carries in a game by a Husker.

Burkhead had just fought his way to the end zone on a 2-yard run, capping a 10-play, 80-yard drive that gave Nebraska a 20-0 lead with 11:25 left.

Coaches let Burkhead rest after that. But as Nebraska came out for its final offensive series, it was learned that Burkhead was just one carry from a school record for carries in a game.

Back in he came.

Taylor Martinez handed the ball to Burkhead. He kneeled for a 3-yard loss, the only time he lost yardage all day.

"I didn't want to have to do it in that fashion really," Burkhead said setting the record. "But after the first play, Marcel (Jones) and the rest of the linemen came up to me and told me they wanted me to do it for them because they would be part of it and they were seniors. So I said, ‘All right, I'll do it for you guys.'"

When it was over, he had 160 rushing yards and a date with an ice bath.

Combine Burkhead's reliability with the salty performance delivered by the Blackshirts and Iowa was in a world of hurt.

Iowa wide receiver Marvin McNutt came into the game averaging more than 112 yards receiving a game. But with Husker senior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard covering him, he had just four catches for 29 yards.

"That's just Fonzo being Fonzo, man," said Husker linebacker Lavonte David.

And David was typical David. As usual, the Butkus Award finalist led NU in tackles with eight. Oh, yeah, he also had a sack and forced a fumble that he recovered.

A special day for the senior, though the end rarely comes with dry eyes.

"During the seven-on-seven (pregame drill), I dropped some tears. I'm going to be honest and say it," David said. "Just looking around and seeing everyone looking at you knowing it's going to be your last game here. Just looking at the guys you go to war with, it's a great feeling."

An emotional week but one that ended with the Huskers thinking about a possible trip to Florida -- perhaps to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando or the Outback Bowl in Tampa.

How this 9-3 Husker season is viewed depends on the person, but senior safety Austin Cassidy stood before the media after the game full of pride. A big win shared with good friends is something to relish.

"It's been a wild ride," Cassidy said. "There's been some good times. There's been some bad times, but through it all, I had those guys in the locker room. They had my back and I had theirs. That's something that I'll never forget."