Nebraska vs Iowa is a Budding Rivalry
December 19, 2019
The Midwest is known for college football and its rivalries. Ohio State-Michigan, Michigan-Michigan State, Nebraska-Oklahoma, Kansas-Missouri, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, Iowa-Iowa State, Iowa-Minnesota, Wisconsin-Minnesota all come to mind. There is another relatively new rivalry though in this part of the country, and it is gaining steam rather quickly. The hate is growing. That game is the Nebraska Cornhuskers against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Nebraska leads the all time series over Iowa 29-18, but is currently on a five game loosing streak to the Hawkeyes, and is just 3-6 against Kirk Ferentz as members of the Big Ten. At first, nobody thought it would turn into a heated rivalry, especially after Nebraska won the first two games of the new series. Then, in 2013, Iowa won the heroes trophy for the first time, and Bo Pelini swung a hat at an official. The next year, in Iowa City, the Huskers came back dramatically to win in overtime. After the game ended, then Nebraska athletic director Sean Eichorst fired Pelini despite the win, infamously saying, “we had to evaluate were Iowa was.”
Since then, the rivalry was taken off, especially because Nebraska has not beaten Iowa since that infamous comment. In 2015, Iowa finished off a perfect regular season in Lincoln by beating Mike Riley’s first Husker team 28-20, despite being outgained by over 200 yards. In 2016, Nebraska came to Iowa City with a chance at winning the West division, and Iowa crushed Nebraska 40-10. After the game, then Nebraska defensive coordinator Mark Banker said, ““I bet their practices are like a bloodbath, because both sides of the ball kind of emulate that.” Hawkeye fans will not forget that soon. The next year, the day before Riley was fired, Iowa beat Nebraska 56-14 in Lincoln.
But it has been the last few years were the rivalry has really taken off. Last season, Nebraska started 0-6, but had played much better late in the year. Before the game last year, then junior linebacker Mohammed Barry said, “we do not like, Iowa.” Iowa offensive coordinator Brain Ferentz said, “we recruit against a couple schools that talk about their pipeline, I’m thinking of one a little bit west of Omaha that talks about their pipeline. I think they’ve had like two guys drafted in two years, so I’m not sure how much of the pipeline the coaches have contributed to. But perception is reality in recruiting, so you work against that a little bit.” Pre-game in Iowa City last year featured a fight, and Iowa beat Nebraska 32-29 on a last second field goal.
This season, the Iowa game was huge for the Huskers, whose season had been a spectacular failure. They sat at 5-6, needing a win to reach a bowl game for the first time in three years, and maybe try and salvage some of the season. Before this year’s contest, former Iowa tight end George Kittle trashed talked Nebraska on “Sports-Center with Scott Van Pelt.” The game itself was particularly chippy, with the Hawkeyes getting flagged for multiple personal fouls. The game ended exactly like last years game, Iowa kicked a game winning field goal in the waning seconds to take it 27-24. The Hawkeyes kicker mocked the Husker sideline after he made the kick.
Nebraska fans like to make fun of Kirk Ferentz’s contract, which gives the head Hawkeye a $500,000 bonus for eight wins, and they like to say that Iowa loves mediocrity and accepts it. They also point to the number of national titles and historical relevance that Iowa has compared to Nebraska. Hawkeye fans like to mention that they have dominated the Huskers in the Big Ten era and have been the better program this millennium.
One thing is for sure, Iowa-Nebraska is one heated rivalry now, the hate is plentiful, and next year’s game in Iowa City will surely not disappoint.