Iowa fans hang from a goal post after the Hawkeyes' 45-21 win over Minnesota, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2002, at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Jim Slosiarek)
Big Ten football is filled with great rivalries, most of which border on respect such as Michigan-Ohio State and Indiana-Purdue to name a few.
There also are schools that you loathe to play. Maybe you live in a market near a school that has beaten your squad, say, five of the last six times and you hear about it constantly. Or you don’t like to drive to a certain location because opposing fans might leave you a reminder on your windshield. Maybe you got knocked down by rowdy students between the third and fourth quarters at a large stadium located about 3 hours northeast from Iowa City.
Or you’re harnessing all of your contempt for a rivalry that will conclude the regular season’s final weekend.
If this category included all rivalries, I’d start and end with just one: Missouri-Kansas. I worked for six years along the Missouri-Kansas border in St. Joseph, Mo. I cringed the day before a football or basketball game between the teams because I knew fans of either team would blame my former news organization for loving the other. (For the record I was — and remain — completely neutral.) I had one older lady from central Missouri call to tell me she refused to learn how to spell Kansas as a kid and never would. At least once per year former Confederate Col. William Quantrill’s name is evoked by Kansas fans in contempt. Legendary Missouri basketball coach Norm Stewart refused to allow his team to stay in Lawrence the night before a game. (The Tigers always stayed in Kansas City.)
Anyway, I digress. This blog site and post pertains to Iowa athletics. There are 12 schools listed here regarding Iowa football rivalries. This isn’t a feel-good list of “we like playing you, yada, yada, yada.” This vote is “I hate going there, I hate playing them and I REALLY hate losing to them.”
Here’s a rundown of choices:
Minnesota — Iowa has played the Gophers more than any other school. The teams compete for the Floyd of Rosedale travelling trophy, which began after several contentious episodes between the programs in the 1930s. Iowa might rank highly on Minnesota’s list after 2002, when Hawkeye fans tore down the goalposts at the Metrodome after finishing the Big Ten season unbeaten. Last year, the Gophers’ upset ended the Hawkeyes’ hopes of playing on New Year’s Day.
Wisconsin — The rivalry now sits at 42-42-2. The programs boast a comparable offensively philosophy, pose a similar national profile and scrap for recruits almost man-for-man. Iowa ended Barry Alvarez’s coaching career in 2005 with a 20-10 win. Last year, Wisconsin won 31-30 in the series’ epic game, which propelled the Badgers to the Rose Bowl. Iowa never seemed to recover.
Northwestern — The Wildcats have beaten Iowa in excruciating fashion five of the last six years. In 2008, Iowa led by 14 points, but had five turnovers in a five-point loss. Iowa led 10-0 in 2009, then Ricky Stanzi was sacked in the end zone and suffered a regular-season-ending ankle injury. The Wildcats clawed back to upset 9-0 Iowa. Last year, Iowa led 17-7 in the fourth quarter but an interception switched momentum and Northwestern won 21-17.
Nebraska— There’s no on-field vitriol quite yet. The teams played twice early in Kirk Ferentz’s tenure before the Hawkeyes regained their stature. But both programs’ fan bases are starting to chirp at one another, whether it’s randomly in Omaha, on a team message board or at a columnist who covers one of the two squads. Is there loathing right now? That’s for you to decide.
Illinois— The schools won’t play again until at least three years after the world ends, according to the Mayans. And they haven’t played since before Barack Obama was elected president. But the programs show a general disdain for one another dating to the 1950s and continues today in recruiting battles.
Purdue — Well, there’s always Kyle Orton, the Iowa native who went to West Lafayette and torched the Hawkeyes one year. The Big Ten ordered the schools to become rivals in last year’s divisional shotgun wedding. Is that enough to make a fan loathe the other school?
Indiana— The Hoosiers could have ranked up there had some fluky plays gone their way in Iowa City in 2009. Indiana had unbeaten Iowa on the ropes before a miraculous interception return by Tyler Sash kept the Hawks in the game. Then a dizzying fourth-quarter rally continued Iowa’s win streak. But Indiana nearly pulled off another shocker last year in Bloomington. Loathing? More like indigestion.
Michigan — The trend between the programs is the Wolverines would pummel the Hawkeyes into wet cat food for several years, then Iowa would post an iconic win, and so forth. Well, Iowa will attempt to beat Michigan for a record third straight time this year. I’m not sure there’s enough contempt, unless you played for the 1991 Iowa team that was denied a Rose Bowl opportunity.
Michigan State — The loathing in this rivalry is a little one-sided and not from Iowa fans. Iowa blasted previously unbeaten Michigan State last October, handing the Spartans their only regular-season loss and denying them a national title shot (or at least a Rose Bowl). Iowa beat the Spartans on the game’s final play in 2009 to remain undefeated. The recruiting game often pits the Legends Division rivals against one another as well.
Ohio State — Pretty much every Big Ten school loathes the Buckeyes for their success and now for their rule-bending demeanor. Iowa is no different. The Buckeyes cost the Hawkeyes a Rose Bowl in 2009 with an overtime win. Last year, the Buckeyes scored a late touchdown to beat Iowa by three. And there’s the 1990 meltdown as well. Ohio State has beaten Iowa 12 of the last 13 meetings, dating to 1991. Not much love there.
Penn State — From Iowa’s perspective, there are few reasons to loathe Penn State. The Hawkeyes have rolled the Nittany Lions in seven of the last eight meetings. Iowa knocked off a 9-0 Penn State on a last-second field goal in 2008. Iowa’s defense bludgeoned Penn State in primetime in 2009 and 2010. Iowa has won in an overtime shootout (45-38) and a defensive slugfest (6-4). Iowa, however, likely ranks at the top of Penn State’s loathing list for all of those reasons.
Iowa State— The school up west-northwest is one Iowa fans try to ignore 51 of 52 weeks but just can’t. Cyclone fans live in Cedar Rapids, split the Des Moines market and are the vocal minority that chirps like a whippoorwill when Iowa State beats Iowa. The Hawkeyes won 15 straight in the series under Hayden Fry, but the series is much closer since 1998 with the Cyclones holding a 7-6 lead. There’s some definite loathing from one another, but will Iowa fans vote for the school they’d like to keep irrelevant? That’s the real question.