Iowa football: Understanding the hate for Northwestern

(Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images) /

Despite generally being the less talented team, Northwestern has made the Iowa football team miserable. Here’s a history lesson on this Big Ten series.

When people ask me which college football teams I hate the most, I usually get a quizzical look when I mention Northwestern in the same breath as Nebraska or Wisconsin. Unless you’re an Iowa football fan, you wouldn’t get it

That’s because, historically speaking, Northwestern has been a model for crap. Their winning percentage .451 ranks 112th out of 130 teams, and they have won just five bowl games in the history of the program. There are many more stats I could point out to display the ineptitude of the Northwestern Wildcat program, but I think you get my point.

When it comes to the Iowa football program though, Northwestern has us figured out.

Since Pat Fitzgerald took over as head coach of Northwestern, the Wildcats have an 8-5 record against the Iowa football program including a 3-0 record in the last three matchups.

The thing to note though is that typically haven’t been the better team. They just out-Iowa Iowa.

They play sound, mistake-free football and they take it to Iowa.

But the real reason why I personally hate Northwestern is that in 2009, the Iowa football team had arguably their best team ever. It was the Orange Bowl-winning squad led by Ricky Stanzi, but it could have been even bigger. It could have been a national title appearance for the Iowa football team who entered the game against Northwestern undefeated at 9-0.

They left the game with their first loss and without Ricky Stanzi who injured his ankle after throwing just nine passes. Backup quarterback James Vandenberg came in and proceeded to go 9 of 27 while the Iowa football team failed to score any more points. The following week against #10 Ohio State in Columbus, a Vandenberg-led Hawks team nearly pulled off the upset but fell short.

Imagine if Northwestern doesn’t knock Stanzi out?

The following year, the Hawks were ranked 13th heading into their game against Northwestern and proceeded to lose that game and drop their next two to finish 7-5 and unranked in the regular season.

Last year, after dropping a heartbreaker to Penn State and a close game to Purdue, Northwestern came into Kinnick and punched the Iowa football team square in the mouth en route to winning the Big Ten West.

The Hawks may hold a 50-27-3 advantage over Northwestern, but the past decade and a half have really stung. Northwestern always seems to be just waiting there ready to spoil a good Iowa football season.

Next. Wisconsin loss doesn't change Iowa's path. dark

With the Hawks firmly in contention for a Big Ten West title, I sure hope history plays out a bit differently as they head to Evanston to take on the 1-5 Wildcats.