It’s been 4 years since the Iowa football team beat Wisconsin. With both teams’ seasons on the line Saturday, can the Hawks put recent history behind them?
It didn’t always use to be like this, but the past this decade’s games would have you thinking differently if that’s all you have watched of the Heartland Trophy Game between the Iowa football team and the Wisconsin Badgers.
That’s because the Iowa football team has one win this decade, a 10-6 slugfest in Madison during the Hawk’s memorable undefeated 2015 season. Otherwise, it’s been six losses.
Nate Stanley hasn’t beaten Wisconsin, and save for a few redshirt seniors, nobody on this team knows what the feeling of beating Wisconsin.
And the Hawks have only themselves to thank for that. In essence, they created the current Wisconsin Badgers.
From 1977 to 1996, the Wisconsin Badgers did not defeat the Iowa football team a single time. After several years of resurrecting Wisconsin from the bottom of the sewage, Barry Alvarez (a Hayden Fry disciple) took down his former mentor 13-10 in Madison. The coaches have changed, but the tradition of these two programs lived on through the next two decades, and it all stemmed from Hayden Fry.
After Alvarez stepped down from coaching, he brought in former Iowa football player Bret Bielema (who played under Fry) who took this Badger program to new heights just as Kirk Ferentz was establishing himself as one of the most respected head coaches not just in the Big Ten but in the nation.
Bielema is gone and Madison native Paul Chryst is now the head coach, but the program identity that Barry Alvarez established twenty years ago lives on, and that’s what makes this game so exciting for fans.
It’s a blood bath between two programs with similar identities. The team that establishes the run the best is the probable winner, and despite struggling in the run game this season, the Iowa football team desperately needs to win this game with it.
They need it to still have a shot at the Big Ten West title, and senior quarterback Nate Stanley needs to win this game if he wants to create a long-lasting legacy.
Can the Iowa football team give Kirk Ferentz his eighth win against the Hawkeye’s sister program (that’s not a diss, just that these programs are so similar), and can Nate Stanley get this monkey off his back? Will the Hawks snap a three-game losing streak and take home the Heartland Trophy?
We’ll find out soon enough as these two teams meet for 93rd time Saturday in Madison.