The Iowa football team takes on Nebraska in the 9th iteration of the Heroes Game series, but is this game actually a rivalry game for either team?
Before I begin, this is not a Nebraska hate article. Believe me, there will be plenty of those throughout the week. This is more of an examination of this rivalry game as a whole. Is this “rivalry game” between the Iowa football team and Nebraska an actual rivalry game?
Geographically speaking, yes. But you need more than geography to make a game a rivalry game.
To me, the whole thing feels incredibly forced by the Big Ten.
Look at the trophy. It’s about as ugly of a rivalry game trophy as I can imagine, and it has little history to go along with it (as can be expected considering this “rivalry” started this decade.
And who came up with the rivalry game name of “Heroes Game”. Yes, it’s a really cool opportunity to honor heroes in both the Nebraska and Iowa community, especially on the traditional Black Friday (which Nebraska did aptly ruin for 2020 and 2021), but again, where is the history.
Prior to joining the Big Ten, the Iowa football team and Nebraska did face off quite a bit. 41 times to be exact. Only 6 of those games, however, came after the Harry Truman administration, and it also came during one of the most dominant runs by any college football team ever. The scores from four of those losses were 57-0, 42-7, 42-7, and 42-13.
And not to pick on Nebraska but since they joined the Big Ten, they haven’t exactly done anything worth noting. Aside from their two wins during the James Vandenberg era, Nebraska has just one win in their last six shots at the Hawks.
Now the experience below from a few years ago, but even the players don’t feel amped about this game. It’s just not in the same realm as Iowa State, Wisconsin, or even Minnesota.
If there is one lesson to be learned here, it’s that you can’t force rivalry games. These things need to grow organically, and there needs to be good football played on both sides.
Now, while I don’t think it’s a rivalry yet in the truest sense, I do think it’s well on its way to getting there, and we can thank Nebraska for that. As we mentioned in a previous article, some of those Nebraska fans have been living in the 90s for quite some time and seem to have lost their sense of reality. Moreover, the continual lack of respect shown by the Nebraska football program towards the Iowa football program is only going to continue to build more animosity between the two teams and give it that “rivalry atmosphere”.
And if Nebraska could actually return to being a relevant team in college football, that would be the icing on the cake for this end of year matchup as it could (in the future) be a big game in deciding the Big Ten West.