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Big Ten Countdown: 04 - The Heartland Trophy

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Wisconsin and Iowa have been playing each other in football since 1906. The series is as deadlocked as it can be at 42-42-2. The two boarder states have developed a good healthy rivalry but it took 98 years to get a trophy game between them. Could they have played for something sooner? Probably, but it is a good lesson for Nebraska fans. You don't necessarily need a rivalry trophy to have a good rivalry game. You don't want to force something that you'll regret later because it might take away from the actual game itself.

In 2004, Iowa won the first Heartland Trophy game. That year, the Big Ten race came down to Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. Because the Wolverines lost to Ohio State that day, the Badgers were playing for a Rose Bowl birth. Iowa and Michigan finished at the top of the Big Ten, but the Wolverines ended up going to the Rose Bowl due to their head-to-head win against the Hawkeyes.

Since 2004, the trophy series lead has never been more than two games. The Hawkeyes hold a one game advantage, 4-3, but the Badgers won a classic game in Iowa City last year and currently are the owners of the Bronze Bull.


Apparently, when a rivalry trophy game is being played in the Big Ten, the school that currently has the trophy keeps it on their sidelines and if the other team wins the game, they run over to the opposing bench and take the trophy back. I guess that's kind of cool, but one might think that it could cause a fight to break out on the sidelines.

It also raises another interesting question. Of all the rivalry trophy games in the Big Ten, Iowa-Wisconsin ranks up there as one of the most likely re-match possibilities in the Big Ten title game. Will rivalry trophies be on the line in Indianapolis? Should they be? That decision is up to the schools.

Big Ten associate commissioner Scott Chipman confirmed Thursday that the decision for traveling trophies rests with the schools. Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema said Wednesday the golden bull that now sits in Madison, Wis., would be at stake if the two schools meet for the title.