This is your obligatory “Iowa is a rival” article.
A couple of days ago Husker Mike brought up the fact that he doesn’t want Iowa seen as our rival because they give us nothing to aspire to. He has an excellent point.
Iowa has beaten our beloved Huskers the last three times in a row without much to show for it. They won the Big Ten West in 2015 only to lose to Michigan State in the conference championship game. They were then demolished in a Rose Bowl where the most memorable moment was the Stanford band making fun of Iowa and their cows. They’ve gone to two bowl games over the last two years, losing to Florida 30-3 in the Gator Bowl in 2016 and beating Boston College 27-20 in the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl. If you want to count that Pinstripe Bowl Trophy as a memento of stature go ahead, Iowa fan, but it’s only a matter of making my point – there’s very little to aspire to in beating Iowa and being happy about it.
I brought this up on our podcast as we recorded last night. Hoss countered Mike’s argument by stating how much we hate Iowa and that because of that hate they most certainly deserve to be considered a rival. He makes an excellent point as well.
We knew who our rival was throughout all of our years of Big Eight football. We played Oklahoma for championships more times than we did not. When the two teams played it was for a chance to win the conference championship for a trip to the Orange bowl and if not a shot at the national title then certainly a chance for a high-ranking. Oklahoma made us aspire to something greater.
Let’s not kid ourselves about the Sooners. There was plenty of hate involved. That’s been glossed over in recent years as the “good old days” are always romanticized later by those that lived through them. We hated Barry Switzer because he was a cheating son of a bitch. He overlooked bad behavior by his players and cheated so much that it eventually did him in as a coach. It’s only now that years have past that we look at him as some loving, upright grandfather figure.
It’s perfectly fine for us to see Iowa as a rival of hate. I can’t stand them, and I’m not 100% sure why. Perhaps it’s a disdain for their acceptance of constant mediocrity. Perhaps it’s because I hate the combination of black and gold. Perhaps it’s because 90% of the state smells like hog manure as I drive through it on my way to Nebraska. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above.
It’s okay if you see Wisconsin as a rival of aspiration. Wisconsin is where we want to be in the next few years. They are in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten West. Nebraska fans want us to be the team that everyone else looks to as the team they have to beat to win our division. When we reach this point on a constant basis, perhaps we will no longer see Wisconsin as a rival. Barry Alvarez built their program to where it is now. Perhaps the Badgers will fade back into the dung heap they were before Alvarez when he leaves.
Most likely Iowa will still be there as the object of our hatred. It’s only natural, given the border between us and the fact that most Iowegians are insufferable sunsabitches. There was another black and gold team we used to play with a comparable attitude; that being that they’re all better than us. At least Colorado had the Rockies. All Iowa has is better dirt, and they’re ruining it with hog shit all over the place.
It’s okay to have two rivals; Iowa for hate and Wisconsin for aspiration. The concept might act as an olive branch to the older Husker fans who still hang onto Oklahoma as our only rival. You can approach them with the idea being that it takes two teams to replace the Sooners as a rival as Oklahoma gave us both hate and aspiration in a single opponent.
You could get them to open up long enough to ask them a simple question.
Of course you do.
They deserve it. They’re our rival.