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This is a 12-to-1 countdown of Iowa’s most-appealing football games this season. No. 1 is the most-appealing. We started with No. 12 Ball State. Purdue was No. 11, Northern Iowa No. 10, Iowa State No. 9, Indiana No. 8, Illinois No. 7, Pittsburgh No. 6, Minnesota No. 5. All previous posts in this countdown can be found here.
No. 4: Northwestern (Nov. 1 in Iowa City)
This didn’t become an actual rivalry recently. It started in the mid-1990s. From 1974 to 1994, Iowa beat Northwestern 21 straight times. Rarely were any of those games competitive.
My sense is it’s still hard for Hawkeye fans to accept that Northwestern’s football program has been so good against Iowa since that streak ended two decades ago. Especially since the Wildcats have just eight winning seasons out of the last 20, while Iowa has 13.
But in head-to-head, it’s a little jarring. Northwestern is 10-7 against Iowa since 1995, 6-3 since 2005.
The explosion of joy in Kinnick Stadium last year when Iowa squeezed out its 17-10 overtime win over the Wildcats was partly from relief of not enduring the agony of a fifth defeat to the ‘Cats in the last six meetings as much as the thrill of victory.
But this week was a bad one for Northwestern. Real bad. On Wednesday, the news came out that running back Venric Mark is transferring and receiver Christian Jones is out for the season because of a knee injury. Mark is a special player. Jones had a team-high 54 receptions last year.
Had I known those two players would be out of the equation when I threw this list together ... I still would have kept this game at No. 4. It’s Northwestern-Iowa, a rivalry game without a trophy.
For that, I like it. Iowa plays Iowa State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota for trophies. It’s a little much, don’t you think? That’s one-third of your schedule.
Real rivalries only require history. If there’s an organic trophy involved, like Floyd of Rosedale for Iowa-Minnesota, beautiful. If not, don’t force it. Iowa
Iowa-Northwestern is a real rivalry, something in which a loss means real pain and a victory means something. Iowa center Austin Blythe recently cited the feeling after beating the Wildcats as a high moment in the season.
The Hawkeyes kept the Wildcats out of a bowl last year. As did the six other teams that beat Northwestern.
The Wildcats wrecked Iowa’s perfect season in 2009 by hurting Stanzi’s ankle on a perfectly legal tackle (on an odd Iowa play-call) in the end zone, and then beating the Hawkeyes in Kinnick, 17-10.
Since then, the home team has won every game in the series. And for the second-straight year, Northwestern-Iowa is in Iowa City.
Iowa was 9-0 when it played Northwestern in Kinnick five years ago. Let’s say the Hawkeyes get off to a rollicking start this season, have some pixie dust spread their way like they did against Northern Iowa and Michigan State and Indiana in 2009, and are 8-0 when the Wildcats come to town. Would anyone make a connection to ‘09?
What I meant is, would everyone make the connection to ‘09?
Oh, both teams don’t have a game the week before this year’s confrontation. Two weeks of preparation, two weeks of buildup if buildup is valid.
Yeah, this is one of the four most-appealing games on Iowa’s schedule.