About the author: Tom Shatel is the sports columnist for the Omaha World-Herald.
Raise it up. Knock down the invisible wall, the Great Wall of Council Bluffs, that’s existed between our two states forever.
Let’s get to know each other.
Nebraska and Iowa will play football Friday. There’s some history there. Hayden Fry, sunglasses and all, beat Nebraska in 1981 on the way to his first Rose Bowl. Eric Crouch ran over some poor Hawkeye defensive back in 1999 on the way to the Fiesta Bowl.
You took Larry Station. We got Trev Alberts and Kyle Vanden Bosch. We’ll call it even.
But for years, Huskers-Hawkeyes was the game nobody bothered to play, because, frankly, nobody cared. Iowa looked to the east, Nebraska obsessed over Oklahoma. It looked like a natural, like if could build a stadium in Omaha, this could be Oklahoma-Texas, with fried butter and all the trimmings. But that game was for dreamers.
Then a dreamer named Jim Delany changed all that, in 2010, and here we are, getting ready for our first Corn Bowl, or Heroes Game. Can’t someone go down to the hardware store and find a little brown jug?
There is so much for us to learn about the Big Ten. So many traditions. Hope you like playing the day after Thanksgiving. That’s a nod from the Big Ten to Nebraska tradition, and it’s much appreciated. It’s a cool day to play. There aren’t many games on. Most people, husbands, watch it on a TV at Target while their wives do the Oklahoma Drill on aisle five.
We think this will work. We’re willing to give Iowa a try. One thing you need to know about Nebraskans: they’re snobs when it comes to their tradition, and that’s snobs in a good way, of course. We’re used to Barry Switzer and Billy Sims and Jamelle Holieway and big games with the voice of God, otherwise known as Keith Jackson, up in the booth. When OU dumped Nebraska for Texas, Colorado eagerly jumped in. It didn’t work. Nebraska never considered the Buffs a rival.
That’s something else you should know: Husker fans aren’t really into this yet. Husker fans will allow that Iowa knows basketball and invented the sport of wrestling, but there’s no way Hawkeye fans have the passion or tradition of Nebraska. Never mind that NU’s last BCS bowl was 10 years ago, or last conference title was in 1999. Husker fans can recite the rest of the proud history, and probably will, if you ask.
My hunch is that Iowa fans want this one more, for those reasons. The Hawks in western Iowa and in Omaha are tired of hearing the stories of Nebraska glories past. I’m sure you’d love to introduce yourselves, get Nebraska’s attention. The way to do that would be to give the Huskers a fourth Big Ten loss and send them to the Meineke Car Crash Bowl.
Will it happen? Nebraska can’t sleep on this one. James Vandenberg can fling it and Marvin McNutt can catch it and the Hawks can run the ball. The Huskers have some good match-ups, though. They feed on pocket passers, ask Kirk Cousins. Denard Robinson? Not so much. Corner Alfonso “Fonzie” Dennard has Senior Day today before he goes off to star in the NFL. He’ll shadow McNutt and that will be fun to watch. Rex “Superman” Burkhead should run on Iowa’s defense, if the o-line shows up.
Nebraska will have to bring its Michigan State game to beat Iowa. And I say they will. Nebraska 34, Iowa 24.
The rivalry can start next year at Kinnick Stadium. We’ll try to hit the hardware store by then.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football