IOWA CITY, Ia. — Nothing fuels a rivalry like rancor.
And throughout the past decade, Northwestern’s football team has channeled a healthy hatred of the Hawkeyes into stunning successes — winning six of the last eight meetings.
Saturday, Iowa will respond with a little animosity of its own and turn the tables.
“We always want to win, particularly against Northwestern,” linebacker James Morris said. “We’ve struggled against them in the past, and it’d sure be nice my senior year to go out with a win.”
It’s time for the Hawkeyes to get mad, and get even.
By now, we’ve all heard the story: Pat Fitzgerald was a Wildcats linebacker in 1995, when he suffered a broken leg during a 31-20 thumping of Iowa.
He never let the emotional wound heal. And when Fitzgerald joined the Northwestern staff as a secondary coach in 2001, he was out to settle a score.
Fitzgerald took over the program in 2006, and in 2010 tailback Adonis Smith was caught on camera saying, “he’s just … he hates them. I know that for a fact. He hates Iowa.”
Well, two can play that game.
No offense to Iowa State, but Northwestern has caused Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz more pain than other opponent.
Remember the onside kick in 2005? Corey Wootton’s takedown of Ricky Stanzi in 2009?
Heck, even last year’s 28-17 loss (in which the Wildcats jumped to a 28-3 lead) sticks in Ferentz’s craw.
“It was a Kodak moment in that there were a lot of things that took place (where) we didn’t execute well enough,” Ferentz said. “As a coach, you focus on the things that keep you from having a chance to have success. There were a lot of visuals in that game that really jumped out.”
Just as Ferentz eventually altered his approach during Cy-Hawk week, the Wildcats have earned a little extra attention, a mix of respect and disdain.
“I think you’re more aware, maybe, that this is a team that’s going to be challenging,” Morris said. “It’s a team that’s presented problems for us in the past, so we know it could potentially be that much harder to win.”
Ferentz, of course, will never reveal his thought on the Wildcats, but there’s a different vibe.
And that’s why I get the feeling Iowa will win.
Andrew Logue covers Hawkeye football and sports media for the Register. Follow his tweets at @AndrewMLogue on Saturday in Iowa City.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football