IOWA CITY, Ia. – The Heartland Trophy was introduced less than a decade ago.
So why does it seem like a long, lost relic to members of the Iowa football program?
“If I saw it, I would remember it,” defensive tackle Carl Davis said, “but I haven’t seen it since my freshman year.”
The big, brass bull has remained in Wisconsin since 2010, when the Badgers beat the Hawkeyes 31-30 at Kinnick Stadium.
Saturday, the rivalry resumes with an 11 a.m. showdown that will air on ABC.
“It’s a big part of college football,” Badgers coach Gary Andersen said of playing for a trophy. “It’s something that adds a little bit more of an edge for the game, for the players, for the fans and also for the coaches.
“It’s fun to be involved in those games.”
The Wisconsin-Iowa series was an early casualty of realignment within the Big Ten Conference, sending the schools into separate divisions.
What a shame.
Since the inaugural meeting in 1894, the results are split 42-42-2.
And things were intensifying in the new millennium.
A fake punt propelled the Badgers win a win in the last meeting. Former Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer delivered a memorable blow in 2009.
Remember 2005, when the Hawkeyes spoiled retiring Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez’s final game at Camp Randall Stadium?
“We’ve had a lot of games back and forth with them,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “The series has been a really good series.”
The Hawkeyes hold a 4-3 edge over the Badgers since the Heartland Trophy was introduced in 2004.
“It’s been three years since we played, and they have it up there,” Iowa safety Tanner Miller said. “We put a lot of emphasis on the trophy games in the offseason, so we have pictures up all during the summer.
“We know what we’re playing for.”
The Hawkeyes claimed bragging rights earlier this season by beating Iowa State (the Cy-Hawk Trophy) and Minnesota (Floyd of Rosedale) on the road.
Now, they’ll host a neighboring nemesis on national television.
“We’re 2-0 in trophy games, right now,” Davis said. “We want to be 3-0, and get another trophy to put in the complex.”
The Heartland Trophy has sat in the Badgers’ locker room, alongside Paul Bunyan’s Axe, as a showcase during an $86 million renovation project.
Regardless who wins Saturday, success will have a shorter shelf life.
The Big Ten’s newest divisional shift placed Iowa and Wisconsin in the West, meaning they will play annually starting next season.
“The good news is, moving forward, we’ll be playing each year,” Ferentz said, “which is what it should be, because we have a trophy involved.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football