Has Iowa vs. Northwestern become a football rivalry?

BY DI STAFF | NOVEMBER 09, 2010 7:20 AM

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What constitutes an archrival?

Is it a shared border, the same conference, or a history of close games?

While an Iowa-Northwestern competition doesn't normally draw a great deal of attention from the Hawkeye community, it should.

Across Iowa's eastern border lies Big Ten foe Northwestern, which has taken it to the Hawkeyes four of the past five years.

Some might argue the history between the teams is not deep enough to be considered a true rivalry, and Iowa's impressive overall record against the Wildcats shows the Hawkeyes' dominance.

However, recent history describes the matchup very differently. Hawkeye fans should consider it a rivalry on the rise.

Although the feud is not worthy of Heartland, Cy-Hawk, or Floyd of Rosedale, the Wildcats have been more than just a bump in the road for the Hawkeyes.

It is easy to overlook Northwestern as a strong competitor with Iowa's tough schedule and success over the years, but the Wildcat fans have not been disappointed after recent games against the Hawkeyes.

Last season's Family Weekend game against Northwestern was especially devastating — it ended the Hawkeyes undefeated run. Only adrenaline stirred up from a rivalry could allow the unranked Wildcats to overpower then-No. 4 Iowa in Kinnick Stadium.

Though the games between the Hawkeyes and Wildcats have typically been close, Northwestern dominated Iowa, 21-7, in the 2006 meeting in Iowa City.

Northwestern always comes out strong whether it's at Kinnick or Ryan Field, and history shows it has been successful.

If the last five years indicate anything, the Hawkeyes should have plenty of motivation to view the Wildcats as an archrival.

— by Maggie Cunningham


To say that Iowa versus Northwestern has become a rivalry is a disgrace to Hawkeye football.

According to Merriam-Webster, a "rival" is "one of two or more striving to reach or obtain something that only one can possess."

Before Iowa's season began, a Rose Bowl or even a national-championship appearance was a goal many believed Iowa could achieve.

When was the last time anyone brought up the Wildcats as a contender for either of those prestigious competitions?

In other words, Iowa and Northwestern do not compete for the same goal; the Hawkeyes aim higher.

I know I cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that a team that holds the longest losing streak in Divison-I college football history (34 games) has beaten the Black and Gold three-consecutive times in Kinnick Stadium, but the all-time record in the Wildcat versus Hawkeye series favors Iowa, 46-22-3.

To call a matchup between two teams a rivalry sets the series on a pedestal and separates it from all others. Oklahoma versus Texas, Ohio State versus Michigan, USC versus Notre Dame — these are rivalry games. Rivalries withstand coaching changes and conference realignments. In fact, I dare to say that Iowa football doesn't have one epic game on its schedule that can be called a rivalry.

A perfect example of this is the guaranteed crossover game the Big Ten gave Iowa after its separation into two divisions: Purdue. The Hawkeyes haven't even played the Boilermakers since 2008, and they are our protected crossover rival?

People want to call Iowa versus Northwestern a rivalry because for the past few years, the Wildcats have upset the Hawkeyes, and last season, they took away the Hawks' 13-game winning streak along with Iowa's quarterback.

But calling this series a rivalry implies that Northwestern and Iowa are on the same level, and that is not acceptable. Moreover, to throw around the term rivalry in relation to this series takes away the word's power and prestige.

— by Megan Berg

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