Nebraska, You Have A Rival And It’s Not Up For Debate


There are certain things you just don’t see often in life. One of those things is another team carrying a trophy off the football field at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska after defeating the Cornhuskers.

That’s exactly what happened on Black Friday. What made that scene different was the fact that it was a group of Iowa Hawkeye football players carrying that trophy. It was the 13th time in history that the Hawkeyes had bested the Huskers in 44 tries and the first win in the three-year history of Nebraska’s participation as a member of the Big Ten Conference.

Earlier in the week, a local Omaha sports talk radio show asked a question on Facebook in regard to who Nebraska’s Black Friday rivalry game should be played against — Iowa or Wisconsin. A surprisingly large number of Nebraska fans, for whatever reason, chose Wisconsin.

The fact that this is even a question and Wisconsin is a valid answer baffles me. I’ve lived in Omaha for over a decade. As I carry on about my business throughout the Omaha-Council Bluffs, Iowa metro (which happens to the the largest metro to sit literally on the border of any two Big Ten states), I see people every day wearing Husker red. I also see, more than any other team, college or pro, Iowa Hawkeye fans.

Wisconsin? The only sign of Wisconsin I’ve seen around these parts was at a local Wal-Mart. I was rooting through some Husker gear when I came across a lunchbox that had “Huskers” painted onto one side and the Wisconsin “W” misprinted on the other. I suppose this is a simple and common factory mishap, considering the two teams have the same colors and same uniforms sans the helmet. Outside of the uniform similarities, the only other Wisconsin/Nebraska connection I can make out is Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin’s athletic director and former coach — who happens to be a Nebraska alum.

That’s it? That’s what constitutes a rival? I don’t think so.

Where I come from, some kid who sits behind you and flicks your ears, looking for a fight is a rival. Someone who constantly roots for you to fail and celebrates your failures like their own victories is a rival. Someone who comes into your back yard and steals the finest vegetables from your garden is a rival. And finally, someone who beats you, whether it’s once or every time, at the one thing you are supposed to be better than they are at — that’s a rival. To make matters worse, after they beat you, they just walk next door to their own house, close the door, shoot you a quick middle finger from the window and laugh as they close the blinds.

That’s what Iowa has been doing to Nebraska for decades and continued to do on Saturday. The Iowa Hawkeyes are your rival, Nebraska. There’s no avoiding or denying it.

The fact that you don’t think so and continue to think you are above Iowa only strengthens it. The fact that Iowa smack-talk infuriates you like it does only legitimizes it.

The fact that you don’t have another true, natural rivalry decides it.

It’s rare that any store in eastern Nebraska sells only Husker garb. Most, whether jewelry stores, sporting goods stores, arts and crafts stores or department stores sell both Husker and Hawkeye merchandise. There is a reason for this. Iowa fans roll deep in eastern Nebraska. Their numbers are strong, right here in your back yard, and they grow stronger by the day.

Hawkeye fans aren’t afraid of the Husker mystique. They sport their colors proudly in the face of you —  in the back yard of the self-proclaimed greatest fans in college football — without fear, seemingly waiting for you to react.

And you do. You react by noticing. You sneer. You scowl. You stare, wondering how they have the gall to walk around Henry Doorly Zoo or the Old Market, sporting that black and gold trash. It angers you, even if only for a moment.

You don’t feel that way about Wisconsin. The last time you felt that way, it was Oklahoma.

Oklahoma has moved on. Penn State screwed you 30 years ago. Mizzou has bigger fish to fry. Colorado is a bottom feeder in the PAC 12. Wisconsin only acknowledges your existence during the week you play them.

But Iowa — Iowa is a different animal. Iowa is sitting in your front yard, throwing rocks at your house 365 days a year. They watch you through your window and laugh as you celebrate accomplishments from 20 years ago.

For the last two years, you shoved them away and celebrated victory and supremacy. But this year, you walked outside and got stomped out in your own front yard. And now, for another calendar year, you have to look at those black and gold-clad fans in your back yard and keep your mouth shut when they walk by and whisper one word in your ear: SCOREBOARD.

Iowa is your rival, Nebraska. It’s been a long time coming. It’s time to own it.


Follow @KIAFootball on Twitter.



Share Button

About J.P. Scott

Owner and editor of Know It All Football, contributor to and Member of the Football Writers Association of America.

48 thoughts on “Nebraska, You Have A Rival And It’s Not Up For Debate

  1. danemychal
    December 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    LOVE IT!

  2. December 1, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    You’re probably right, but time will tell. Colorado was never a rival because they didn’t beat us enough. Iowa’s off to a great start, but if 10 years from now the series record is 11-2 (either way), they won’t be any more of a rival than Kansas State was.

    On the one hand, I think it could be a great rivalry and I’m kind of rooting for it. On the other hand, I really don’t want to lose half of the games. One way to be a rival without keeping the record super close is to time those victories right. A team that only wins 1/3 of the time but keeps the opponent out of a BCS bowl or a conference championship can become a rival pretty quickly.

    I think people picked Wisky because Iowa fans are generally good sports. It’s a lot easier to want to beat the ‘less than’ good sports.

  3. akble
    December 1, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    fans in Nebraska do not like Iowa. They dare not call it a rivalry because that gives Iowa credibility. They are in supreme denial as to where their FB program is and has been the last decade at least. They jumped conferences and many said it was so they could dominate in FB – hasn’t happened and no real signs it will.
    Iowa’s program has more T20 finishes and BCS Bowl games in the last 13 years. That fact they continue to ignore while living in the 70s and 80s. Most Iowans were disappointed in the deluding of the B10 with addition of Maryland, Rutgers and yes- Nebraska

    1. JohnG
      December 2, 2013 at 3:27 am

      Most Iowans were disappointed in the deluding of the B10 with addition of Maryland, Rutgers and yes- Nebraska…

      You and the Iowans you speak of are delusional if you think Nebraska DILUTED the B1G.. talking about Nebraska living in the past.. they have finished higher and have beaten Iowa both years prior to this season. Get your shots in now because Iowa beat Nebraska’s injury devastated offense and extremely young defense. You will be eating your words for a long while, get used to it.

      1. December 5, 2013 at 1:29 am

        I will have to say something for Nebraska and its something I love about the Hawkeyes as well with the exception of the drunkards, I love the fans!!! This year alone I have seen the Nebraska fans DO SOME EXTRAORDINARY things for their opposing teams. What Nebraska did for the UCLA game was really classy, they regularly applaud when an injured player for the other team gets up off the field. They are die hard Nebraska fans but DAMNIT THEY HAVE CLASS! and this is coming from a tried and true Hawkeye fan, I really hope this rivalry takes off and we get some good games in the future where national championships (or rosebowls) are at stake especially being the last regular season game.

  4. David
    December 1, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    You need to realize that when Iowa actually manages to beat Nebraska in football it is a much bigger deal to Iowa fans than it is to Nebraska fans when they beat Iowa. It has always been this way and will always be this way. This is why it will never be viewed as a rivalry to the majority of Nebraska fans and will always be to every Iowa fan. Nebraska does not view Iowa as a rival because the series record is far too lopsided. We will never consider Iowa our rival. That is simply the way it is.

  5. john henry
    December 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Interesting concept but, at best, humorous. NU has begged Iowa, for years, to become an annual whipping boy only to be shunned by the black shirt with a yellow stripe up its back running in the opposite direction. Colorado tried to force their will and make NU their “rival” but like Iowa, NU only threw them a bone once every five years also. IU
    should feel proud for their win on Friday, I mean they did beat our third string QB, second string offensive line and a defense made up of last year’s high schoolers. But there is more to being a rival than living next door, Oklahoma was not next door. It’s called respect, mutual respect between two teams. Two teams that look forward to the game and the competition and accept the win or loss with dignity, not staking a claim to a rivalry. We could not care less about a few Hawkeye and Cyclone shirts running around the area, it’s not a big deal. You need to grow up for a lot of years and not be afraid to play us before you will ever be thought of as a rival. For now we will humor you and say good game but that’s all you get.

    1. admin
      December 1, 2013 at 9:22 pm

      You talk as if I am an Iowa fan. I can assure you, I root for Nebraska every Saturday.

    2. Corey Pinkley
      December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      Ignorance is bliss. We also had a freshman at qb. We have had him there all year. Don’t act like you lost because of a injury. If the score was 24-21 Id say sure but you got smacked, face it. It’s going to happen a lot more too, you are not the Nebraska you use to be. Furthermore Iowa had a good team this year, the 4 teams that beat them have a combined record of I think 43-4.

    3. Herk U Loyd
      December 2, 2013 at 6:00 pm

      Your comment is particulary funny in a few regards. First,Iowa has never “shunned” playing Nebraska. We’ve played 44 times. That’s more tim es than we’ve played some B1G teams,and I don’t mean Penn State.
      You claimed this shunning was because we afraid of being another “whipping boy”. That is an apt term for a lot of your past victories. Everyone knows you LOVED having those ISU and Kansas like teams to help puff up Nebby’s overall win % and victory total. Since the day Hayden Fry walked into our collective Hawkeye lives,Iowa stopped being one of those “patsy wins”.
      You say it takes respect to make a rivalry. I disagree. Contempt also breeds one. The arrogance and sense of entitlement breeds this contempt for Nebraska.And in this sense,you could say almost EVERYONE is Nebraska’s rival. Iowa being a border state,and seeing this first hand more often than most,feel it more than almost anyone else. You can continue to claim we aren’t your rival,because well,Huskers gonna Husker…
      But You Are our Rival. I guarantee you that. And we love nothing more than to shove your arrogance right back in your face.
      Go ahead and make excuses for why you lost this year to us. You could say much the same for Iowa last year when we played. Injuries killed us last year. And we still played you a LOT closer than you managed with the roles reversed this year. Keep on making excuses… SCOREBOARD.

    4. Blake
      December 2, 2013 at 8:52 pm

      And for some reason it doesn’t matter that you scratched out a narrow victory last year against Iowa’s heavily injured youngest team in 15 years? You better start respecting Iowa because Iowa has had more success on a national stage this century, and there is no reason to think that’s going to change anytime soon.

  6. Go Hawks
    December 1, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    Truth is NE fan better want this to be a rivalry and they need it to be much more that Iowa does (if they want a true rival). Iowa and the rest of the BIG already have formed rivalries (and yes the Wisco/MN/NW/ILLI v Iowa one burns hotter than this one for hawk fans living outside of W Iowa) yet NE bc they are newer to the conference and on the western edge of the BIG really only have one potential natural rival and that is Iowa.

    I know Husker fan doesn’t like to admit it but in terms of having a conference rival they are currently the odd man out, the last kid chosen in dodgeball, the one sitting alone at the table. That may change over time but not anytime soon so embrace it Husker fan, this corporately spun up heros game and annual rivalry are all you got.

  7. ryan
    December 1, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but Iowa doesn’t view Nebraska as its rival folks. Our rival is Wisconsin.

    1. Dave
      December 2, 2013 at 10:14 am

      Ryan is correct in that Wisconsin is Iowa’s primary rival and that has been truth for many years.With Iowa’s win on Friday that opens the door for the two teams to become a rivalry.There is also a huge difference between Wisconsin and Nebraska’s fanbase mentality.It is much easier to get under the skin of Nebraska fan’s and that is why interaction is so much more fun with BIG Red fans than Bucky’s.See you all in Kinnick if you can make the trip.It should be a good one!

  8. December 1, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    This is an interesting take, but I disagree.

    My line-by-line rebuttal:

  9. Hawk Fan
    December 2, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Could care less about Nebraska-they can just as well go back to the Big 9 or whatever you call it nowadays. They are technically a part of the Big 10 b/c the powers that be want more money but it will be decades before I ever think of them as truly a part of the conference-still have trouble thinking of Penn State as a member. I will always hate the Buckeyes more than any other team and truthfully I hate several other teams including Illinois more than I will ever care to think about Nebraska. This is just a win just like vs the Cyclowns-they aren’t rivals in my mind either, just a team to beat. Please don’t assign rivalries for fans on both sides of this-I doubt NE wants this shoved down their throat either-just another game I’m glad we won that’s it.

  10. Gary
    December 2, 2013 at 2:32 am

    I shit in the mouths of every Iowa fan that thinks they compare. You lasted one day amongst the pride and proof of many. Consider yourselves lucky, birds. I fart in your general direction. Eat a fucking dick.

    1. Tim
      December 2, 2013 at 8:23 am

      As classy a comment and fan as your POS coach Pelini! Guess he comes by it honestly, learned his lack of class from the fan base!

    2. Corey Pinkley
      December 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Lucky? keep thinking that if that will help you sleep for the next year ;). The 4 teams that beat Iowa have a combined record of 43-4. We were lucky my ass. We didn’t beat Nebraska, we SMACKED Nebraska on their home field, and that leaves a sour taste in your mouth, but it doesn’t make us lucky. Their will be more to come my dear friend, see you in Kinnick next year.

    3. December 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      Well that escalated quickly.

    4. Herk U Loyd
      December 2, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      Gary,you “shit in the mouth of”???
      What,are you some cyber scat pervert? Seriously this entitlement arrogance is exactly why your fanbase,and by proxy your football team is universally despised by the nation.
      You have the perfect coach in Bo to represent the collective personality of your fanbase…And yet you are sooo fucking arrogant,you don’t even see it.
      He is a perfect reflection of dipshit homers like you.
      You should embrace him as such,because he has a more prominent stage to display his antics on than you do.

  11. bob
    December 2, 2013 at 5:22 am

    Until Iowa carried the trophy off the field, No one I know had ever seen it. Iowa isn’t a rival. More like an irritating little brother.

    1. Corey Pinkley
      December 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      Right….. That’s why Iowa and Nebraska fans have given each other shit for years. I’m from northwest Iowa, Sioux City, and every year my facebook is filled with Iowans giving Nebraskans crap and vice versa. I’ll give you the fact that Nebraska has a good amount more wins against Iowa than Iowa does against Nebraska but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a rivalry. It’s a rivalry because of geology and location, and fans poking fun at fans. That happens a lot because of location, especially in the sioux city area with so many hawkeye and husker fans. Trust me I’ve grown up around it and seen it my whole life, its a rivalry weather you want to believe it or not, and also now that Iowa plays them regularly the win loss ratio will even out. We played you maybe 5 times since like 1980, this is a guess but probably close, well its going to be a lot more now and Nebraska is no longer the powerhouse they use to be. This being said the win loss ratio will even out. Keep your blinders on but this is a rivalry no matter what you think.

      1. admin
        December 2, 2013 at 8:50 pm

        You mean geography. Geology is the study of rocks.

  12. Matt
    December 2, 2013 at 8:24 am

    The fact that two teams need to be evenly matched historically to be a rivalry is simply not so. What is the biggest and best rivalry in baseball? Yankees v. Red Sox. The Yankees are 5 times the team the Red Sox are historically, but geography and hatred drive that rivalry. Problem is a big part of Husker fandom is dilution and arrogance. To them, to call Iowa a rival is to give them credibility and some will never do that. But in reality it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

  13. December 2, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Well, this should stir the pot and rustle up the hate …. I never thought that Nebraska deserved to be in the Big Ten. There should be standards besides mythical National Championships. Nebraska doesn’t measure up to other standards. At the University of Iowa, for decades, we have had inclusion, diversity. We respect everyone. Not so in Lincoln. Kirk Ferentz, the university, and the fans would never accept an assistant coach like Nebraska’s Ron Brown bashing gay citizens. So, until Nebraska joins the 21st century, go back to the Big 12 and play with your redneck brother Texas. Go Hawks!

    1. December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      That’s because most of your fans at that liberal arts college (the final is to remember to ask if you’d like fries with that) are gay.

  14. Jed
    December 2, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Just another hilarious post on what is called “know it all football”. Just a sad and pathetic representation of the name.

    Rivalries are built over time. Not 3 years. Iowa won, good for them. They were by far and away better on Friday. But as usual for you, your rational is flawed. Iowa is Nebraska’s rival because stores sell both gear? Because Iowa fans live in Nebraska? How much Colorado gear did you see years ago in that metro area that you speak of? How much Oklahoma gear did you see years ago in that metro area? Football rivalries are built on the field not in stores or backyards. Nebraska does not have a rival right now. They will over time in the Big 10 but that is what it will take, time.

  15. BC
    December 2, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I am a HUGE Iowa fan but this is not yet a rivalry. This will take some time and yes, Iowa will need to win more than it has.

    What bugs me is the entitlement that Nebraska fans have. There is NO QUESTION that they were a top 5 program for much of 3 decades (1970-2000). Who can argue against that?

    Times change for all. Texas, USC, Alabama (pre-Saban), Michigan, Florida, etc and other so-called blue-blood programs have fallen at some point. To average 9-10 wins per year is extremely good – for anyone!

    To dimiss Iowa as a good football program is foolishness. You can go back to the start of 2000 and see that they have been more relevant than the Huskers. Sure, Iowa has had some average years but their great years have been better than what has transpired in Lincoln (3 BCS games, 4 top-ten finishes and an amazing amount of talent sent to the NFL).

    Nebraska should not settle for “mediocrity” and who should? If 9/10 wins is mediocre in today’s college football landscape then wow. They are still a better overall name brand than my Hawks (regardless of the above paragraph) but the idea that they should be at or above OSU, MICH, PSU is misguided. Earn it first and then we will talk.

  16. todd
    December 2, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Gotta love the delusional Nebraska fans who view Iowa as a little brother. Really?? The last 13 years (Ferentz era) Iowa has more top 10 finishes, BCS bowls, BCS bowl victories and put a lot more players into the NFL than Nebraska. The two programs are very comparable today. They compete for many of the same recruits, they are boarder states, it is a natural rivalry– deal with it!

  17. December 2, 2013 at 11:12 am

    The biggest haters of Nebraska are the Hawk fans that live in western Iowa. Being from eastern Iowa I think of the Huskers as a has been elite that will never be what they once were. I much rather beat Illinois or Wisconsin. I do think Nebraska should get over themselves because when they do play
    the better teams they get smoked. UCLA and Iowa this year and the all out whipping they took in the Big 10 championship game last year.

  18. bbone
    December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Its UofI

  19. bbone
    December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Haha sweet comments… all of you getting upset by this just created a rivalry, because now you will hatw even more to lose to iowa

  20. keo
    December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm
  21. The Truth
    December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Iowa might possibly be viewed as a rival someday, but as of today it is not even on the horizon. First off, Nebraska fans would not celebrate a win over Iowa any more than a win over Minnesota. Than fact alone means there is no rivalry. I don’t care how many Iowa Hawkeye watches you see at the Piggly Wiggly.

    Iowa will never be on the same level as long as their is such a disparity in fan expectations. Iowa fans simply do not care as much as Nebraska fans when it comes ot success of their team. Need proof, 8-4 took Ferentz off the hotseat. 8-4 nearly got Pelini fired.

    1. Herk U Loyd
      December 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      The Truth,we could care less if you celebrate or not when you beat us. As long as your fanbase keeps crying and throwing total shit fits when We beat You,all is well in the world.

    2. hawkeye
      December 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      you didn’t beat Minnesota either.

  22. meh
    December 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    I was more disappointed that we lost to Iowa because they kicked our ass and it’s frustrating when any team kicks our ass. I don’t have a hate for Iowa, just kinda see them as something to be ignored except when we play them. I’d happily go 11-1 in a regular season if it meant that we lost to Iowa, if this was an actual rivalry, any fan would want the loss to be to any other team than the rival.

    Now, Wisconsin, I hate Wisconsin, it frustrates me when we lose to Wisconsin because they are Wisconsin.

  23. December 2, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Living in Dubuque I can tell ya one thing and that is Wisky is our rival.. period.. end of story!!

  24. Buddhist Peter
    December 3, 2013 at 5:48 am

    Iowa’s program is respectable; in fact, I respect what they’ve been able to accomplish historically far more than programs like Illinois or Indiana that have many more resources but annually fail to field even a decent program. The problem with Iowa is simple: low expectations. They’ve literally developed a collective mancrush on Kirk Ferentz and defend his mediocre coaching record (Iowa has lost 5 games or more SIX times in the past nine years). The average Iowa fan is more concerned with being nice (or at least, the appearance of being nice) over actually winning ball games.

    At Iowa, 7-5 gets you a raise from your boss and a nod of approval from fans. At Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, or just about any other school in the Big Ten not named Indiana, posting those numbers consistently will get a coach fired.

    1. Blake
      December 3, 2013 at 11:08 am

      Yeah but at Iowa, we value BCS games, top 10 finishes, and conference championships. That’s why we like Ferentz. Nebraska doesn’t know too much about those things this century. The average Nebraska fan is too concerned with living in the past over actually winning meaningful games.

  25. Carolina Redneck
    December 3, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Just a quick note to them theare Hawk fans. They predict the Gamecocks might play ya’ll in the Outback Bowl. Just lookin at some of the Hawkeye media and ended up here. I hate to tell you Iowa people that Ya’ll don’t own all rights for lack of respect for those there Corn Suckers, Corn Duckers er ah Corn ya’ll know what I mean. They do something funny with that there corn. Truth of it is we dun heard about the that temper trantrum that coach threw up there the other day cause he got his ass kicked by you guys. But as far back as we can all remember down here thats the way them people out there in Nebraska has always acted. One of them ole boys down in Alabama was telling me the other day they call the Sheriff over there when they see a Nebraska car. Sheriff says he like to mess with them because they all feel entitled. Them boys down in the bayou says he thinks they would make good alligator bait. All kidding aside Hawks, Nebraska and their following is not liked anywhere down here. Anyway, hope to see Iowa in the Outback, we had a lot of fun with it several years back.

  26. Riggs
    December 4, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Iowa is the new Colorado to us. It will never be a rivalry. They’re trying to force it. I would rather have Oklahoma or Texas back. Since we’re in the Big Ten now, I’ll take Michigan or Wisconsin as a rival.

  27. Mark
    December 4, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I find it hilarious that a lot of Husker fans consider or want Wisconsin as their rival. Somehow letting a team slap you around and run up 70 + points is what meets their definition of a rival. As a team I don’t view Nebraska as a rival to Iowa. Nebraska doesnt have a rival because Big Ten teams dont care about them, maybe Rutgers will need a rival. I think this game could be, and the absolute arrogance of most Husker fans will only fuel the hatred. But we cheered this last beat down of NU, not because of beating the vaunted Huskers and their tradition, it is to get their fan base to shut up, if only for a while.

  28. mark
    December 5, 2013 at 9:38 am

    I have the pleasure of working with an Iowa fan. She is thoughtful and smart. Heading into the game she was scared. I, too was scared for different reasons. After the blowout loss she asked me if I would still speak to her. My point being all the false bravado will cease very soon, next year in Iowa City. I like Iowa but you will never be NEBRASKA, get over it Hawkeyes!