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Iowa and Nebraska has turned into a feisty series in the last few years.

Iowa-Nebraska series sizzling toward rivalry status, the midfield logo addition was necessary

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So let’s get to it. Here is the Iowa Breakfast Club for Tuesday, June 13.

Iowa-Nebraska boiling over

When Nebraska accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten beginning with the 2011 sports season, there’s was hope from the league office the Cornhuskers could develop an all-sports rivalry with Iowa.

The teams were placed in the same football division and Big Ten officials scheduled their game for the regular-season finale, which then was moved to Black Friday. The first installment in Lincoln went over like flat champagne. But it recent years the series has simmered to a boil.

Neither side is ready to call it a rivalry, but the friction from not doing so has chafed both sides raw. Nebraska fans are loathe to consider it a rivalry because many don’t consider Iowa worthy of that status. Historically, Nebraska ranks among college football’s elite programs with five national titles. Iowa has a share of one — back in 1958.

But unlike many of Nebraska’s old Big Eight foes, Iowa fans won’t accept the arrogance with a smile. The Hawkeyes have long-standing rivalries with Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa State. So if Nebraska thinks it’s too good to be Iowa’s rival, then Iowa has no interest in kissing the ring to make it so.

In effect, this series is about to boil over.

In most polls pertaining to Iowa’s rivals the percentage split is pretty even with Wisconsin usually pulling out ahead. This poll, which was conducted on Twitter, was about which program fans dislike the most. Nebraska won that poll going away.

The border series has generated interest on both sides of the Missouri River with Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel chiming in last weekend. Omaha World-Herald Nebraska beat writer Sam McKewon conducted a Twitter poll about whether Iowa and Nebraska are rivals. Of the 2,112 responses, 57 percent said yes.

The series still lacks that one gut-punch moment for either squad. Nebraska could have provided it in 2015 when Iowa was gunning for a perfect regular season, but the Hawkeyes pulled out a 28-20 victory. The Cornhuskers’ double-overtime basketball win in January sort of knocked Iowa out of the NCAA Tournament. But not really.

If nothing else, these polls suggest that Iowa and Nebraska fans do not like each other’s program. At all. And that’s good because I’m getting sick of trying to refer to this series as something other than a rivalry.

More Iowa-Nebraska

When trying to contrast the programs, among the most difficult issues is where to position the figurative goal posts. If you include Nebraska’s three national titles in the 1990s (which was a great decade for those of us who experienced it), then just forget any kind of comparison. But is Nebraska’s 1990s success relevant to a 2017 comparison with Iowa?

Likewise, if Iowa cherry-picks the data from 2002 onward, it’s mostly in the Hawkeyes’ favor. So the best way to compare the schools is to begin in 2011, especially now with six years of data. To do so is to agree Nebraska has a rich tradition, and the 2000s were kind to Iowa.

Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, the Cornhuskers are 52-27 overall and 31-18 in Big Ten play. Iowa is 46-32 overall and 29-20 in the league. Both have won one divisional title and suffered one losing season. Nebraska finished its first two Big Ten seasons ranked in the top 25 (24th, 25th). Iowa finished the 2015 season ranked ninth.

The teams have split their six meetings, but Iowa has outscored Nebraska 154-117. That disparity came from the Hawkeyes’ 40-10 thrashing last November.

If we go back to 2000, Nebraska has eight top-25 finishes and Iowa has six. The Cornhuskers have two top-10 finishes (but none since 2001) and the Hawkeyes have five (but none before 2002). Iowa participated in 14 bowls (it had a 6-6 season in 2007 but didn’t compete in the postseason), while Nebraska has played in 15 (counting its 5-7 season in 2015). The Huskers own a 146-75 record since 2000, while the Hawks are 134-82.

So where does it go from here? We’ll find out this fall when they battle for the Heroes Trophy on Nov. 24 in Lincoln.

Iowa-Hawkeyes, Tiger-Hawk
Rendering of Kinnick Stadium with the new Tigerhawk logo. (UI Athletics)

Tigerhawk appears at Kinnick

For years, Iowa fans have clamored for the Tiger-Hawk logo at midfield, and the athletics department has listened. With the installation of new turf at Kinnick this summer, a midfield logo will appear for the first time since 1980 when an “I” disappeared.

There are two topics that are red meat for Iowa fans when it comes to the football game day environment, and the midfield Tigerhawk is one of them. The other is a Tigerhawk on the water tower overlooking the northeast end zone. If that happens someday soon, then all complaining will subside in Hawkeyeland … at least until there’s a punt on the opponents’ side of the 50-yard line.

This was a good move by the athletics department. It’s something the fans want, and there was an opportunity to give it to them. Now, if somebody could just paint the water tower …

Linking Ville