Rivalry Temperature Check: Who Is Iowa's Biggest Rival?

By RossWB on July 1, 2022 at 12:30 pm
lol nebraska
© Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Over at The Athletic ($), Scott Dochterman posted the results of a recent survey they posted to gauge the opinions of Iowa fans on various things, ranging from Kirk Ferentz's performance to optimism for the 2022 season and thoughts about various positional units. It's a nice read and you can check it out in full here

But the question that caught my eye was the one regarding who fans considered Iowa's biggest football rival. 

It's especially interesting compared to the responses for who Iowa fans dislike the most. 

Which... I mean that checks out. One hundred percent. Nebraska fans are the worst.

the wooooooorst

Again, this is just football. Basketball is a different kettle of fish (Wisconsin and Illinois are kind of leading the pack in that discussion right now), as is wrestling (Penn State by several miles). But Iowa's biggest rival in football? That's a trickier one. 

Iowa has more history with Minnesota than anyone else and plays them for the greatest rivalry trophy in all of college football. On the other hand, the games rarely have additional significance, even in the Big Ten West race (though that has changed slightly in the last few years). 

The animosity is strong with Nebraska -- and not just because of Nebraska fans, either. The Nebraska team has had more than its share of assclowns since they joined the Big Ten and Scott Frost is as hatable as they come, especially when he's impotently whining about clapping on the sideline or kickers blowing kisses at him. But these games have also had even less relevance than the Minnesota games, despite getting a national spotlight every Black Friday. 

There's a lot of animosity associated with Iowa State as well, of course, and while there aren't any Big Ten-related significance attached to the Cy-Hawk games, there is an awful lot of state pride (and bragging rights) on the line every September. These games have also had shocking amounts of national relevance in recent years, even garnering a pair of visits from ESPN College GameDay. But does Iowa's recent winning streak (and Iowa State's perpetual "little brother" status) forever put a lower ceiling on the rivalry status here? 

And then there's Wisconsin. This is undoubtedly the most aspirational of Iowa's potential rivals; the road to the Big Ten West goes through Madison every season and Iowa's success against the Paul Chryst-led Badgers has been... fleeting. But there also isn't the animosity toward Wisconsin (outside of a few pockets of fandom) that you get with Minnesota or (especially) Nebraska and Iowa State. 

Or what about a fifth option? There was a moment in time in the '80s when the Iowa-Illinois football rivalry was almost as fierce as the hoops rivalry (OK, not really, but the football rivalry was pretty tasty) and the addition of Bret Bielema has breathed some competence back into the Illini. What about Northwestern and Purdue? Outside of Wisconsin, no one has been a greater thorn in Iowa's side in Big Ten play over the last 5-10 years, with Jeff Brohm absolutely owning Kirk Ferentz and Phil Parker over the last half-decade. 

So who is Iowa's biggest current football rival? Go vote in our poll and let's hash it out in the comments below. 

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