This is a classic example of a place where sports dominate the entertainment category. On gameday, you might hear announcers joke that “you can leave the keys in your tractor” because everyone in Iowa is at the game. Pre-game tailgating is fantastic and the buzz on the streets in Iowa City is all about the team. Many fans point out visiting colors and start their battle cries and chants. Walking up to Kinnick Stadium, you see a beautiful brick façade that lines the outside. Rows of corn greet visitors to the main entrance along with a statue of Hawkeye hero and 1939 Heisman trophy winner, Nile Kinnick.
A less than appetizing start for both Northwestern and Iowa had many questioning the relevance of this game. Both squads had suffered losses to FCS division teams and it appeared as though mediocre was the mark to make this year.
It has been ten years since I last visited Iowa City and despite the frozen temperatures, I was reminded of how fantastic the atmosphere is at Kinnick Stadium. One week after the Hawkeyes’ enormous victory over #3 Penn State, the aftershock still shook the area. It certainly was the hot topic of conversation. At Purdue, the hot topic is coach Joe Tiller’s departure. The Boilermakers aren’t going to a bowl this year, but they sure played like a bowl team…
Last season, the Badgers ended a double decade losing streak to the Hawkeyes. The game was in Madison and Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez defeated his first boss, Hayden Frye. This year, the battle between these border states would be in Iowa City, where the streak still had a pulse knowing that UW has not won there since “Bennie and the Jets” was a #1 single.