The game this Friday in Iowa City has a lot of meaning for Nebraska football.
The team should be eager to rinse away the sour taste left by a blowout loss at home to Illinois. All three phases of the game were dominated by the Illini. The game this week also feels like a pivotal moment in the Scott Frost tenure. But the game also represents a big opportunity for Nebraska.
Standing in the way of trying to get the program pointed in the right direction are the rival Iowa Hawkeyes. Kirk Ferentz’s team seems to always be fired up and ready to play against the Huskers. That is an intensity level Nebraska needs to meet. That starts in practice during the week. Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander has been encouraged by what he has seen so far. Chinander, an Iowa alum, explained on Tuesday what this rivalry game means.
“The level of the rivalry is super high,” Chinander said.
“It’s a relatively newer rivalry in football because of the conference realignment, but I think there’s been a lot of rivalries between the states for a long time and in a lot of different categories. So, I think it means a lot to not only the players on both sides but the fans on both sides, the people of each state.
“This is a game that if you can’t get ready for this one then you probably don’t need to be playing college football at Nebraska because this is a game that everybody’s ready for. Everybody wants to win this game and everybody better leave it all on the field on this one because this is a game that’s super, super important to not only our program but the state of Nebraska.”
The Huskers have plenty of players who have been in this game before. One who has not participated in it yet is new transfer wide receiver Levi Falck. Still, the wideout is well aware of the importance placed on this game.
“I’m from the Midwest,” Falck said. “I’m from Minnesota. I’m familiar with the Big Ten and a huge football fan when I was kid. So, I know Nebraska-Iowa is a huge game and we’ve obviously went over that and reiterated how big this game is. Like always, you got to take one game at a time. This is our one game and we’re going to treat this like the most important game and I think we’re going to come out ready.”
Iowa has won five straight games in the series dating back to the 2015 game. The last two games in the series have been tight with Iowa winning each game by a field goal. In rivalry games though, close only counts for so much. Nebraska’s players know its time to turn the tide in the game.
“Obviously, this game is huge with the Heroes Trophy,” defensive lineman Casey Rogers said. “I think everyone in the locker room knows that. We want that trophy back. We’ve been working really hard this week in practice. Last week is all said and done, we put it behind us, we learned from it. We’ve totally moved on to Iowa now. We’re ready to go and compete with them.”
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.