Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Husker Football: The Correct Rival With A New (Red?) Trophy

I’ve long said that Nebraska has no true rival after the Oklahoma and Husker football teams parted ways after the Big 12 divisional split. The Sooners had Texas as their dance partner and Nebraska was paired with Colorado as their Black Friday matchup.

The good news was the Huskers and Buffs had played for years previously, and both teams at one point or another had won and competed for national championships.

Colorado wasn’t Oklahoma, not even close. However, it was a tolerable second choice, considering the new divisional alignment of the Big 12.

Fast forward to 2010. Nebraska joins the Big Ten, Colorado joins the Pac-12 and both need new nemeses.

The Huskers drew the Hawkeyes from Iowa City. This is where the Big Ten’s strange trophy fetish from comes in to play.

The contest was dubbed the “Heroes Game” Presented by Hy-Vee with a generic-looking prize for the winner. Corporate and marketed…is that the epitome of a rivalry? Absolutely not.

I do not want to dispute the idea behind the Heroes Game; it is fantastic. Honoring heroes in the community doesn’t happen nearly enough and no one can argue that. Honestly, Iowa was a natural, albeit unexciting choice.

However, to dub it a rivalry? Nebraska, as of today, leads the series 28–13–3. Of course, from the Husker perspective, a few more outings like the travesty of the 2013 contest and it’ll become more like a repeated punch to the solar plexus rather than a rivalry trophy football game.

husker football

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The thing is, Iowa’s just not Oklahoma, but no one will be. Being completely honest, Nebraska isn’t ‘Nebraska’ either.

The Sooner/Husker rivalry was built on contempt, but also respect. Most of all, it was built on meaningful games.

It’d take all your fingers and toes to count the number of games the two teams played while both were ranked in the top ten. There were also a number of games played between the teams that directly affected who played for (and won) the Big Eight and national title.

A meaningful, annual game that directly affects teams competing for championships?

Hello, Wisconsin Badgers!

It’s certainly within the realm of possibility for the match-up this season to determine the Big 10 West division winner and the obvious direct contender for the conference crown. Perhaps a battle for College Football Playoff consideration down the road?

Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald reported: “Look for a Wisconsin-Nebraska series trophy to be unveiled soon, perhaps this fall. Both NU Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst and Wisconsin A.D. Barry Alvarez confirmed Monday that the schools are talking about coming up with some hardware to jump-start a new Big Ten West Division rivalry.

“We have ideas,” Alvarez said. “We may have something coming up soon. With my connection to Nebraska and Shawn’s connection to Wisconsin, it just makes sense to do something.”

The former Husker and current Badger Alvarez is correct that this makes sense. A true Big Ten rivalry is nothing without a standard trophy (outside of Michigan-Ohio State), is it? Excuse me while I roll my eyes. This game does not need a trophy to be a rivalry.

These are two schools with similar roots, similar colors and obvious connections. Both schools are known for their strong, physical football teams. Doesn’t this all sound familiar?

Wisconsin is not Oklahoma and Nebraska right now isn’t the Nebraska of yesteryear, but this can turn into something special just like those legendary clashes between Switzer and Osborne’s teams.

As a football fan, specifically a Husker football fan, I want to watch a meaningful game on Black Friday.

Let’s move the Wisconsin and Nebraska game to the day after Thanksgiving, let’s appease the conference by creating a traveling trophy and above all else, let’s compete for championships.

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