Something was missing this season.
It had nothing to do with Nebraska’s performance on the field. It had nothing to do with the personalities on the team.
There was an absence of chaos.
There were no oranges pelted at coaches, no trash thrown onto the field and no entire student sections ejected from the game. There was nobody to hate.
Sure, there were some tough losses and some frustrating games, but there surely was no Colorado, and it’s hard to say if there was even a Missouri this season for Nebraska.
So who is Nebraska’s rival? Who is the Ohio State to our Michigan? The Auburn to our Alabama?
Is it Iowa?
With Iowa, there’s a border war, the only one the Huskers have in the Big Ten, which has split a number of households and pits together two similar groups of corn state fans. Nebraska’s only trophy game seems like a no brainer for a new rivalry, especially since it’s played in place of Colorado on Black Friday. Still, something was missing in Friday’s game against the Hawkeyes. There was no hate.
Wisconsin had a lot of hate. Husker fans that went to Camp Randall to watch the Huskers get smoked by Wisconsin know the jealousy a lot of fans have for Wisconsin’s atmosphere. That crowd is raucous and in-sync stadium-wide, something Nebraska couldn’t dream of accomplishing.
While Badgers fans have the potential of replacing a Colorado, as some Husker fan tales talk of Badger fans cursing at them and throwing drinks or even elbows at them, the Huskers don’t play the Badgers every year. This could be a real rivalry, but when it’s only played twice every six or so years, it’s hard to keep the fire stoked.
Nebraska’s one protected rival from Wisconsin’s Leaders Division is Penn State. Since they play every season, the Nittany Lions could be Nebraska’s next rival. This one really does have a lot of potential, but it’s impossible to judge after this year’s emotional game that had everyone’s minds residing outside the football stadium. Keep an eye on Penn State.
Michigan State is good this year, but let’s not kid ourselves, they don’t have the fans or the Nebraska connection to support a true rivalry with the Huskers. Northwestern whooped up on Nebraska, leaving fans bitter, but there are concerns about the Wildcats’ long-term football viability, plus they lack a fan backing. And while Minnesota had a heck of a run in the 1950’s, they’re no better than Iowa State was in the Big 12, and it’ll show in how the fans treat the game.
That only leaves one.
“Everyone in the Big Ten hates Michigan.”
Eric Warren, a member of Iowa’s marching band and a Kearney, Neb., native, said Iowa doesn’t have a rival either. And when teams are in doubt, like Iowa always has been and like Nebraska will likely be for the next few years, it’s easy to hate on the Wolverines.
After all, they are the winningest program in college football history (Nebraska is fourth), they have the biggest stadium in the country, and they dismantled Nebraska’s defense. In addition, they have a better version of Nebraska’s quarterback, in Denard Robinson.
So, forget the Hawkeyes, pass on the Badgers and disregard the Golden Gophers. Hate Michigan.
By Chris Peters