Allow me to set the scene – it’s the day after Thanksgiving and my wife and her female friends and family are up and out of the house long before sunrise, freezing their kit-kats off while schlepping around the chilly Des Moines metro area, standing in long lines and being trampled by and trampling other crazed shoppers for half off a $199 off-brand LED TV and whatever latest Disney fad is currently a must have. I, on the other hand, am still tucked warmly in my bed, sleeping off the embarrassing eating display I put on the day before at my in-law’s house. I’ll need my rest, because come 2:30 this afternoon, I’ll be cheering my leftover pumpkin pie/green bean casserole/turkey sandwich filled guts out for the Hawks as Iowa hosts Nebraska in both team’s final regular season football game of 2016.
For those not familiar with this game, let me enlighten you. The Iowa vs Nebraska game has been the finale for both squad’s seasons since 2011 when Nebraska jumped ship and left what appeared to be a fizzling Big 12 conference for the historically more dominant B1G conference. And since the two states border each other, the big brass from the B1G thought it appropriate to script a rivalry in hopes it would be an exclamation point to the seasons of two traditionally big programs.This will be the sixth time Iowa plays Nebraska on “Black Friday”, with the Huskers leading the series 3-2. Unfortunately, last season’s match-up has been the only game with any true significance (Iowa’s 2015 12-0 regular season). All would love to see this game have more gravity, more frequently. A girl can dream!
But when it comes to the off the field rivalry, it’s simple; Nebraska is a lousy state, full of lousy people, rooting for a lousy football program. I could stop there but I’ll wax on. A typical Nebraskan’s family tree does not branch off. It’s actually legal to marry your first-cousin in Nebraska. When a Nebraskan refers to his “double-wide” he’s usually talking about his ol’ lady. The Nebraska public school system considers middle school as higher education. Nebraska has fewer dentists per capita than any other state in the union and most third-world countries. And yes, the ‘N’ on the helmets of Cornhusker football players does stand for Nebraska, despite what their players and fans might believe. I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your server.
As I’ve demonstrated, with a montage of lame jokes, this border war goes a little deeper than just a victory for the respective state’s biggest brand. The trash talking has taken on a life of its own and the often times not-so-friendly back and forth of name calling and low-blow humor, that has only been exaggerated and perfected with the popularization of social media, makes this week one of my favorite in all of sport – Iowa vs Nebraska hate week! It may seem a bit immature, but it can be a source of fabulous entertainment when not taken seriously or personally. It’s all in fun, so let the redneck memes fly and Go Hawks!