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Why Wisconsin Football vs. Iowa Matters More This Year

Wisconsin football vs. Iowa just means more this year.

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Wisconsin Badgers Football: Battle for the Heartland
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Frey-AMF Photos. Follow @amfphotos2020 on Instagram to see more.

In college football, some rivalries define a region’s passion for the sport. This weekend’s matchup between the Wisconsin Badgers football team and the Iowa Hawkeyes is one such rivalry — and wouldn’t you know it — it’ll play a crucial role in deciding the winner of the Big Ten West.

This gritty, never-pretty showdown, known as the “Battle of the Heartland,” has captured the hearts of Big Ten football fans for decades.

Let’s delve into the reasons that make this rivalry particularly significant, especially in the context of this year compared to previous ones.

The Origin of the Wisconsin Football Rivalry vs. Iowa 

The roots of the Wisconsin Badgers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes rivalry trace back to the late 19th century when both schools began competing in football. The first official showdown between the two teams occurred in 1894, and since then, it has grown into a fierce, tradition-rich contest.

The Heartland rivalry is fueled by the shared Midwestern values, the love for the game, and the desire to “outtough” one another. The proximity of the two states, Iowa and Wisconsin, adds to the intensity as programs that have traditionally recruited and developed the same type of players.

Historically, Wisconsin football owns a 49-45-2 overall advantage over the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Why it Matters More For Wisconsin Football This Year

So, what makes the “Battle of the Heartland” so important? It’s about more than just winning a football game; it’s about pride, tradition, and bragging rights. The Wisconsin Badgers and Iowa Hawkeyes have passionate fan bases supporting their teams through thick and thin.

But this year, in particular, the final season that the Big Ten West will exist before conference expansion takes place, the Badgers NEED to capitalize and bring home a win. 

If Wisconsin football beats Iowa, thus paving the way for the Badgers to win the West in a down year — they can end a three-year drought from the conference championship game. Should UW fail to win at home, Iowa will be in the driver’s seat — and essentially control their own fate. 

Winning the battle for the Heartland is always crucial, but this year, it’s even more important when you consider how top-heavy the Big Ten will be in the coming years. 



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Trevor Lovec is a freelance sports writer, BadgerNotes.com correspondent, and a diehard Northern Iowa fan. He covers Wisconsin football & basketball, plus a little Badgers recruiting.

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