Thirteen years, thirteen times the favorite for the Kirk Ferentz-led Iowa Hawkeyes in their intra-state rivalry with the Iowa State Cyclones, a game better know simply as the "CyHawk" game.
It should be old hat for Iowa's head coach Kirk Ferentz, however he knows more so than anyone else that taking this game for granted is anything but wise. Playing the favorite hasn't exactly worked out well for the Hawkeyes.
Ferentz should also know that this game, this year could be the most important one in his history as part of the rivalry. It isn't just about bragging rights in 2013 anymore (not that it ever was and those who've been witness to this game know what I'm talking about).
Why? Well, between the results of last season (4-8 record anyone?) and a less than spectacular start to the 2013 season, the prospects of facing a three-game losing streak to the Cyclones don't bode well for the future of the coach in Iowa City.
Simply put, a win is a must for Ferentz and for the Hawkeyes' hopes in 2013.
There are people jumping on the "Fire Ferentz" bandwagon faster than those that jump on the Hawkeye Express every weekend.
A win over Iowa State, whom Ferentz holds a less than stellar 6-8 record against, would stop the haters in their tracks and also give his team some confidence.
Taking down a rival from another BCS conference and starting the season 2-1 would be about the best Ferentz could've hoped for with the schedule that was put in front of him.
Conversely, starting the season 1-2 and looking ahead towards a Big Ten slate that includes Wisconsin and Ohio State out of the Leaders division is less than appetizing to say the least.
However, not only is the history of this game against Ferentz's favor, so to is the history he has in rivalry/trophy games period.
In fact, he has struggled mightily in Trophy games his entire career.
Ferentz is all of 21-21 against rivals Iowa State, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska (since 2011 when the Heroes game became an annual thing) in his time as Iowa's head coach.
Let's face it; this is Big Ten country and trophies as well as Rose Bowls are what its all about. Losing to your rivals on a regular basis is the quickest way to find yourself on the unemployment line in the Big Ten.
Perhaps more so than in any other conference outside of the SEC—right, Gene Chizik?
Speaking of Chizik, that brings us up to Saturday's matchup in Ames (see what I did there?).
Both teams come in struggling some against the one thing that may prevent them from winning—the passing game.
Will Jake Rudock grow up before our eyes and lead his team to victory in hostile territory or will the Hawkeyes defensive backfield lead them down a path of failure once again against an ISU passing attack that can stretch you every way possible?
If Kirk Ferentz wants to find a way to quell the ground swell calling for his firing, stopping the ISU pass attack and thus the win streak in their own backyard sure would be a heck of a way to do it.
There is also one lesson history can tell us about this Saturday's game and that is to key on how many points Iowa is putting up. In the eight previous losses, the Hawkeyes have failed to score more than 14 points in all but two of those games and have allowed ISU to score more than 14 points in six of those losses.
So, if Iowa is struggling to score points early on, this could be another disastrous game for Ferentz and his critics will have yet another notch in their argument for his firing.
This is about the last thing Iowa fans want to see on Saturday:
On the bright side of things for Hawkeye fans, Ferentz did stop a huge five-game win streak (four of which were on his watch) from becoming six early in his career at Iowa and that season ended with Iowa ranked No. 8 in the country.
If Ferentz wants to see another season in Iowa City and hope to see similar results to end 2013 he may need to stop a two-game streak from becoming three this time around. Otherwise the Hawkeyes run the risk of becoming second fiddle in their own state and worse than that in the Big Ten and that's a fate no one wants to see in the IC.
Andy Coppens is the lead Big Ten writer for Bleacher Report. For more on all things Big Ten, follow him on Twitter.
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