As we head into the 2011 season, quite a lot appears to be changing on the Big Ten landscape. Even more specifically, there are quite a few changes on the Iowa Hawkeye landscape.
The Big Ten now has 12 institutions, which necessitates that the football teams are broken up into two separate divisions. The nature of the divisions means that Iowa will have to preoccupy itself with the teams in its division, which could, conceivably, weaken old rivalries. Of course, it could also build new ones.
When November rolls around, the fortunes of Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern and Minnesota will mean a lot more to the Hawkeyes than the six teams in the other division.
Complicating this, the Big Ten has been considering changing the conference schedule from eight games to nine. Due to the logistical and economic issues that this brings up, it could have a huge influence on the annual CyHawk game.
Though the Iowa-Iowa State matchup is the biggest thing in the state next to the corn harvest, it just wouldn't make economic sense to keep it going in the face of a nine-game conference schedule. As it is, it barely makes economic sense for Iowa now.
In effect, as we move forward into a brave, new Big Ten, I felt it would be interesting to ask ourselves which are the most intense rivalries of all of Iowa's current, and in some cases, semi-regular foes. In other words, out of all of the current Big Ten teams plus Iowa State, which teams excite the most passion from Hawkeye fans?