Much like Iowa football is to Penn State, so is Northwestern to Iowa. At least, that's how it's seemed the last several years. When the Hawkeyes and Wildcats get together, you can just about throw out the stat sheets and take a stab in the dark.
The picture above is a "vintage" photo of Matt Sherman back in 1995 facing down the Wildcats. Funny how far ahead of their time the Hawkeyes were with those uniforms. They'd be in style now (just look at Oregon's unis). At the time, I couldn't stand them.
But I digress...
A year ago, RB Adonis Smith was quoted as saying coach Fitzgerald "hates Iowa." I think "hate" might have been a harsh word, and Fitzgerald somewhat confirmed that. Still, there's no love lost on the part of the Northwestern head man and the Hawkeyes.
Iowa was his hurdle to cross, and he's crossed it the last three times consecutively.
This year, both teams have struggled mightily. Iowa is 3-2 with losses to Iowa State and Penn State. They struggled defensively against the Cyclones and offensively against the Nittany Lions.
Northwestern is 2-3 and have lost the last three in a row. Their offense has looked flashy at times, but has been inconsistent. Their defense has been downright unimpressive.
For one team, this may be the opportunity to get their season back on track. For the other, there will be hard questions ahead.
What will it take for Iowa to break the "Northwestern Jinx" and snag their first Big Ten win of the 2011 season?