At Wildside 101 in September, Coach Pat Fitzgerald was asked if he hated Iowa. Being professional, Fitz maneuvered around the question talked about the heat of competition in the Big Ten. Moments later, a student asked Fitz which school he would like to beat if he only beat one Big Ten team. “Iowa,” Fitz responded without hesitation.
A football rivalry between Iowa and Northwestern has developed in recent years, as the 'Cats have won the last four meetings, even though Iowa leads the all-time series 46-23-3. Here's a look at some of the most memorable games between the two teams:
Oct 25, 1958 (Iowa City, Iowa): #7 Iowa 26, #8 Northwestern 20: One week after the 'Cats moved to 4-0 with a 55-24 over Michigan, Northwestern arrived in Iowa City for the 3-0-1 Hawkeyes' homecoming game. Feeding off a spectacular one-handed interception return for a touchdown by All-American defensive end Curt Merz, Iowa slipped past Northwestern by six points. The next day, the Hawkeyes were ranked #1 in the United Press international poll, their first #1 ranking ever. The 'Cats lost three of their next four games and did not make a bowl.
Oct 3, 1959 (Iowa City, Iowa): #2 Northwestern 14, #5 Iowa 10: Coming off a 45-13 opening week win against Oklahoma (yes, the 'Cats beat Oklahoma), Northwestern made an early trip to Iowa City. Under the coaching of Ara Parseghian, the 'Cats won a defensive battle. Northwestern remained at #2 in the rankings until a Nov. 7 loss to Wisconsin. Northwestern followed with two more losses to go 6-3 and miss out on a bowl ticket.
Nov 11, 1995 (Evanston, Ill.): #5 Northwestern 31, Iowa 20: In 20-degree weather and 20-30 mph winds at Dyche Stadium, Northwestern preserved its perfect Big Ten record with a win in the final home game of the season. The victory, along with a win over Purdue the following week, gave Northwestern an 8-0 Big Ten record and a trip to the Rose Bowl. The Wildcats' fourth straight win was, conversely, the Hawkeyes' fourth straight loss.
Nov 7, 2009 (Iowa City, Iowa): Northwestern 17, #8 Iowa 10: Iowa came into their 2009 home meeting with Northwestern undefeated and riding a 14-game win streak, and left with a shocking loss and an injured quarterback. With Northwestern starting quarterback Mike Kafka and backup quarterback Dan Persa splitting snaps — both were also dealing with injuries — the 'Cats took a 14-10 halftime lead, and somehow held on to it. Persa ran 17 times for 67 yards and threw a touchdown pass to Drake Dunsmore. Corey Wootton knocked out Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi with a hit that injured Stanzi's ankle and gave Northwestern's Marshall Thomas a touchdown on the fumble recovery. NU finished the season with two more wins to make the Outback Bowl. Northwestern's 2009 victory over Iowa — which was ranked No. 8 in one poll and No. 4 in the other — remains one of the most memorable victories in Wildcat football history.
Nov 13, 2010 (Evanston, Ill.): Northwestern 21, #13 Iowa 19: In one of Northwestern’s most impressive comebacks in recent memory, the 'Cats were down 17-7 at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth, after a Brian Peters interception, quarterback Dan Persa led the offense on an 85-yard drive, ending in a Jeremy Ebert reception touchdown with 6:26 remaining. Minutes later, at the end of a 91-yard drive, Persa hit Demetrius Fields in the end zone for a 20-yard game-winning touchdown pass. Persa never got to celebrate with Fields, as he fell to the ground with a Achilles’ tendon rupture. He ended the game with 318 passing yards and 50 rushing yards, and gave Northwestern its final victory of the season.