The first college football game I ever saw from the stands was the 2005 Iowa-Minnesota game at Kinnick Stadium. It was a 52-28 drubbing that scarred me for life. Thanks a lot, Ed Hinkel. Coupled with the fact that I live in Iowa, where I can't leave the house without running into a Hawkeye fan, that miserable experience in Iowa City -- and several unfortunate games since then that I will not mention here, for fear of drudging up traumatic memories best left buried -- has led me to develop a deep hatred for the Iowa Hawkeyes over the years.
With this being Hate Week, I'm sure I am not alone in that. I know there are some who will argue that Paul Bunyan's Axe is the Gophers' most coveted trophy, but for me, the Floyd of Rosedale is the one that I want kept in Minneapolis year in and year out. Losing that pig means having to suffer through a year of endless gloating from Hawkeye fans, and I just don't have the stomach for that. The peace and quiet I've enjoyed since last year's 51-14 beatdown has been sheer bliss -- though some of their jaws have come unwired with each passing week this season.
To give credit where credit is due, the Hawkeyes have put together a special season thus far. Just four months ago, season ticket sales were down, expectations were low, and a fair share of fans were calling for Kirk Ferentz to be fired. This was not a football program with a lot of optimism and positive momentum. Now, Saturday's battle for the Floyd of Rosedale will take place in front of a sellout crowd, Hawkeye fans are complaining about being disrespected in the College Football Playoff rankings, and we have a re-invented and re-invigorated Kirk Ferentz on our hands.
Hatred aside, I have begrudging respect for their remarkable turnaround this season. Their schedule has been advantageous, with a few tough hurdles here and there, but to be undefeated at this point in the season is no small accomplishment, no matter who you've played. But enough of that. Back to HATE WEEK.
The reason I bring up all that nonsense is to illustrate that there is a lot more than the Floyd of Rosedale at stake on Saturday in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes are one win shy of a 10-0 record, their best start in school history. Lose to the Gophers and not only does Floyd come back to Minneapolis, but their perfect season is over, their playoff chances are all but dashed, and their commanding lead in the Big Ten West is a little more tenuous with the Wisconsin Badgers right on their heels.
This season has not gone according to plan, but the Gophers have a lot left to play for with three games left in the regular season. Floyd, the Axe, and a bowl game are all within their grasp. We know the Hawkeyes will be ready to play on Saturday. It will be a sold out game under the lights at Kinnick Stadium, complete with alternate uniforms and an undefeated season on the line. Not to mention painful memories from last season's bloodbath at TCF Bank Stadium. They're going to come out fired up. Can the Gophers match their fire? I think so. But we'll have to wait all Hate Week to find out.
In the meantime, here is this to hold you over:
That never gets old. Happy Hate Week, everyone! Let the hate flow.