As Nebraska football and Iowa Hawkeyes' fans renew the annual debate about whether the game is a rivalry, one coach can take solace in the fact he's had quite a bit of success recently. As one Iowa columnist recently put it, Ferentz, "stands mightily atop" the rivalry with the Cornhuskers.

Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register wrote about how the "rivalry" has been rather one-sided since the Nebraska football team joined the Big Ten. That includes four straight wins for Iowa that haven't been particularly close.

Last year's 31-28 victory over the Huskers in Scott Frost's year was the closest of the previous four games. Leistikow says that Iowa understands how to stay motivated for Friday's game. The team also knows how to step on the Nebraska football team's throat. "If we win,” Iowa offensive lineman Kyler Schott said simply and truthfully, “we end their season.” He wrote.

Nebraska football season on the line

Leistikow points out this is plenty of motivation for a team that is still on the short end of the series record in the history of the "rivalry." The Cornhuskers lead the all-time series 29-17-3.

But quite a few of those Nebraska wins came decades ago.

In the 2010s, Iowa was 5-3 against the Nebraska football team. This year the Huskers are fighting for their first bowl berth in three years. Iowa is 8-3 and looking at yet another winning season that's been the regular under Ferentz as well. The Iowa Hawkeyes head coach has had one losing season in the last 13 years.

The Nebraska football team is trying to turn it around after two straight 4-8 seasons. The fact that a loss ends their year is something the Hawkeyes are well aware of. “I expect to get their best shot,” Iowa senior middle linebacker Kristian Welch told the Register.

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Iowa's motivation in question?

Leistikow says the Hawkeyes would be excused if they were emotionally spent. The team has had to grind out wins in its last three games. That includes a 19-10 victory last week against an Illinois team that has already guaranteed its own bowl game for the first time in quite a while. Before that, a two-point loss to Wisconsin and a big win over Minnesota.

Still, the writer says Iowa's motivation to beat the Nebraska football team should be as high as the Huskers' are to beat the Hawkeyes.

He says there will be a perception that the tide is turning in the Big Ten West if the Huskers win. There will be people who think a 6-6 record by Frost in his second season in Lincoln means the rebuild is moving along.

Perception, as Leistikow points out, can be a reality in the college football world. A win by the Nebraska football team would not just snap a four-game losing streak. It could signal the Huskers are ready to take control again. The writer believes that's more than enough reason for Iowa to be up and ready for Friday's game.

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