What is the Heroes Game? Nebraska-Iowa Rivalry Explained

    The Iowa Hawkeyes and Nebraska Cornhuskers collide together on Black Friday in the Heroes Game with the Heroes Trophy and bowl eligibility on the line.

    A rivalry that started in 1891 continues for their 54th meeting Friday as the Nebraska Cornhuskers take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Heroes Game. While Nebraska will compete for a berth in a bowl game, the two teams will also compete to win the Heroes Trophy.

    Here’s a quick look into the rivalry and how the Heroes Trophy came to be.

    What is the Heroes Trophy?

    Even though the teams have been playing each other for over 100 years, the name “Heroes Game” and the Heroes Trophy have only existed since 2011. The game is designed to recognize people who have shown acts of heroism in their hometowns. Hy-Vee, the game’s sponsor, was behind the idea.

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    The first game between the two teams was played on Thanksgiving Day in 1891, with Iowa winning 22-0. That’s how the tradition of playing on Thanksgiving or Black Friday began, but throughout the series, they haven’t always played on Thanksgiving.

    Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten caused some stir after the conference said they would not play on the Friday after Thanksgiving. That changed in 2021 — until 2025 when the two teams will play on Black Friday.

    Since 2013, Iowa has dominated the series, winning eight of the last 10 meetings. It’s been Nebraska though that has had control of the series overall as they have gone 30-20-3. Since they have been presenting the Heroes Trophy, Iowa leads the series 8-4 over Nebraska.

    The Hawkeyes will reportedly be looking to replace their offensive coordinator following the Nebraska game and subsequent Big Ten Championship game appearance. It has been reported that Brian Ferentz will “not return” in 2024 when the Hawkeyes kick off next season. Ferentz’s name is at the center of the college football coaching carousel.

    Iowa goes into the matchup with a 9-2 record and has already clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Cornhuskers are sitting at a 5-6 record needing a win to be bowl eligible this season. They will face off Friday at noon ET on CBS with Nebraska being slight favorites at home by 1.5 points.

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