Iowa versus Wisconsin

Border Battle
Bart Knight (left) and Denny Fuller square off in Iowa and Wisconsin colors respectively in anticipation of the big game.


Renewed border battle generating lots of excitement

By Ted Pennekamp


Two well-known local entrepreneurs are getting into the spirit of the reinstatement of the longtime border rivalry between the Wisconsin and Iowa football teams this upcoming Saturday. 

Denny Fuller on the Wisconsin side of the across-the-river rivalry, and Bart Knight on the Iowa side, have a friendly wager on the outcome of Saturday’s clash between the Badgers and the Hawkeyes which will be played before a packed house at Kinnick Stadium. 

“This rivalry is a long-standing tradition and needs to continue,” said Bart. 

“We hope that the rivalry is never interrupted again,” said Fuller. 

If Iowa should win, Bart’s wife Linda will wait on him hand and foot for a week. “It’ll be a nice role reversal,” said Bart. 

Should Wisconsin prevail, Denny’s wife Bonnie will wait on him for a week. “I’m well practiced,” said Bonnie. “It’ll be nothing new, believe me.”

In addition, if Denny wins the bet, Bart will give him five pounds of great Iowa pork chops. If Bart wins, Denny will give him five pounds of delicious Wisconsin cheese.

So, the game is on, and of course, the stakes are high for the renewed, big time border battle. In fact, the 86-game series stands tied at 42-42 with 2 ties, so the winner will go a game up on the dreaded team from across the Mighty Mississippi River which separates the two states. 

Bucky Badger was victorious in the first meeting between the gridiron powerhouses 44-0 in 1894. 

“I hate to say it, but the Badgers just plain stifled the Hawkeyes in that one,” said long-time football fan Bud Jameson, who witnessed the contest. 

Bucky prevailed in the most recent game as well 31-30 in Kinnick Stadium in 2010. The turning point in that back-and-forth battle was the glorious, or infamous, depending upon one’s allegiance, fake punt with about six minutes to go in the game by the Badgers, who got the first down and then drove down the field to score the game-tying touchdown and game-winning extra point. The fake punt from the Badgers, who were on their own 26-yard line, was quite a bold call. Wisconsin players, and maybe even some assistant coaches on the sideline, didn’t know a punt fake was in the works. In fact, only a few Badgers on the field knew that a fake punt had been called, three blockers and of course punter Brad Nortman, who pretended he was going to kick the ball until the Hawkeyes’ outside rushers retreated in order to set up a return. The middle of the field parted like the Red Sea and Nortman “sprinted” in slow motion to what Badgers’ fans heard as the inspiring and soaring strains of the sound track to “Chariots of Fire” for 17 yards and the all-important first down. Tears welled up in Iowa student section eyes during the renewed scoring drive as all hope was being slowly sucked away. 

Who knows what might happen in Saturday’s big contest, anything imaginable. The national pigskin prognosticators have the Badgers favored by 9 1/2 as of this writing, but the Hawkeyes are at home and coming off of a hard-fought win.

One thing is for sure, the renewed rivalry is generating a lot of excitement in both great states.

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