It’s the rivalry no one wants to embrace. Or maybe it’s the rivalry Iowa and Nebraska deserve, but neither team actually needs.

Yes, it’s the Heroes Game. Look, the Hawkeyes already have great rivalries. A couple even have great trophies, too. A pig. A bull

Other milder rivalries have developed naturally… Penn State. Northwestern

Some are “protected,” forever, even if no longer officially: Purdue

Some bring the bright lights and big city of Chicago. And #MACtion: NIU.

Okay that’s a stretch. But the Hawks have played the Huskies six times since 1999 and the Huskers nine.

But this is a border war. Black Friday. In reality it’s not so fetch. So maybe we should stop trying to make Iowa-Nebraska happen.

The Huskers haven’t even won a Big Ten championship since they joined the conference they expected to dominate. (Of course, neither has Iowa in that span.) One division title each.

Heavily hyped Huskers coach Scott Frost said at the beginning of the year he’s not buying it either, “with all due respect” to Iowa.

The Hawkeyes just sandwiched a 3-game skid between two shutouts — and what a way to end it: 63-0. And if you read last week’s column, you weren’t at all surprised. Maybe you were even a little disappointed, because the totally irrelevant prediction said it would be 64-0.

Frost told us all at Big Ten Media Days: “I know if we’re getting better day by day, we’ll be really dangerous and hard to beat in the very near future. People better get us now.”

That was July. And in the first five games, Colorado, Troy, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin and Northwestern got ’em. Some losses look familiar. And then there’s Troy. But now, in November, Nebraska has won four of five leading up to the finale.

Some Hawkeyes fans that were openly mocking the Huskers earlier this year were expressing fear after that 3-game losing streak of their own. They probably feel a little bit better after that 63-point win. 

After all, Iowa’s the better team. But how confident are the experts?

Lets go to the picks.

Celebrity prediction
The Hawkeyes’ all-time leader in receptions returns for a second season of picks.
Kevonte Martin-Manley: Iowa 28, Nebraska 10

Featured predictions

Steve Batterson: Iowa 17, Nebraska 10
Expect points to be challenge for both teams in the regular-season finale at Kinnick Stadium, but expect the consistency of Iowa’s defense to be a difference maker. The Hawkeyes pass rush should present a few problems, just like Cornhuskers QB Adrian Martinez presents a few problems for Iowa with his ability to carry the ball or wing it to a talented group of receivers. Iowa’s depth and experience on defense will ultimately decide this one, keeping the Heroes Trophy in Iowa City for at least one more year.

Hawkeye Headquarters
Adam Rossow: Iowa 31, Nebraska 19
Dan Vasko: Iowa 34, Nebraska 17

National predictions
Bill Connelly: Iowa 31, Nebraska 22

Athlon Sports
Steven Lassan: Iowa 
Mitch Light: Iowa 
Mark Ross: Nebraska 

Bleacher Report
David Kenyon: Iowa 31, Nebraska 23

Hawkeye State predictions
The Athletic
Scott Dochterman: Iowa 34, Nebraska 28

The Gazette
Marc Morehouse: Iowa 34, Nebraska 24

Hawk Central
Chad Leistikow: Iowa 29, Nebraska 28

Go Iowa Awesome
Mark Hasty: Iowa 42, Nebraska 30

All Hawkeyes
Pat Harty: Iowa 37, Nebraska 22

Hawkeyes Mic
Brendan Stiles: Iowa 38, Nebraska 24
Tyler Tjelmeland: Iowa 35, Nebraska 17
Jack Brandsgard: Iowa 38, Nebraska 28
John Patchett: Iowa 38, Nebraska 17

#IowaSim18 simulation
Cody Hills: Iowa 28, Nebraska 23

Irrelevant prediction
And finally, the totally irrelevant prediction based on playing EA Sports’ NCAA Football 2004 on a PS2, as is the tradition since 2015.
Ryan Jaster: Hawkeyes 35, Nebraska 18. After a failed fake punt on Iowa’s opening drive, Nebraska strikes with a 56-yard pass on its first play. Iowa punches one in from the 5 with 45 seconds left in the half, and it looks like the teams will be heading to the locker rooms tied at 7. Not so fast. Nebraska fumbles after a return to the 45 and gives Iowa the ball back with 41 seconds left. Three quick pass plays lead to a score with 11 seconds left. But a squib kick gone wrong gives Nebraska the ball at the 45 and one pass later they are in field goal range. A 44-yarder splits the uprights and the Hawkeyes’ lead is cut to 14-10 at halftime. Opening-drive passes get Iowa downfield in a hurry and then the running backs finish the final 5 yards for the touchdown. An interception is thrown on the first play of the next drive and again big pass plays set up a rushing TD. Iowa leads 28-10 to end the 3rd. In one of the oddest plays you’ll see, a 4th down conversion attempt against a punt return formation turns into an interception by the returner. (That’s Ed Hinkel in NCAA 2004.) As a bonus, he catches a 33-yard pass on the next play. But the very next pass becomes a 77-yard pick six to cut Iowa’s lead to 10 after a 2-point conversion. The onside kick fails and five plays later the running back finds the endzone for the fourth time to put this one out of reach.

Prognosis: Overall, the vibe has been positive from the experts this year. Many games have been unanimous, this one has a lone detractor and even the competitive games slanted toward Iowa. I guess in the grand scheme of things, that makes 7-4 a disappointment. And 7-5 might just be a disaster with expectations like these. On a side note, it’s the first time Adam, Dan and I have been so close in our picks (33-18 average within 4 on each score) and many of the others foresee a 30s to high teens or low 20s win. We’ll see. Just a pinch of pain is predicted. Not enough to move the needle. 

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