It’s the make-or-break game on Iowa’s 2018 schedule — Hawkeyes versus Badgers to open the Big Ten slate.
“It can expose either team if there is any lack of discipline from January until now,” Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley said. “I think it sets the tone for the rest of the season.”
The matchup will be just the second all-time meeting between the programs to come in September.
A Hawks win would displace Wisconsin as the West Division favorites — something Stanley said is on Iowa’s minds.
“Everybody has to live up to their standards that they’ve performed at the past couple years,” Stanley said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying not only to get to those levels, but exceed it.”
That will be easier said than done for Stanley and the Hawks as the Badgers have won five of the last six in the series. Wisconsin senior offensive lineman Michael Deiter said the importance of the Heartland Trophy game isn’t lost on them either.
“When you get a rivalry game, trophy game like Iowa, I think it adds a little bit extra pizazz to it,” Deiter said. “They’re thinking about that game now, so we should be thinking about that game now…you can’t get lost in that, but you gotta know what you’re working for.”
Which is a spot at the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis in December.
“Starting the Big Ten off with a win, especially against a team like them who you know is going to be a contender in the West, it’s a good way to really get things rolling in the season,” Iowa senior defensive lineman Parker Hesse said. “Once we finish non-conference play, we’re really going to be looking forward to that game in Kinnick.”
The September 22 contest doesn’t have a kickoff time yet. It’s probably the best candidate on Iowa’s home schedule for a nationally-televised night game, which will get the juices flowing even more on both sidelines.