According to defensive lineman Noah Shannon, there’s a trophy case in the Hawkeyes weight room. An empty one at that, as Iowa squandered the Cy-Hawk Trophy against Iowa State back in Week 2. He said head coach Kirk Ferentz pointed it out to the team as a point of inspiration.

“Definitely add some added energy into like the locker room and just in practice and overall everything really,” Shannon said.

But, Iowa has an opportunity to fill an empty trophy case on Saturday when Iowa takes on Wisconsin. The two play for the Heartland Trophy, a 72-pound brass bull that has mostly been in Badger possession over the last decade. Wisconsin’s won eight of the last ten, and ten of the previous sixteen matchups since the trophy was introduced in 2004.

Ferentz would prefer to have it than not, obviously.

“It’s a lot better to have them in your building, that’s for sure,” Ferentz said. “But the only way to get them, you have to earn them. That’s especially true in this series, because both teams, whoever has been the winner, has typically played the best and really paid a price to get it.”

He also said he’s had an appreciation for playing for a trophy for quite a while, going back over four decades of Hawkeyes football.

“About trophies, and I didn’t think much of them until we lost one (the Cy-Hawk) in 1981,” Ferentz said. “That was like the first time I really lived through that experience and better appreciated what the trophies meant.”

For senior receiver Nico Ragaini, it’s just about getting a win.

“Last week we didn’t have a trophy right?” Ragaini said, referencing Iowa’s win over Purdue. “It doesn’t feel any different when you’re preparing. It’s another Big Ten team and you’re going to get their best and we gotta go out there and give our best.”

Fellow senior Jack Campbell echoed Ragaini’s sentiment:

“Games don’t mean more. Obviously winning a trophy game is cool, but like it doesn’t mean anything more than other games,” Campbell said. “The opportunity to go out there and win the bull is going to be awesome. But we’ve got to take advantage of it. And it’s 100% going to be earned.”

Regardless of sentimental value, or hoisting a metal sculpture, here’s what a win would mean for the Hawkeyes materialistically.

Iowa can punch their ticket to a bowl game. It wasn’t always a sure thing with the way the season started, but getting their third straight win in Big Ten play would improve their record to 6-4 and give them the opportunity to notch their seventh and eighth wins in the coming weeks.

Ferentz says “there’s no such thing as a bad bowl,” but Iowa could make their case for a more prestigious one.

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