As any Wisconsin Badgers fan knows, UW only has two main rivals on the football field: the despicable Iowa Hawkeyes and the detestable Minnesota Golden Gophers. These three teams comprise the B1G West Triangle of Hate. Would it be nice to add a fourth team and turn this into a Quadrangle of Hate? Sure, it would be nice, but no team has stepped up to fill that role.
One of the downsides of living in the Twin Cities is that you meet and become (begrudging) friends with Gopher and Hawkeye fans. Sadly, this has happened to me multiple times since moving here. The one upside is, once a year, you can mine them for content for the Wisconsin blog for which you write. I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.
All that is a long way of saying we’ve got RossWB from Go Iowa Awesome and Ben Dawson (aka White Speed Receiver) of Off Tackle Empire, a pair of Minnesota United fans (go Loons) who happen to support two of the most loathsome universities in the country.
What are your thoughts on Wisconsin, both as a football team and as a fan base?
Ben: Predictable, efficient offense, strong defense. And...um...how to be polite here. Y’all made me question humanity long before the events of 2020, so one could say that you’re trendsetters in that regard? I appreciate that badger fans are willing to teach me new combinations of profanity and slurs, many of which I wouldn’t have been able to come up with on my own no matter how hard I tried. If you’d like one other thing, I think the growth of the fan base is astonishing considering how much free space I used to have to roam at games in the mid-to-late 80s when we traveled there.
Ross: Wisconsin is the team everyone else in the Big Ten West wants to be and if they aren’t willing to admit that they’re just lying to themselves. Sure, everyone wishes they were Ohio State, but only 5-6 teams in the entire country can really be a blue blood like Ohio State. But Wisconsin’s success? That feels far more attainable. After all, there were many decades in the past when Wisconsin football was far from a juggernaut, before Barry Alvarez found the secret sauce to turn the Badgers into one of the Big Ten’s most consistent (and successful) programs over the last 30 years. Wisconsin’s sheer bloody-mindedness when it comes to their football is also admirable; everyone and their dog knows exactly what Wisconsin wants to do... and yet they do it anyway and continue churning out behemoth beefy linemen and tremendously productive running backs year after year, decade after decade. And they aren’t exactly half-bad on the other side of the ball, either. Am I jealous of Wisconsin football? It pains me to admit it... but yes. Yes, I am.
As for Wisconsin fans... I hate ‘em. They’re the worst. Nah, not really. My experiences with Wisconsin fans have been mostly positive, even during a trip to Madison last fall while clad in black and gold. As many similarities as there are between the Iowa and Wisconsin programs, there’s also no shortage of similarities between the Iowa and Wisconsin fan bases. I mean, other than Wisconsin fans having tricked themselves into think the style of basketball popularized by Dick Bennett/Bo Ryan/Greg Gard is somehow “good” or desirable... that’s just crazy talk.
Outside of the Badgers, and each other, who is your third biggest rival?
Ben: Michigan? I mean, both were once great programs who haven’t won a whole national title since the LBJ administration. We’ve even got the rivalry trophy in place, but things just aren’t the same since we went to East & West and play them infrequently. And the fact that we’ve been pretty solidly crap between Woodstock and Woodstock 99 probably doesn’t help, since they’ve been a regional power.
Ross: Is it too soon to say “racist coaches”? Yeah, probably...
Outside of Minnesota and Wisconsin, Iowa’s biggest rival is Iowa State, no matter what we try to tell ourselves. Games against Iowa State may not matter in the Big Ten standings or have any significant impact on the quest for Big Ten championships, but they matter in the court of public opinion in the state of Iowa and in the all-important war for bragging rights. Even Iowa fans who no longer live in Iowa probably know a fair number of Iowa State fans through family or friends (or — God help us all — social media). Iowa State is the only team Iowa plays in every sport every single year (except baseball, since Iowa State abandoned that sport several years back — a decision Wisconsin has some familiarity with, I believe...), so there are plenty of opportunities to lord those bragging rights over rival fans.
Which rivalry game should be played at the end of the season for your respective teams?
Ben: I’m not sure. I’m old enough to have seen both Iowa and you guys for stretches as the curtain call, and both were awesome and terrible. Maybe someday we could add another football program of some renown in the region and have some sort of roving end-of-year game where it changes every 5-10 years where we take turns playing each other and then whining about how good the other pair has it. While it’d be nice to maybe add another team from the Great Plains, it seems that Mizzou is doing fine in the SEC and I don’t see much benefit from adding Iowa State.
Ross: My formative fan years (90s, 00s) featured Minnesota as Iowa’s season-ending opponent, so I’m partial to that game. I still have incredibly fond memories of Iowa fans swarming the Metrodome field in 2002 and tearing down the goalposts and trying to get them out the stadium (curse you, revolving doors).
And ending the 2008 regular season with the 55-0 win over the Gophers was a deeply satisfying way to head into bowl season. Iowa-Minnesota is a game with over 100 years of history and they play for the best damn rivalry trophy in college football (sorry, Ax partisans) — that works for me. Ending the year with Iowa-Minnesota just feels. Also, Iowa is 15-5 against Minnesota in the 2000s and who doesn’t like ending the regular season with a win?
Do you think it would be beneficial for Nebraska to restart their football program so that they could join the B1G some day and join our Triangle of Hate?
Ben: Absolutely. If the University of Chicago can restart their program after decades of being in mothballs, you have to think that a group as passionate (just ask them) as Nebraska fans would love the opportunity to have football again. The biggest problem they’d have is that there aren’t any good coaches with connections to the program that’d want to take a crack at the job. I highly doubt that Craig Bohl or Frank Solich would want to take the step down, and there aren’t any other proven commodities that were alumni or previously coached for them.
Ross: I think whatever they’re doing now is working great and they shouldn’t change a thing. And, I mean, they’re a #WomensVolleyballSchool now — it would be wrong to change course from that.
Plus, triangles are a superior shape for hate purposes than quadrangles. That’s just science... er, math.
Say one (1) nice thing about Wisconsin.
Ben: I’ll do you one better and come up with two nice things: New Glarus is a wonderful brewery, and I never realized that Iowa fans could seem wonderful (even if it is just by comparison).
Ross: Cheese curds are a divine foodstuff, so Wisconsonians evangelism for them is much appreciated.