Iowa football excited to have Heartland Trophy back in Iowa City

The Hawkeyes downed the Wisconsin Badgers, 24-10, at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday. Iowa has now won two of its last three matchups with Wisconsin.


Grace Smith

The Hawkeyes rush the Heartland Trophy during a football game between Iowa and Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. With the win, the Hawkeyes improved their series record against the Badgers to 49-45. The Hawkeyes, defeated the Badgers, 24-10.

Sam Knupp, Sports Reporter

Iowa football has struggled against Wisconsin during the Kirk Ferentz era. The Hawkeyes’ head coach of nearly 25 years has lost to the Badgers 13 times.

On Saturday afternoon, Ferentz picked up his ninth career win against Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes downed the Badgers, 21-10, at Kinnick Stadium.

Before Saturday, Iowa hadn’t beaten Wisconsin in front of a crowd at Kinnick since 2008. No fans were in attendance when the Hawkeyes beat the Badgers in 2020 because of COVID-19.

“Just really proud of our players for getting this victory, proud of them getting the trophy back,” Ferentz said. “We’ll have that in our building for a while.”

Ferentz added that, before the game, he told his players they would have to earn a win against Wisconsin and not expect any freebies.

Given the Hawkeyes’ recent shortcomings against the Badgers, Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras said it felt good to win the Heartland Trophy — which has spent seven of the past 10 years in Madison.

“It’s funny because the game in ‘20 was really sweet,” Petras said, “… A lot of guys that played in that have really fond memories, but there were no fans. That’s the one downside of that game two years ago.”

Petras is the first Iowa quarterback since Ricky Stanzi to beat Wisconsin twice in a career.  Stanzi did it in 2008 and 2010.

Petras, however, was humble about his achievement, attributing his results to the play of his teammates.

Iowa safety Kaevon Merriweather said he’s dreamt of carrying the Heartland Trophy out of Kinnick since he was a freshman. He got his opportunity to do so Saturday.

“It was beautiful,” Merriweather said. “It was something I always wanted to do starting when I was a freshman seeing older guys being able to carry it out of the stadium. I finally got my chance to do it. So, it was definitely surreal.”

Linebacker Jack Campbell, who led Iowa’s defense with 11 tackles Saturday, said getting a win against Wisconsin was an honor.

“We busted our butts for the full 60 today,” Campbell said. “I’m just so proud of those 10 other guys that go out onto the field with me in the defensive unit.”

Defensive lineman Deontae Craig also proved to be a key player for Iowa on Saturday, blocking a punt inside Wisconsin’s 20-yard line. Craig also racked up 1.5 sacks and five tackles on the day.

“This was my first time getting a chance to play against Wisconsin,” Craig said, “Freshman year, I was dressed but didn’t play, and sophomore year, I was hurt. So getting to go out on the field anytime is special, but especially playing for a trophy this time of the year.”