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Frenemies: Favorite Players From Each Big Ten School

It’s sometimes hard to say nice things about non-Hawks...

‘The Sporting News 100 Years of Sports Images’
OSU’s Chris Spielman was a Dude
Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

If you’re here, you’re a Hawk fan. Probably a step up from a Hawk fan, actually. And, if you are like me, the Iowa Hawkeyes are more of an obsession than something I simply follow or am interested in. This makes it hard to care for, like, or even admire gridiron enemies that aren’t wearing black and gold. Living in Minnesota, I have a great deal of dislike for the Gophers. I changed my extreme dislike from Iowa State to Minny when I moved up here. I often will cheer for Big Ten teams when they compete against non-B1G teams. That said, the Gophers are a team that brings me joy when they lose; I think it goes back to the “Who hates Iowa?” cheers when they aren’t even playing us. Anyway, maybe as I get older, a tiny place in my heart has opened up for a sliver of love to sneak in when it comes to non-Hawkeyes. Here’s my list of favorite non-Hawkeyes by B1G schools:

Illinois - Simeon Rice

Simeon Rice ended his career as the B1G all-time sack leader (44.5) and tackles for loss leader (69). He was a two-time All-American. He went 3-1 vs our Hawkeyes. He was a bad, bad man on the football field.

Indiana - Antwaan Randle El

Antwaan Randle El was the future of college football in the late 90’s. Randle El also played basketball at IU as well as baseball. In ‘97-’98 the Hawkeyes beat Indiana 62-0 without Randle El. In ‘98-’99 the Hoosiers turned the tables and beat the Hawkeyes. It was the first time in Big Ten history that a team that was beaten by 60 points the previous year won the contest the next. Yay! Not a surprise to Hawk fans, but Randle El was the first player in Division I history to pass for 40 TDs and to rush for 40 TDs. Randle El went 3-0 against our beloved Hawkeyes. Tip of the cap to you, sir.

Randle El was a one-man team
Getty Images

Maryland: Stefon Diggs

This pick for me is skewed a little bit in that I was a big fan of Diggs when he played for the Minnesota Vikings. In Diggs’ only appearance against the Hawkeyes, he caught 9 balls for 130 yards and a touchdown in Maryland’s 38-31 victory over the good guys.

Michigan State: Kirk Cousins

See above regarding my allegiance to the Vikings. Most Hawk fans are aware of the fact that Kirk has an Iowa connection. His grandfather, Ralph Woodard, played for the Hawks, and his mom attended the U of I. Cousins grew up a Hawkeye fan. Kirk went 1-2 against the Hawkeyes. In 2009 the Hawks won 15-13 when “7 got 6” (Stanzi to McNutt). Cousins was 16-32 for 225 yards and 1 touchdown. The Hawks spanked Sparty in 2010 by a score of 37-6. Cousins was 21-29 for 198 yards with 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. Cousins and Sparty got their revenge in 2011 beating the Hawks 37-21. Kirk was 18-31 for 260 yards with 3 touchdowns.

Michigan: Anthony Carter

Ok, there’s starting to be a trend here with B1G players who went on to play for the Vikings. Anthony Carter laced ‘em up a few times against the Hawkeyes. Iowa beat Michigan in 1981 by a very 2022 score of 9-7. Anthony Carter had 5 catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. In 1982 Carter was named the MVP of the Big Ten Conference. The Wolverines beat the Hawkeyes 29-7 that year. Carter had 3 catches for 61 yards, 3 punt returns (51 yards), and 2 kickoff returns (52 yards).

Minnesota: Mohamed Ibrahim

Big Mo held an Iowa offer. Dang, that would have been nice to have the big fella play for the Hawks. Despite going 0-4 against Iowa, Ibrahim toted the rock against Iowa’s stout defenses for what felt like ten years. Ibrahim totaled 478 yards on the ground against Iowa. Last fall’s 263 yard, 1 touchdown effort against Phil Parker’s crew earned my respect. Also, I attended this game with my son, nephew, and brother. It would have been a lot colder had the Hawks lost to the Fleckers.

Nebraska: Adrian Martinez

Despite going 0-2 against the Hawkeyes, Adrian Martinez was a player who I thought played the game the right way. In 2019 Martinez threw for 50 yards and rushed for 44 against us. In 2020 Martinez was 18-20 for 174 yards through the air and rushed for 28 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He seemed like a pretty tough dude. Also, he played for Scott Frost so that means Frosty threw him under the bus 24/7.

Northwestern: Darnell Autry

Until recently, I would have gone with Pat Fitzerald. Everyone knows the story of Pat breaking his leg against the Hawks and hating us ever since. I don’t really blame him. He was a good dang football player. Unfortunately, if even some of the allegations against him are true, I’m going to pick a different Wildcat. That brings us to Darnell Autry. Autry led Northwestern to back-to-back Big Ten championships in 1995-1996. In those two years he ran circles around the Hawks for 350 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Ohio State: Chris Spielman

Spielman was a tackling machine

I remember Chris Spielman on a Wheaties box as a high school athlete; the first at the time. I also remember Spielman putting up video game numbers for tackles. I vividly recall his 19 tackle game against the Hawks in 1985. I bet Hayden was none too happy about that. Anyway, that dude can play on my team eight days a week.

Penn State: Saquon Barkley

The Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions have had some epic battles through the years. After Barkley almost singlehandedly beat the Hawks in 2017 when he picked up 358 all-purpose yards against Josey Jewell’s Hawks.

I commented during the game, “He’s Superman.” That 21-19 Hawkeye loss was a tough pill to swallow, but Saquon’s performance was one for the ages.

Purdue: David Bell

Of all of the players I can think of who have absolutely and completely torched our Iowa Hawkeyes, David Freaking Bell ranks right up there. In three contests against the Hawks, Bell had 37 catches for 558 yards and five touchdowns. Are you kidding me?!? Fool Phil Parker once, shame on you. Fool Phil Parker three times? Hawkeye tears aplenty.

Hawk nation was glad to see David Bell move on

Rutgers: Adam Korsak

No offense to Rutgers, but... you’re Rutgers. You have no history in our league. You’re just kind of there. Sorta. So it should be no surprise that your student-athlete who receives this worthy honor is none other than punter Adam Korsak. In the 2019 contest, Korsak punted 10 times for 476 yards (47.6) and had seven punts downed inside the 10. Four of those were downed inside the 5. At Iowa punting is winning, and we acknowledge and love opposing punters.

Hawkeyes love punters!

Wisconsin: JJ Watt

First of all, how in the heck did JJ Watt end up at Central Michigan as a tight end? He then walked on as a Badger and the rest is history. Watt played in two games against the Hawks. In 2009 Iowa bested Wisconsin 20-10. Watt had 8 tackles, 4 TFL, and 1 sack. In 2010 the Badgers won a tight contest 31-30. In that game Watt had 5 tackles, 2 TFL, and 1 sack. And, Watt seems like a good dude who would buy an entire bar a round of drinks. Cheers, JJ.

Your Turn:

Ok, Hawk fans. What think you? Who are the opposing players that you have tipped your cap for?


It would also be fun to see which Hawkeyes would receive votes from opposing fans. I’d have to think Josey Jewell, Bob Sanders, Chuck Long, Adrian Clayborn, Dallas Clark, Tristan Wirfs, Tyler Linderbaum, etc... As always, it’s great to be a Hawkeye! Go Hawks!