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MMQB - Which Big Ten Team is Your Low-Key Biggest Rival

Not everyone can be Ohio State or Michigan

NCAA Football: Penn State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State has been a member of the Big Ten since 1990, and has gotten very acquainted with its Midwest foes. I can point to a memorable game against pretty much every B1G team, and cite it as a reason for not liking that team.

Some teams inevitably rise to the top of any such list, and if you asked most Penn Staters which team they despised the most, I’d wager that about 90% of voters would pick either Ohio State or Michigan.

But what if those two weren’t an option on the poll? Which team sneakily draws your ire the most after the “Big Two”?

For me it’s Iowa.

And for me it started in 2008.

Penn State was undefeated, needing a win on the road at Kinnick to secure their berth into the national championship game, and perhaps even prompting Joe Paterno to retire on top.

Instead, the Lions got slapped around in the cold at Kinnick Stadium, infamously going without heaters on the sidelines, and STILL could have closed the game out with a win. Yet one of the worst defensive pass interference calls I’ve seen in my life late in the fourth gave new life to the Hawkeyes, and a few moments later Iowa kicked the game-winning field goal.

In 2009, Adrian Clayborn terrorized Penn State, and in 2010 the Hawkeyes embarrassed the Lions 24-3, prompting Iowa fans to chant “We own Penn State.”

Then Paterno retired, and suddenly Kirk Ferentz couldn’t just out-Penn State the Lions. Bill O’Brien obliterated the Hawkeyes 38-14 in his first season, and James Franklin continued the tradition with a 41-14 pasting just a couple years later.

And yet.

In 2020, a pandemic-savaged Penn State team polished off its historic 0-5 start with a 41-21 drubbing at the hands of the Hawkeyes.

In 2021, the #4 Lions jumped out to a 17-3 lead before starting QB Sean Clifford succumbed to an injury, and Penn State spent the rest of the evening slowly choking to death, finally losing to #3 Iowa on the road, 23-20. After which, the Iowa fans rushed the field.

Have you ever seen a higher ranked, home team rush the field after a win?

Add in the fact that the Iowa fans, coaches, and players all accused Penn State of faking injuries, and doubled down on it after the game. Those accusations included defensive tackle PJ Mustipher, who was injured for the season against Iowa.

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than Kinnick Stadium, Iowa.

But what about you? Which team do you secretly loathe with a passion, outside of the traditional Big Two in the Big Ten?