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The Heartburn Trophy

The UW’s rivalry with Iowa is more than a century old. But they seldom meet for Homecoming.

October 21, 2021
Iowa-WI game

The UW played its first football game against the Iowa Hawkeyes in 1894, one of the longest-running rivalries in college football. The winner of each year’s game is awarded the Heartland Trophy, a sort of bovine version of Paul Bunyan’s Axe. But in nearly 130 years of games, the Badgers have met Iowa in Homecoming games only 13 times. The last time the two played in the UW’s Homecoming game was 2009; prior to that, it was 1997. Still, the Badger’s Homecoming history with the Hawkeyes has some notable highlights.

1924

Wisconsin Athletic Review cover from 1924

The Badgers faced Iowa for the first time on Homecoming on November 15, 1924. It must have seemed like a safe choice, as the UW was then 6–0 against the Hawkeyes. But Iowa won 21–7.

Photo: UW Archives, S06246

1946

Bonfire riot after 1946 Homecoming game

Immediately after World War II, the UW played Iowa in three Homecoming games in a four-year stretch. The arrival of veterans on the GI Bill made Homecomings rowdy events — in 1946, the traditional bonfire turned into a riot, and bonfires were soon banned. The UW lost 21–7.

Photo: UW Archives, S03601

1949

New Bucky Badger mascot at 1949 Homecoming game

In 1949, a Homecoming game against Iowa featured a new star: Bucky Badger. The mascot was a hit and has been a campus fixture for the last 72 years. The UW won 35–13.

Photo: UW Archives, S00576

1972

Ray Dvorak directing the UW Marching Band in 1972

After a 19-year break — the longest gap between Badger-Hawkeye Homecoming games — the UW and Iowa met in 1972. Long-time band director Ray Dvorak (who held that job from 1934 to 1968) came out of retirement to conduct the UW Marching Band, taking over from some uppity newbie named Mike Leckrone. The UW won 16–14.

Photo: UW Archives, Del Desens

1979

The first Bucky Wagon, shown in 1979.

In the 1970s, the Bucky Wagon — a 1932 fire engine with almost no safety features — joined Homecoming traditions. It’s shown here storming the field for the 1979 contest. Iowa won that one 24–13.

Photo: UW Archives, S03589

2009

The Heartland Trophy

The UW-Iowa game began in 1894 and continued for 110 years without a cute name to give it identity. However, in 2004, someone decided that, to inject emotion, the rivalry needed a trophy: to be specific, the Heartland Trophy. If you think that sounds like bull, it also looks like bull. Prior to 2021, the only UW Homecoming game that decided the Heartland Trophy’s fate was in 2009. Iowa won 20–10. Who will win it this year, in the second Homecoming Heartland Classic?

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