Nebraska, Iowa to play 'Heroes Game'

CHICAGO -- The Nebraska-Iowa game has a new name.

Now that the schools are both members of the Big Ten, their annual Black Friday matchup will be called "The Heroes Game." The schools unveiled the name, along with a logo for it, at a breakfast news conference preceding the final day of Big Ten media days. The actual trophy has yet to be built and probably won't be revealed until the week of this year's Nov. 25 game.

The schools are taking this "Heroes" tag seriously. They plan to recognize one Iowa citizen and one Nebraskan for an extraordinary act prior to each year's game. Friends, neighbors or co-workers can nominate people for the heroes distinction, and those chosen will be honored on the field during the game and will have their name and hometown etched on the Heroes Game trophy. The schools also plan to use proceeds from the game to benefit the Iowa and Nebraska chapters of the American Red Cross.

"Not only is it a trophy game, but we wanted it to have meaning beyond that," Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said. "I think the heroes concept has a great feel to it."

The Heroes Game becomes the 14th trophy game in the Big Ten. It's the third conference trophy game on Iowa's schedule, along with Floyd of Rosedale (Minnesota) and the Heartland Trophy (Wisconsin).

Nebraska joins the trophy party as it enters the Big Ten, something that's already different than the Big 12.

"I think we had a trophy with Missouri, but frankly I don't think I've ever seen the trophy and I don't know what it's called," Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said. "This is new to us, and I think it's a good thing."

Osborne and Barta said the trophy game was natural once Nebraska came into the league, since the two states share a border and many similar characteristics. It's safe to say the Cornhuskers are more excited about playing Iowa than they were facing Texas, at whom Osborne took a veiled swipe during his podium remarks.

"We have had a couple of what might be called rivalry games in Nebraska, and some of them were maybe not so healthy," Osborne said. "They were not of our choosing. Somebody decided we were their rival, and as a result it got a little bit nasty at times. I never did understand that. ...

"[Iowa and Nebraska] come from similar states, with high-level character, good work ethics, a lot of agriculture and good family values. So I think it will be very good."

We'll find out Nov. 25.