IOWA CITY, Ia. – How do you give the Iowa-Nebraska football rivalry a little more Black Friday value?
Let's be honest, since this series became part of our Thanksgiving weekend in 2011, things have sort of fizzled. And this Friday's 11 a.m. tussle at Kinnick Stadium lost much of its luster last weekend when both teams were beaten.
How do you sell that to the millions watching on ABC?
"More Iowa wins," Hawkeye running back Mark Wesiman said with a grin. "We've only beat them once … So more wins from us and good back-and-forth, tough games.
"It's a rivalry already, but it's becoming a better one."
Remember when this matchup was on everyone's wish list?
Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011 after posting consecutive 10-win seasons and top-20 finishes in the Associated Press poll.
The Hawkeyes ended 2009 at No. 7 and were among the top 25 throughout the fall of 2010.
Neither was ranked a year ago, and neither is ranked currently.
If not for a favorable television time slot, this game would be destined for the discount rack.
"Playing on Thanksgiving is something you dream of as a kid," Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis said. "Honestly, it's a blessing."
Even the blessed needed to broaden their appeal, and this border battle could use the following:
Significance: The Hawkeyes (7-4 overall, 4-3 Big Ten) fell out of contention for the West Division title with last week's loss to Wisconsin. The Cornhuskers (8-3, 4-3) did the same when they stumbled against Minnesota.
So if you want title implications, tune to the Big Ten Network at 2:30 p.m. and see the Gophers and Badgers.
Iowa versus Nebraska is the undercard.
"It's not how I planned my senior year," Davis said, "but we can still do something."
History: Rivalries age like wine. So it's unrealistic to think any connoisseur will find this showdown as pleasing as Iowa-Minnesota or Iowa-Iowa State.
Those games transcend generations. The Cornhuskers and Hawkeyes didn't even play from 1947-78, 1983-98 or 2001-10.
"It feels like a big game," Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz said, "but as far as a rivalry goes, we really haven't played that often, historically.
"If you put it in the perspective of some of the other teams in our conference, it's probably not the same that way."
Taking a look back at Wisconsin and forward to Nebraska this week with Andrew Logue and Nate Kaeding. David Scrivner/HawkCentral
Iconic figures: Bo Pelini, as the Nebraska faithful will tell you, is no Tom Osborne. Heck, if the Cornhuskers don't win Friday, he may not be the coach anymore.
"Can we talk about Iowa, please?" Pelini responded this week when reporters asked about his future.
"I'm sorry, I don't mean to cut you off, but we have a short week and we have a long time after Friday to go into the what-ifs and other things."
Ferentz, meanwhile, secured his place in Hawkeye lore long ago, but the black and gold faithful remain restless.
A trophy people can embrace: If someone tried to sneak off with the Heroes Trophy, would the Per Mar folks even notice? It's not a knock on them.
We can all spot Floyd of Rosedale from a mile away. And even if you hated the old Cy-Hawk Trophy, at least you knew darn well what it looked like.
Anything organic is better than a corporate creation. Then again, any kind of hardware might look good to Iowa. The Cyclones won the Cy-Hawk in September and the Gophers reclaimed Floyd two weeks ago.
"We don't want to leave the trophy case empty,'' linebacker Quinton Alston said. "That's not what this team is about.''
A signature moment: Nobody will ever forget last November when Auburn's Chris Davis returned a missed field goal 109 yards to beat No. 1 Alabama.
And nobody may remember this Iowa-Nebraska game unless something spellbinding unfolds.
A heart-stopping finish, something that will divert the attention of all those shoppers, would be a nice way to kick-start this rivalry.
"It definitely wouldn't hurt to have a moment like that," Weisman said. "Maybe people who don't know about it would know a little more.
"But people in Iowa and people in Nebraska know what it means."