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Fans and players at Kinnick Stadium do the Hawkeye Wave during Iowa football’s open practice on Friday. Matthew Bain/Hawk Central

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IOWA CITY, Ia. — One of college football’s most heartwarming traditions of 2017 is back for another season.

The Hawkeye Wave continued at Kinnick Stadium Saturday, with fans, referees and players from both Iowa and Northern Illinois all participating. The Wave took the sport by storm last season. No question it was coming back.

A huge outline of a hand was plastered on one of the UI Children’s Hospital window to reciprocate the love. Families in the hospital waved back with oversized yellow hands.

Earlier in the week, Northern Illinois showed its support with a video message for the hospitalized kids. Players and coaches shared uplifting messages ahead of Saturday’s game. A few Huskies traded motivational wristbands with some of the patients as well.

“Excited to have the opportunity to trade motivational wristbands with some of the families in @UIchildrens, the Northern Illinois football account tweeted pregame. “Our guys will be wearing them during the game! Proud of our Leaders for writing notes and posters for the families! #FTK #IowaWave #theHardWay”

All evidence points to the Hawkeye Wave continuing for the foreseeable future. Its organic growth and heartening premise make it an easy win in the often-negative world of college football.    

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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