IOWA CITY — Bo Bower likes trophy games, but the Iowa linebacker would like to bring a little more life to the annual battle for Floyd of Rosedale – literally.
Bower suggested Tuesday that the Hawkeyes should be playing for more than the bronze likeness of a pig.
He thinks the real deal should be on the line, just like it was in 1935 when the living, squealing Floyd of Rosedale had its bacon at stake as part of a bet between Iowa Gov. Clyde Herring and his Minnesota counterpart, Gov. Floyd Olson.
“How cool would it be to be playing for a live hog? It would be pretty sweet, having it in the weight room all week, having it down there on sideline for the winning team to claim after the game,’’ Bower said. “That would be awesome.’’
Bower acknowledged the sidelines at Kinnick Stadium might be a little tight for livestock but still likes the thought of players from the winning team in Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. game trying to chase down a live hog and then celebrating with it following the game.
“Could be a lot of fun,’’ Bower said.
Teammate Nathan Bazata, whose family has raised hogs on its farm near Howells, Nebraska, simply shook his head and smiled.
“It would be a pretty crazy scene,’’ Bazata said. “And, we all know (strength and conditioning coach Chris) Doyle would take good care of it in the weight room.’’
Right now, Doyle has possession of the 98.3-pound bronze pig that measures in at 21 inches long and 15 inches high.
Results of the 82 games the Hawkeyes and Golden Gophers have played since Herring handed over the champion hog to Olson are recorded on the side and base of the trophy which Olson had commissioned after winning the wager.
The actual prize was given by Olson to the University of Minnesota where it eventually made its way to the dinner table.
Iowa currently has possession of the work of St. Paul sculptor Charles Brioscho following the Hawkeyes’ 14-7 victory in Minneapolis last season.
Floyd of Rosedale was removed from a public trophy case at the Iowa Football Performance Center early this week and placed in the Hawkeyes’ weight room, a daily reminder of what is at stake when the two 4-3 teams attempt to move beyond their 1-3 starts in the Big Ten on Saturday.
“It’s right there for all of us to see,’’ Bower said. “It reminds us that this is a trophy game and it can be taken away at any time. It’s up for grabs this week and we know it will be another tough game. It’s always a tough game when we play them and the trophy, we have to earn it all over again.’’
Toward that objective, the Hawkeyes are trying to move beyond last Saturday’s 17-10 overtime loss at Northwestern.
After rushing for only 89 yards against the Wildcats — the third time in three losses Iowa has finished with fewer than 100 yards on the ground — improvements in the running game have been at the core of what the Iowa offense has been working on the past two days.
“We’re close, but close plays aren’t enough. We need completed plays,’’ fullback Brady Ross said. “That’s the point of it. We need to complete plays, finish, and then we need to complete drives.’’
With two first-year starters at tackle on the offensive line, running back Akrum Wadley believes the Hawkeyes are catching on.
“We’ve had our best practices of the year the past two days,’’ running back Akrum Wadley said. “We’re ready to get back after it.’’
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz sees that as well.
“The biggest thing we have to do right now is get back up on our feet and really go to work on solutions to see what we can do about performing better on Saturdays,’’ Ferentz said.
“This week the meetings have been good, the workouts have been good, they’ve been spirited. I thought our execution was really good (Tuesday) morning. We need to continue that throughout the week.’’
With a trophy on the line this week, Wadley expects that won’t be an issue.
“We need to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pig, a snake or a dog … we need to win and get that mood back that’s there after a win instead of the mood that’s there after a loss,’’ Wadley said.