With several surveys and studies revealing that football is the most popular sport in Iowa, it’s no surprise to see many football teams across the state. Competing at different levels and with vastly different histories, each of these teams has given their supporters some memorable wins and losses to forget over the years.
What are the top 10 best Iowa football teams you need to know about?
Best Football Teams in Iowa
1. Iowa Hawkeyes
The Hawkeyes team represents the football program at the University of Iowa. They play in the Big Ten Conference, taking part in the West division. In fact, they played their first-ever Conference season way back in 1900 and have managed to win five National Championships during their long and interesting history. Their last one came in 1960, while they’ve also taken part in 34 bowl games, the majority since the 1980s.
You need to go to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City to see their home games, with a capacity of over 69,000 at this venue. What can you expect to see if you watch them in 2022? Well, coach Kirk Ferentz has been in the role for over 20 seasons and they ended the 2021 season with a 10-4, 7-2 record in the Big Ten, winning the West Division but losing the Big Ten Championship to Michigan and the Citrus Bowl to Kentucky.
Many predictions for the new season suggest strong performances from Spencer Petras, Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams giving the team an impressive overall winning record. The opinion is generally split between whether they’ll pick up an 8-4 or 9-3 record, with their defense expected to be stronger than their offense. It’s worth noting that the Hawkeyes have had at least one player picked in the NFL Draft every year since the 1970s, so a lot of eyes will be on them to see who the next pro star to come out of this program might be.
They also have an iconic rivalry with Iowa State Cyclones, which is taken to the extreme in the CyHawk Trophy played annually. However, the last one did smile in favor of the rivals.
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) September 19, 2022
2. Iowa State Cyclones
This college football team represents the Iowa State University program, based out of Ames. They are the current CyHawk trophy winners, after beating the Hawkeyes in the long-lasting traditional game between both teams.
They play their games in the Big 12 Conference and are part of the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision in the NCAA. You need to go to the Jack Trice Stadium to see their home games, which are played in a venue that holds up to 61,500 spectators.
The Cyclones have been playing football since the end of the 19th century. Pop Warner is one of the legendary figures from the early days of football he played a key role in shaping the team at the beginning, and they quickly picked up the cyclone name after some big wins. They also see often their players getting picked in the NFL draft, the last being Brock Purdy to the 49ers.
This Iowa football team has won a couple of conference championships. They’ve also played in 16 bowl games, although have just five wins to show for those appearances. As for their rivalry with the Hawkeyes, Iowa State has 22 compared to the 46 wins for the University of Iowa, but fans will be hoping to hear their historic victory bell ringing again before too long.
Most people looking ahead to their 2022 season think that passing will be one of the key aspects of their play again. Head coach Mike Campbell points out that they’ve been good for a few seasons, and recently got to a record-high 7th place in the AP poll.
— Iowa State Football (@CycloneFB) September 16, 2022
3. Drake University Bulldogs
The Bulldogs of Drake University play in the Pioneer Football League and are a non-scholarship football program. Like the other programs in Iowa we’ve looked at so far, this team has been playing football since the end of the 19th century and has enjoyed good and bad seasons over that period.
Looking back, Drake fans often say that their 1922 team was the best in their history. This is the season in which their only undefeated team to date swept all before them, and they completed the season with a memorable 48-6 win against Mississippi Star and earned an invitation to the White House.
Five bowl appearances have resulted in a 2-3 record, with their last appearance coming in 1972. This was the Pioneer Bowl, which they lost to Tennessee State. Those two bowl wins came in their first couple of appearances, in 1946 and 1948.
𝐋𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐧…
— Drake Athletics (@DUBulldogs) September 15, 2022
4. University of Northern Iowa Panthers
The University of Northern Iowa has a team known as the Panthers. They play at the level known as the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision as part of the Missouri Valley Football Conference. This program is as old as the others above and they have won 39 conference titles, which is the best in the state.
You’ll see the Panthers games if you go to the UNI-Dome, which is part of their campus in Cedar Falls. It holds over 16,000 fans and is well-known for its weather condition announcements due to the fact that it’s a domed stadium where the outside weather has no effect.
They’ve played in two college bowl games over the years, winning the 1964 Pecan Bowl against Lamar and losing the 1960 Mineral Water Bowl to Hillsdale College. Among the most notable Panthers players of the past, we can see All-Americans such as Randolph B. Schultz and Deiondre’ Hall.
Your Panthers can pass! The Panther offense is No. 13 in the nation
QB Theo Day – No. 9 in:
🏈 Yards per pass attempt
🏈 Passing yards
🏈 Passing yards per game.
Up next: at Western Illinois pic.twitter.com/cekhrG9WrB
— UNI Football (@UNIFootball) September 18, 2022
5. Upper Iowa University
The Peacocks represent the Upper Iowa University in various sports, with the football team playing their home games at the Harms-Eischeid Stadium in Fayette. This venue was revamped thanks to a $7.5 million donation that allowed them to improve the field lighting and add all-weather turf as well as increase the seating.
At the time of writing, they’ve had a poor start to the season with a couple of successive losses. The season began badly, with a 0-30 loss to Northern State University in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The Peacock only managed to muster 24 rushing yards in the loss.
— Upper Iowa Football (@Upper_Iowa_FB) July 14, 2022
6. Simpson College Storm
Known as The Storm, the football team from Simpson College has reached the NCAA tournament several times with the last one coming in 2003. In addition, they were regional champions on a single occasion, which came in 1997.
They’re based in Indianola and play in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, with football one of the several sports that they compete in. They don’t offer football scholarships but scholarships are available for some of the other sports played at Simpson College. Matt Jeter is listed as their head coach right now.
Its a New Day for Storm Athletics as turf replacement begins at Buxton Stadium. Installation of new turf w enhanced safety features begins week of Aug 8. Track resurfacing is complete and looks great w new board system. #RollStorm. pic.twitter.com/gtYrRykxXp
— Marty Bell (@SimpsonStormAD) July 30, 2022
7. Dubuque University Spartans
The Spartans of Dubuque University started the 2022 season with a 48-34 win over Nebraska Wesleyan University before suffering two successive losses in their next games. This university in Dubuque is a member of the NCAA Division III and the American Rivers Conference, with the Spartans competing in a variety of sports.
Among their most famous graduates, Solomon Butler was an athlete and Hollywood actor who was also among the first black players to play in the NFL. Former football coach George O’Leary also played the game here.
Spartans Football Opens League Play with 48-34 Victory https://t.co/IVZFuEBm8V
— University of Dubuque Athletics (@UDubuqueSports) September 17, 2022
8. Loras College Duhawks
Also based in Dubuque, the Duhawks of Loras College is part of the American Rivers Conference. They have played under the name of the Duhawks since the 1920s and their home venue is known as the Rock Bowl. This stadium is used by their soccer teams too and has a high-definition video board that was gifted to the college by former students.
The Duhawks football team started the current season with two losses before recording a 38-35 win against Central College. After Central had tied the game right at the end, Loras found time to drive forward and see up Aiden Driscoll for a field goal that gave them a last-gasp win. Ty Bausch leads the team in rushing yards so far this season, with 152 yards.
— Loras College Duhawks (@LorasAthletics) September 18, 2022
9. Luther College Norse
Joe Troche is in his first full season as football coach at Luther College. Their season has started slowly, with three defeats in a row, although only one of them was a conference game. Their conference season began with a 6-29 loss to Presentation College in Decorah, despite the Norse starting well and scoring the first touchdown in the opening quarter.
Based in Decorah, this team has been playing various varsity sports in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for about a century. Their finest moment on the football field arguably came with a win in the 1955 Corn Bowl, when they beat Western Illinois. A look through their history shows that John Stavast is the only player from Luther College to get named as an All-Conference player four times.
— Luther College Norse (@norsesports) September 17, 2022
10. Buena Vista University Beavers
Based at Storm Lake, the Buena Vista University football team is known as the Beavers and they’re part of the American Rivers Conference. They began the current season at home to Gustavus Adolphus but fell behind 0-49 in the first half and the game ended with a 20-62 loss for the Beavers.
Among the positives to emerge from this loss, freshman QB Seth Gallardo made the first touchdown passes of his career when he took over from Zach Herrera in the second half. Isaia Morones led the way with 73 receiving yards, including a 56-yard effort for the first Buena Vista TD.
— Beaver Football (@BVUFootball) August 18, 2022