The intensity and excitement around Iowa Hawkeye football are near all-time highs this year, what with their trip to Indianapolis looming for a Big Ten Championship showdown against Michigan this Saturday night.

Once upon a time this season, there was National Championship speculation for the Hawkeyes, who were at one time ranked #2 in the nation. They then went on to lose a pair of games, their only two losses so far, before bouncing back to take on Illinois before "the big one". The annual Black Friday "Heroes Game" against Nebraska. Between the ongoing speculation about Iowa's bowl fate during a hugely successful season, and the temperature of the opposing coach's hot seat all season, one would have thought the game would appear on a more prominent network like FOX or as it has in past years, ABC.

The Big Ten Network isn't complaining, though, because as KCRG reports, the event was the highest-rated football game in the network's history. At 1.94 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. Second place was a unique pairing between Michigan and Colorado in 2016, which had 1.86 million viewers.

The game was held in Lincoln, but Hawkeye fan turnout was huge. Most of us were supporting the team at home, glued to our seats, or jumping out of them to celebrate exciting plays if not regularly questioning officiating calls and heckling a poor, defenseless Nebraska coach Scott Frost. The pregame coverage on BTN even set a record too with 659,000 viewers. It was a B1G game in more ways than one, a game which was an albeit ugly win at times for the Hawks. They have a big chance to make another statement and take home the Big 10 title Saturday night, with kickoff being at 7:17 p.m. on FOX.

After that, it's bowl season. Playoff talk may have fallen by the wayside, but there is a huge hope the Hawks can head to another place they and we all love, Pasadena. Download our free mobile app now and you can be among the first alerted on Sunday to information on an exciting Rose Bowl travel package opportunity, should that be the destination.

Go Hawks!

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30 famous people you might not know were college athletes

Stacker dug deep to find 30 celebrities who were previously college athletes. There are musicians, politicians, actors, writers, and reality TV stars. For some, an athletic career was a real, promising possibility that ultimately faded away due to injury or an alternate calling. Others scrapped their way onto a team and simply played for fun and the love of the sport. Read on to find out if your favorite actor, singer, or politician once sported a university jersey.