"It amazes me that people could ask that question. Obviously when you're an athlete, you compete," said Pelini during his Monday weekly press conference in preparation for Iowa on Black Friday. "It's not always about trophies, there are a lot of things that play into it. When you go to compete, you go to compete. Trust me, both teams will be out there ready to play."
If pride and the senior's last home appearance are not enough to get the competitive juices flowing, maybe the bowl pecking order will be.
At 8-3 on the year, a win over Iowa would likely send the Huskers to the Outback Bowl in Tampa – a game to be played on January 2nd.
A loss in the first ever Heroes Game, Nebraska could be playing before New Year's Day in the Insight Bowl on December 28th. They could also be sent to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. Both bowls that would have many Nebraska fans scratching their heads and wondering, "is this team stuck in neutral?"
"I don't care about the perception, this program has come a long way," said Pelini. "To be honest, I don't really care what's out there. What I concern myself with is where the program was and where it is right now. I'm proud of where it is right now.
"We are a better football team…our kids are doing well academically…our kids represent this state and university the right way...we compete every week. We are not winning a division championship right now, it didn't happen this year. But I think over the last couple of years, we have been right there. We have won at least a share in all three years I have been here."
The Hawkeyes come to Lincoln also with major bowl implications on the line. At 7-4 on the year, Iowa is also trying to get to a January bowl.
"We're going to try and rally the troops this week," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz told the Associated Press. "We're going to go into a very tough environment against a very good football team. I really feel like anybody can beat anybody in this conference. We'll see if we can put a good plan together and go over and play hard."