AMES -- The color black makes Iowa State linebacker A.J. Klein see red.
He walks around the Iowa State campus and he will see the occasional ISU student wearing an Iowa T-shirt. And no, he doesn't like it.
"It's irritating," the 6-2, 248-pounder said. "You should have pride in your school and where you go to school."
Klein isn't running around campus ripping shirts off Hawkeye fans or Alabama fans or Nebraska fans, and he says he sees tons of enemy colors. He can't help himself, though, he will make an under-the-breath, off-handed comment.
"I'll have little remarks every once in a while," said Klein, the Big 12 co-defensive player of the year last season. "I usually try to keep my mouth shut."
Yup, it's Iowa-Iowa State week. Dress accordingly.
"I'm from Wisconsin and grew up a Wisconsin fan, but it doesn't mean anything," said Klein, who had seven tackles, a QB hurry and a pass break-up in the Cyclones' season-opening victory over Tulsa last week. "I don't like Wisconsin. I'm an Iowa State Cyclone and always will be. I'm always going to support my school, my team, my university.
"I think it's a little punch to the jaw if you're a student here and you don't support your own team."
The emotion was palpable in Klein's voice. It sounds as though fashion is an emotional card being played for some Cyclones going into their matchup with the Hawkeyes (1-0) on Saturday a Kinnick Stadium, where the Cyclones (1-0) haven't won since 2002.
It might be what you're looking for, too.
Linebacker Jake Knott said he doesn't see a whole lot of the cross-over.
Knott is a senior who moved from Missouri to Waukee before high school. He's keenly aware of the rivalry's sensitive nature, an almost political correctness between schools with birds for mascots.
"I think you can definitely see a culture change from the first years of being here until now," said Knott, first-team all-Big 12 last season. "There's hardly any of that, except for guys looking for attention and looking to get talked to like that.
"There are a lot smarter people on campus, you could say."
Noseguard Jake McDonough said it's a team-wide thing, the radar for enemy colors. He went to West Des Moines Valley, so the Iowa colors sort of stand out to him.
"Especially when you see someone in an Iowa shirt at Iowa State," McDonough said. "It's kind of like one of those, 'Really? C'mon, you can't be wearing that shirt around here.'
"It just kind of gets under our skin a little bit and kind of brings that rivalry up even more."
Free safety Jacques Washington is from Owasso, Okla., but, yes, any black and gold on the ISU campus catches his eye.
"People have their own freedom, but . . ." he said, "if you're going to wear an Iowa shirt, I say go to Iowa. It does irritate me and it makes me wonder, are people at Iowa wearing Iowa State gear?"
From Ames, it's hard to see who's wearing what in Iowa City. Could there be a day where Iowa players are asked that about Iowa State?
Probably tomorrow when Iowa players meet the media for the week.
"People are hardheaded," Klein said. "We have hardheaded fans, they have hardheaded fans. They love their team and I understand that. It's a big rivalry game and I understand that people support who they support.
"But I would like to see students wear more of our gear."
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