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AMES — After what happened at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday in the annual Cy-Hawk football game, those defending the series got a major boost in their argument.
Iowa beat Iowa State, 44-41, in just the second overtime game in the rivalry’s 65-year history. It featured six lead changes, three ties and 964 combined yards of offense.
In short, it met the hype the game receives every year.
“Every year there’s a lot of hype and talk about this game, and I think it’s so good for our entire state,” said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. “Today certainly lived up to all that.”
The question for many, though, is should the game — and with it the hype — even exist?
To look at social media, there’s a sharp divide among Iowa and Iowa State fans in a natural way, of course, but also within fanbases among those who have strong opinions about whether or not the two teams should play every year.
On Saturday, before the game, thousands of people adorned in colors of both schools packed the tailgate lots around the stadium, with Hawkeyes and Cyclones intermingled and often in the same family or friend group. That much has been the case since the rivalry resumed in 1977, and if the majority of fans polled Saturday have their way, it won’t ever change.
Of the nearly dozen fans who responded, only a few at the game said the series should stop — all of them Hawkeye fans — but even they weren’t passionate about that opinion.
To many in Ames on Saturday, it seemed, the passionate outcry for the series to stop is a social media effect.
“It’s a lot of fun to be here with friends of the opposite side, but overall I think it would be OK to scrap it,” said Lindsay Trueblood, of Bondurant. “I think it’s always been this way, but social media blows it out of proportion. It just depends on who you’re talking to. There’s a group of people who are OK with everything and a group who are complete jerks about everything.
“I think for the camaraderie it would be great to keep going, but all in all I think neither side would be upset if we quit playing, just for rankings and stuff like that.
“I think there are other games we could squeeze in.”
That’s the key argument, of course: boosting a football resume.
With Iowa’s nine conference games and a desire to play seven revenue-generating home games per season, booking another Power Five conference opponent in non-conference play is extremely difficult.
Fans in Ames Saturday recognized that, but the narrative that the game means more to Iowa State than Iowa still popped up. Ferentz shook off that notion last Tuesday, saying it was “insulting” to suggest he or his team didn’t care enough, but the idea still exists.
The same old “little brother” and “it’s their national championship” phrases were uttered in reference to Iowa State by Iowa fans in one breath, but in another, those same fans almost entirely expressed a desire to keep the rivalry around.
Sioux City resident and former Iowa baseball player Chad Benson, whose wife went to Iowa State, expressed deep affection for the game and everything that comes with it — including “a house divided.” Benson said “it would be really disappointing,” if the series stopped.
Waterloo native and Cincinnati resident Alex Reed, a friend of Benson, agreed, and pointed out the series is “a huge revenue generator. It’s the biggest thing going on in the whole state of Iowa. It absolutely should be played.”
The friends actually said social media helps the rivalry, though, because of the aforementioned hype.
When a game like Saturday’s happens, it only fuels the banter. And make no mistake, all the back-and-forth has always been there. Social media has just made it more easily accessible.
“It helps because of the excitement it generates,” Benson said. “There was still a lot of excitement before. People would just come together for it. It’s always been there.”
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