It’s that time of year again. That time when logic and decorum goes out the window in the state of Iowa, brothers become enemies and fight songs become anthems.
Iowa hosts Iowa State on Saturday in the 64th installment of the Cy-Hawk rivalry game, and on paper it sure looks like a tall hill to climb. But nothing makes sense when it comes to Iowa-Iowa State. So let’s look at why — 5 Things about Iowa-Iowa State.
1. Irrelevant underdog
Something that seems to hold true most years these teams play: what’s expected going in rarely happens.
In the Ferentz era (he’s 8-9), the Hawkeyes have been favorites over the Cyclones 16 times (all in a row), including this year — the line on Monday was Iowa favored by 15 points. In the previous 17 matchups, the underdog (all Iowa State) has won the game outright seven times. Nine times, the favorite (all Iowa) has failed to cover the spread. Further, Iowa has been a double-digit favorite six times, and has only covered that spread once (a 35-7 win in 2010).
The game also does almost nothing to predict season success or failure. In Iowa State’s nine wins, the Cyclones had a winning record that season three times, and went .500 once. In the other five winning years, Iowa State went a combined 21-40. Iowa had three losing seasons in which they also lost to Iowa State — 2012, 2000 and 1999, went to a bowl game in five seasons they lost and won the Big Ten once.
“You can see that no matter who’s favored in a game, it’s all about who shows up that week,” said ISU quarterback Joel Lanning on Monday. “Some teams didn’t show up or for whatever reason lost the game. Anything can happen in football. You’ve got to show up that day and execute.”
2. Road runners
Figure this one out: the road team has won the last four games in the Cy-Hawk Series, and is 8-9 in the Ferentz era.
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So, basically, home field advantage has been irrelevant between Iowa and Iowa State for 17 years. “Pack the Jack” or swarming Kinnick has very little tangible value in terms of on-field results. Sorry, college football fans.
When asked about it Monday, Iowa State’s standout receiver Allen Lazard laughed and shrugged when asked why the road team has had such success.
“I guess that’s the way God planned it. I couldn’t tell you,” Lazard said through laughter. “We’re happy to have the amazing support we have from our fans and play in both — both stadiums are great venues and great places for college football.”
3. Comeback Crew
Iowa State enters this game coming off its third loss to an FCS team in four seasons. That’s not great, but it also doesn’t mean the Cy-Hawk game is a lock for Iowa.
In 2014, Iowa State lost to FCS No. 1 North Dakota State, then dropped a close, 32-28 game at home to No. 20 Kansas State. Cole Netten booted the Cyclones to a 20-17 victory the next week at Kinnick Stadium. In 2007, Iowa State lost to Kent State and Northern Iowa. Five Bret Culbertson field goals later, Iowa State carried the Cy-Hawk trophy into the locker room the next week at Jack Trice Stadium.
No assumptions can be made. This is not a copy and paste.
4. Sweep the leg
Any realistic viewer of Iowa’s season-opening, 45-21, win against Miami (Ohio) saw weaknesses defensively. The Hawkeyes gave up 424 total yards — 158 yards and a touchdown rushing, and RedHawks quarterback Billy Bahl went 19 of 29 for 266 yards and two touchdowns — and saw Greg Mabin exploited heavily on the right side.
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On paper, that seems to bode well for a Cyclone squad that features Lanning at quarterback, Lazard at receiver and Mike Warren at running back. Iowa State has Demond Tucker at nose tackle and edge rushers in their multiple fronts in Mitchell Meyers, Gabe Luna and JaQuan Bailey. They could make some noise against Iowa’s pass protection — which broke down in a big way on a few occasions against Miami.
But ISU Coach Matt Campbell isn’t taking anything for granted with the Hawkeyes.
“I continue to be so impressed in terms of Iowa’s defense,” Campbell said. “Sometimes (they use) simplicity and sometimes they throw complexity into what they want to do.
“I think it’ll be a great challenge for our offense as we go into the game Saturday.”
5. For the love of AC/DC
There was a ton of debate in Ames throughout the summer about what the new entrance song would be for the Cyclones, and Campbell said they went with “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC to follow the “storm is brewing” theme.
That makes it 3 for 3 in state schools’ football teams coming out to an AC/DC song. Iowa does The Swarm to “Back in Black” and Northern Iowa runs out from under the garage door in the UNI-Dome to “Hells Bells.”
Does this have any tangible effect on the game? Of course not, but it’s a funny coincidence.
Maybe the next debate can be whose AC/DC song is best.
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