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AMES — Music blares through large speakers beyond the end zone during Iowa State football practices. It was one of the many changes ushered in with the new coaching staff.
The playlist features a variety of music — selected by the coaches and seniors — and serves a twofold purpose. Surface level observations show it’s a way to keep the energy level up during workouts.
Look closer. That music also is a crowd noise simulation.
“I’ve got a pretty good idea (of what the environment at Iowa will be like),” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “I know what the situation looks like and I certainly know what rivalry games look like and the tradition and pride they have in themselves.
“I know it’ll be a hostile environment and that’s part of what makes college football really special going in and playing in those kind of environments.”
Iowa State will try to right its ship after a season-opening loss to UNI, playing inside Kinnick Stadium on Saturday night.
“We’ve just got to be able to come into Iowa City and be able to just kind of ignore the crowd,” said wide receiver Allen Lazard. “Obviously it’s a good fan base and a good atmosphere there, so we’ve just got to be able to keep our poise and understand the entire process of the game and not get too high or too low and just stay even-keeled.”
Iowa State (0-1) plays in big environments like Texas and Oklahoma every year, but the in-state rivalry with Iowa (1-0) always is a bit different. In the last 20 meetings between the Hawkeyes and Cyclones, each program has won 10 times.
After Iowa won 15-straight games from 1983-97, Iowa State has won 10 of the last 18, and home-field advantage hasn’t been a factor in recent years either. The road team has won the last four. The Cyclones’ last trip to Kinnick Stadium ended in a 20-17 win after Cole Netten drilled a 42-yard field goal in the final seconds.
“It’s what we live for as football players, going into other stadiums and trying to win games,” said quarterback Joel Lanning. “It’s been a fun game to be a part of. I’ve never played in it, so it’s going to be fun. I know what the game is like seeing it from the sidelines in the last few years and it’s a very intense game.”
There’s still a lot of uncertainty that surrounds Iowa State players and coaches. The Cyclones showed part of what they could be through all of the penalties, turnovers and missed opportunities in a loss to Northern Iowa, but many of the wrinkles brought to Ames by the coaching staff still remain a mystery.
Iowa is the favorite against Iowa State for the 16th year in a row. Iowa State has won seven of those games, including three of the last five games. The last time Iowa won the matchup as a double-digit favorite was a 35-7 win at Kinnick Stadium in 2010.
“We made our bed a little last Saturday in terms of whatever the betting line is or whatever everybody’s belief is,” Campbell said. “That’s where our focus has to go way back on us. The reality of it is we’ve got to continue to get better. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”