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AMES — ABC/ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe laid it out in simple terms Friday.
“It’s going to be insane,” she said about Saturday’s Iowa-Iowa State football game. “I just hope you all are prepared for the insanity.”
Rowe and her colleagues are prepared. First, ESPN’s College GameDay will air its live Saturday show from just outside Jack Trice Stadium from 8 to 11 a.m. Then, Rowe, play-by-play man Rece Davis and analyst Kirk Herbstreit will be the on-air talent for ABC’s 3:30 p.m. telecast of the game.
“Number one,” Rowe said, “I think it’s excitement for being back to some normalcy and having a full stadium. But this year, add a rivalry game on top of it and then you have a top-10 ranking for both teams.”
Rowe got to Iowa Tuesday to begin preparation for this one. She attended the Hawkeyes’ Wednesday practice in Iowa City and the Cyclones’ Thursday practice here.
“(Iowa State Coach) Matt Campbell got the guys all together after practice and he said ‘College football is all about who can win the moment, but you never know when your moment’s going to come.’
“So I look forward to seeing if they can be ready for this moment that they haven’t been in before.”
Davis also hosts GameDay, so he has a full plate of Iowa-Iowa State in front of him tomorrow. His crew was here on the day of the 2019 Hawkeyes-Cyclones game, so it isn’t as if he will be surprised by fan turnout or noise Saturday. He welcomes it.
“We prepare the same no matter what whether it’s an empty stadium as last year or we’re in Pullman, Washington, where we had the greatest crowd we ever had (in 2018). And we hope that this crowd will eclipse that tomorrow, that would be great.
“It gives you a little jolt, the energy. I hope it doesn’t make you do a better job, but it does let you feel some adrenaline. I think it’s not dissimilar to what the players will be facing playing in front of a crowd for the first time in quite some time, as they did last week.”
In talking about the game itself, GameDay analyst Desmond Howard said Saturday that the offenses might want to go for a gimmicky play like a reverse right away given how pumped up defensive players are at the start of a high-profile game like this.
“Use their aggression against them,” Howard said.
His guy to watch is Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar, assuming Kolar plays. The AP Preseason first-team All-American sat out last week’s 16-10 win over Northern Iowa with an ankle issue.
“From all the reports I’ve seen,” said Howard, “it seems like he’s got the green light. I just think the Cylcones’ offense just operates at a different level when Kolar’s in the game. I think they missed him last week.
“He’s a difference-maker, not only in the passing game, but as a blocker, too. I believe he’s (quarterback) Brock Purdy’s version of a security blanket.”
Rowe raved about ISU running back Breece Hall, raved about Iowa running back Tyler Goodson and center Tyler Linderbaum. Howard praised Iowa’s defensive backs, saying “The Hawkeyes have got some ball hawks back there.”
Rowe has worked many Kirk Ferentz-coached Iowa games, dating to two decades ago. Her connection to Campbell is a little different.
“The last time I covered a Matt Campbell game where he was on the field and I was on the field, he was playing for a (Division III) national championship for Mount Union in 2000 and 2001.
“So I feel like the old Drake lyric. ‘We started from the bottom now we here.’ That’s me and Matt Campbell. We talked about it at practice yesterday. Like ‘Look at us, oh my gosh, we both have come such a long way.’”
CollegeGameDay and a late-afternoon ABC time slot are at Jack Trice, five years after Iowa State went 3-9 in Campbell’s first season here, and it’s for a top-10 matchup with Iowa.
Did someone say “insane?”
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