AMES — Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell wanted to prove that last season wasn’t a flash in the pan.
He wanted to prove that Iowa State was a contender that was here to stay.
On Sunday, it was announced that No. 24 Iowa State (8-4, 6-3 Big 12) was headed to San Antonio, Texas, for the Alamo Bowl, where the Cyclones will play No. 13 Washington State (10-2, 7-2 Pac 12) on Friday, Dec. 28.
“It says where we’re going,” Campbell said. “It shows that there is finally some legitimacy to this place becoming a real football program that’s going in the right direction. Last year, it was great to have some success, but you almost felt like everybody thought it was a fluke. To be able to showcase that, that wasn’t the situation and now to only continue to push the envelope in a positive direction — I think it says a lot about the character of the young men in our program. It’s a big step forward.”
Iowa State was picked to finish seventh in the Big 12 in the preseason. Cornerback Brian Peavy used the perceived slight as motivation.
“Coming off the season we had last year, we were still ranked at the bottom of the conference. We see that. We notice it.”
The Alamo Bowl gets the No. 1 team from the Big 12 that’s not in the College Football Playoff or a New Year’s Six Bowl.
The Alamo Bowl was able to pick between Iowa State and No. 16 West Virginia, since the two teams finished tied for third in the standings. No. 4 Oklahoma qualified for the CFP and No. 15 Texas received a Sugar Bowl bid.
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“I know we beat West Virginia, so I think that part was really positive,” Campbell said. “I certainly think this is a football team that’s continued to grow all season long. It’s a young team that continues to mature and continues to find ways to overcome adversity in a lot of ways. It’s great for our team, great that we get a lot more practice and great that we get another opportunity to play another great opponent.”
Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard said on Twitter that he told the Alamo Bowl selection committee to talk to the Kansas City Sports Commission and Tourism Bureau about how well Iowa State fans travel.
Pollard also tweeted at 4:25 p.m. Sunday that Iowa State has already sold out two charters for the bowl game. Iowa State’s ticket allotment is 12,000 for the Alamo Bowl. It was 10,000 last year when the Cyclones went to the Liberty Bowl and Iowa State fans sold that allotment out.
“I saw how Cyclone Nation traveled to Memphis last year when the weather was freezing rain,” receiver Hakeem Butler said. “It’s going to be nice this year, so there is no telling how many people will be there.”
Since the bowl was announced, plane tickets from Des Moines to San Antonio for dates over the bowl game have skyrocketed over $100 their original price.
The fans feel the excitement, and so do the players.
“I think there is a really good buzz around our facility today,” Campbell said. “A lot of excitement. Our kids have a really good understanding — they’re pretty intelligent players and they knew what being selected to this bowl game meant.”
The game kicks off at 8 p.m. CT at the Alamodome, televised on ESPN.
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