Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State football: 5 things to know about Drake

The statue of Drake Bulldogs mascot Spike outside Drake Stadium. (USA TODAY Sports)
The statue of Drake Bulldogs mascot Spike outside Drake Stadium. (USA TODAY Sports)

AMES — DISCLAIMER: This story has nothing to do with the hip-hop icon Drake. If you’re a Drake (the rapper) fan and accidentally started reading this article, feel free to not be disappointed and learn about Drake’s (the school) football program.

No. 25 Iowa State (7-4, 6-3 Big 12) hosts Drake (7-3, 6-2 Pioneer League) at 11 a.m. Saturday for the Cyclones’ make-up to the make-up game it had scheduled against Incarnate Word after the season-opener against South Dakota State was canceled due to lightning.

Here are 5 Things to know about the Bulldogs.

1. Rivalry renewed

Ok, so this series isn’t really a rivalry, but the schools do have a long history of playing each other.

Their first game was in 1898, which Iowa State won 17-16. Over the next 120 years, the schools played 69 times with the all-time record of 48-17-4 in Iowa State’s favor.

However, in the most recent game, Drake upset Iowa State 20-17 in 1985. Drake made T-shirts to commemorate the victory.

The two schools haven’t played since Drake became a non-scholarship football team.

2. Defensive player of the year

Just because Drake doesn’t offer football scholarships doesn’t mean it doesn’t have good players.

Drake’s Nathan Clayberg was named the Pioneer League Defensive Player of the Year, announced Monday. The defensive end has recorded 30 tackles this season, including 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.

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Clayberg has a habit of wreaking havoc on the line, recording six pass breakups and two QB hurries. He also has two blocked kicks on the season.

3. Stout defense

The defense is captained by Clayberg, but the Bulldogs have plenty of other pieces that make their defense tick.

Overall, the defense ranks in the top 15 in the FCS in nearly every defensive statistic. Drake is eighth in the nation in points per game at 18.3, 13th in total defense with 198 yards surrendered per game, sixth in rush defense, only allowing 95 yards per game and eighth in interceptions with 16.

Will Warner leads the Bulldogs’ secondary. Warner has eight interceptions by himself, one he returned for a touchdown. He has 223 interception return yards on the season. The ball-hawking defensive back also has four pass breakups.

Linebacker Kieran Severa leads the Bulldogs in tackles with 67. He also has 10.5 tackles for loss, which also leads the Bulldogs.

4. Bright spot

Drake has had many bright spots in its history — including Johnny Bright, who finished fifth in the 1951 Heisman Trophy voting. He was also a first-team All American that season even after suffering a broken jaw against Oklahoma State (then Oklahoma A&M) in what’s known as the “Johnny Bright Incident.” Bright is the only Drake player to have his number retired.

Other Drake football bright spots include the 1922 team, which went undefeated and beat Mississippi State 48-6. The 1922 team received votes to be the No. 1 team in the nation.

The most successful Drake team in the modern era was the 1981 team. Drake was 10-0 before it lost its final game to Tulsa, finishing the season 10-1.

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5. Drake and Iowa State weekend

Thanks to a lot of bad Iowa State luck — a weather cancellation and a team that went 1-10 in 2017 making the FCS Playoffs in 2018 — Drake and Iowa State will play again in football for the first time since 1985.

But that’s not all.

Thursday, Iowa State will host Drake in the first round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championships. Iowa State finished third in the Big 12 but had a rough start to the year before conference play started, going just 7-6 in non-conference play. The NIVC invite ends Iowa State’s 13-year NCAA Tournament run under coach Christy Johnson-Lynch.

This is Drake’s first postseason tournament since 1995.

l Comments: benv43@gmail.com

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