IOWA CITY, Ia. — It’s been nearly two years since Iowa and Iowa State last played, which has fueled fans’ anticipation.
Saturday’s clash will be the 68th time the two in-state foes will battle it out. Not to mention it’ll be the first time in the series both teams will be ranked in the AP top-10. Now the spotlight will be on Jack Trice Stadium this weekend, a place Iowa’s Coach Kirk Ferentz is all too familiar with.
Ferentz has won his last four trips to the venue, plus the last five games overall and he’s 4-0 head-to-head against Matt Campbell. Still, College football’s longest-tenured coach has witnessed Iowa State’s rise to national power under Campbell’s leadership. Despite the Cyclones’ recent success, the Hawkeyes historically view them as the little brother of the state.
The lack of recognition has only added more fuel to the fire for Iowa State. However, Ferentz has a lot of respect for the program, considering the last three meetings have been dog fights. It’s arguably one of the best rivalries in the midwest, and records don’t matter when the two teams meet.
“When it comes to Iowa State, they’re not only a talented team but they are very experienced, and on top of that really well-coached, certainly since Coach Campbell and his staff have gotten into Ames,” Ferentz said. “They’ve just done a wonderful job building a great program.”
Both sides remember the last game in Ames. It was decided by a special teams blunder and the Hawkeye band members later accused Cyclone fans of abuse. Although no charges came out of the ordeal, it left a bad taste in the mouths of all parties involved.
There’s no denying the fallout has only added more luster to the rivalry. Iowa State struggled to put Northern Iowa away last week. The Cyclones dropped two spots in the poll because of their performance. Maybe Campbell didn’t want to expose too much to the Hawkeyes, but the Cyclones’ narrow win has fans wondering if they’re contenders or pretenders.
Meanwhile Iowa (1-0) jumped up eight spots in the poll because it beat Indiana so convincingly. Quarterback Spencer Petras didn’t have to do much after the Hawkeyes’ defense scored twice last week. Which is why Ferentz is expecting the Cyclones to come after his young quarterback with all they have, so preparation will be vital throughout the week.
“It just so happens right now that both of us have teams that have had some success,” he said. “The big difference is that you look at our game from last time, there’s a lot of guys on that film in their red uniforms that are still there, and a lot of guys in our white uniforms that weren’t there, so that’s probably the biggest difference.”
Iowa State (1-0) desperately wants to snap the losing streak, and a win over Iowa will bring some legitimacy to its’ No. 9 ranking. No player on the Cyclones’ roster has ever beat the Hawkeyes. However, they have experience on their side this time around.
ESPN College Gameday will be in the building and have been hyping up the contest all week. Ferentz believes the publicity is good for the state of Iowa. Both teams are planning on taking advantage of the spotlight and a plethora of potential recruits will be in attendance.
The winner will likely catapult into the top-five, giving them a clear cut path to the Playoff if they run the table the rest of the way. The 66-year old coach is expecting nothing less than a scrappy, no-holds barred type of game.
“It’s just a tough football team that we’re playing, and big challenge for us.”