By Courtney Baumann
Saturday will mark the 41st-consecutive meeting between Iowa and Iowa State in the famous “Rivalry Week” and the chance to gain control over the Cy-Hawk Trophy.
The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series, which dates back to 1894, 42-22.
More than half of the Hawkeye roster grew up in Iowa, and many have memories from when they were young.
Miguel Recinos, Iowa’s placekicker and a Mason City native, said he distinctly remembers how visually divided — with either Cardinal Red or Black and Gold — his school was the Friday before every Cy-Hawk game.
Because of Mason City’s location, Recinos said, a lot of his friends from high school ended up going to ISU, and he hears plenty of trash talk from them come State Week.
“Of course they message me … I get it, this is a pretty heated rivalry, one that spans generations. That’s always going to be a factor, but that’s what we, as football players, live for,” he said. “I’ll say something … just to get back at them.”
For some, though, the rivalry is even more personal than friends sending a few text messages.
Ben Niemann’s dad, whose parents played football for Iowa State.
“I have some ties to the state. Growing up, watching the games with him, I was always kind of on the other side, but obviously, now, I’m not. I want to beat them,” Niemann said. “A lot of my family went to Iowa State, too. So yeah, I’m going to hear some crap from them.”
In 1979-82, when Jay Niemann played linebacker for the Cyclones, Iowa State won three of four games against the Hawkeyes. Now, senior Ben Niemann has the opportunity to help flip that record playing for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa has won the last two games of the series, with its last loss coming at home in 2014.
Though the last two years have been rather one sided — Iowa won 31-17 and 42-3 in 2015 and 2016, respectively — Iowa State appears to have a high-powered offense this season.
Led by now-full time quarterback Jacob Park and senior wide receiver Allen Lazard, the Cyclones put up 42 points and 405 yards against Northern Iowa.
Park completed 27-of-35 passes for 271 yards, with 2 touchdowns and an interception. Lazard garnered 108 yards on 8 receptions.
Not to mention, Iowa State’s starting running back, David Montgomery, averaged 5.9 yards per carry on 14 attempts.
“They have a really good running back, and they have some really nice wide receivers, too,” Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell said. “They’re tall, they’re athletic, they’ll be able to move around well. Being able to stay in coverage and also being able to fill the gaps up front [is important.]”
While the offense may be tough to stop, Iowa flexed its defensive muscles last weekend against Wyoming and will try to do it again.
Also, the Hawkeyes have the opportunity to benefit from the Cyclones’ defense, which gave up 378 yards and 21 first downs to the Panthers.
Additionally, Iowa State had some trouble keeping the penalties under wraps. The team was flagged eight times for 71 yards last week.
Even with this, Iowa will have to be ready, and Hawkeye quarterback Nate Stanley is.
He will see action in his first Cy-Hawk game Saturday, and he knows the crowd will definitely not welcome him the way fans do in Kinnick.
“I expect it to be pretty crazy. This atmosphere and environment between us and Iowa State is always pretty special. It’ll be pretty cool to experience that,” Stanley said. “It’ll be a little more hostile than it was last year, obviously, playing on the road. but that’s just like any other road game. You have to expect it to be tougher.”