With the Big Ten expanding to a nine-game conference schedule in 2016, Iowa’s biggest annual college football rivalry could be in jeopardy between the Iowa State Cyclones and Iowa Hawkeyes. Both programs obviously want to keep the tradition going, but scheduling conflicts could keep the game from happening. Here’s how it could work out with the new conference schedules.
Everything is set for the next three years. In 2015, the Cyclones will be hosting the Hawkeyes at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. In that same season, Iowa State will have five Big 12 road games. The Big 12 already has the nine-game schedule in rotation, alternating between four and five road games a team has.
In odd years, the Cyclones would rather host the Hawkeyes and not have to face a daunting schedule of playing Iowa and five Big 12 opponents away from home.
Iowa takes it a step further with the university noting that seven games need to be played at Kinnick Stadium “to be fiscally successful,” according to Tyler Brett from Rant Sports.
The future schedule for the Hawkeyes reaches into 2016 with just eight Big Ten opponents currently slotted. For the rivalry to stick around, Iowa will have to work it out with the Big Ten to make one of those “TBA” slots a conference road game with Iowa State coming to Kinnick in the even years. It’s the only way to make things fair on both sides of the schedule every season.
While the plan is perfect, one question remains – how much will this affect the Big Ten when they are scheduling teams? Other teams will likely want to keep other rivalries and no school will put themselves in a bad position to lose money or face too many tough opponents in one season. If push comes to shove, Iowa may be forced opt out of the in-state rivalry, or find a way to work out a six-game schedule at Kinnick.