Prelude to a Rivalry Game


September 10, 2011; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones player Darius Reynolds (7) and Kurt Hammmerschmidt (86) celebrate after scoring a touchdown against the Iowa Hawkeyes in overtime on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State beat Iowa 44-41. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-US PRESSWIRE

For one day, Iowa Hawkeye fans can be right about one thing – Iowa State fans only care about the rivalry game.

Since the dawn of the new millennium, Iowa’s in-state rivalry between the biggest universities has seen something that’s never happened in the entire history dating back to 1894.

Equality. Since 2000, both teams are 6-6 as they head into the newest edition of the rivalry tomorrow.

That even record is akin to how everyone truly feels about who will come out with the victory.

Complete uncertainty.

Momentum is in the favor of the Cyclones, who won on the final play of the game a year ago when running back James White jogged parallel to the sideline into the endzone. It was the sixth touchdown for Iowa State, good enough for a 44-41 triple-overtime victory and the 20th victory against Iowa.

It was the highest scoring contest between the programs, and the first one to go into overtime.

[Also see – 1921-22 Iowa Hawkeyes]

But in the even-ended years, the game is hosted at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City – hardly the friendly confines of Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

Hawkeye fans hated seeing some JUCO transfer at quarterback throw for four touchdowns against their defense, or watching a running back break a century on the ground against their line.

Now they have to see the weapons, and even more depth, return 362 days later. Those faithful fans in black and yellow won’t hold back anything, regardless of how the Hawkeyes looked a week ago in Chicago.

Because this is the annual rivalry. Lower-level school Northern Iowa has tried to come in and give these Iowa teams a run for their money, but those games pale in comparison to the annual anticipation between the fans who constantly give each other hell all year along about what happens in the four hours this Saturday.

This is why college football is the greatest sport in the world. Super Bowl Sunday doesn’t compare, the Olympics don’t compare.

Even the national championship talk doesn’t even matter. Both teams aren’t even a blip on the radar screen anyway this year.

[Also see – 3 Storylines to Watch]

Tomorrow, nothing else matters. Nothing is more important for Cyclones and Hawkeye fans than what transpires beginning at 2:42 p.m. at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

That sense of unreality when the game finally kicks off, and either the moment of heartbreak when the team fails to grab the win or the overwhelming emotion of happiness and love when the team holds on to the win is why we love and hate this game.

Or in last year’s case, the first feeling ever for Iowa State of needing more than regulation to decide the contest and sealing a victory in front of their home crowd.

Cyclone fans, enjoy the last night of relishing in the victory one year ago. Tomorrow, stats, history, and whatever talking heads say doesn’t matter. The coaches’ preparation, players on the field, and execution are the only things that do.

So yes, the only game Cyclone fans care about is the game against Iowa tomorrow. Then after reveling or loathing from the results, it’s back to the regular season.

Brian Spaen is the lead editor for Clones Confidential. Keep up with the latest sports fails and disdain toward the Big Ten by following him on Twitter.

Read his other work on the Oregon Ducks blog, Autzen Zoo, and Lacrosse the Web.