Preview: Hawkeyes, Cyclones Enter Annual Rivalry Showdown Well Aware of Significance

AMES, IA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback C.J. Beathard #16 of the Iowa Hawkeyes scrambles under pressure from linebacker Luke Knott #21 of the Iowa State Cyclones in the first half of play at Jack Trice Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)

AMES, IA – SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback C.J. Beathard #16 of the Iowa Hawkeyes scrambles under pressure from linebacker Luke Knott #21 of the Iowa State Cyclones in the first half of play at Jack Trice Stadium on September 12, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Hawkeyes will welcome their in-state rival Cyclones to Kinnick Stadium on Saturday night in the 64th all-time meeting between the schools, and both sides understand the importance of this particular game even though it’s just the second of the season.

“This is my 27th game involvement-wise in this series, so I can tell you I appreciate fully what it means to so many people in our state,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said, who also signed a contract extension through 2025 on Tuesday. “If you look at our football team, half our two-deep, I think it’s 45, close to 50 percent of our roster, were born and raised here, too, so they grew up watching this game. I know they appreciate this series and what it means and I know they are excited about having a chance to compete in it, as we are as coaches.”

No. 16 Iowa enters this matchup as the heavy favorites and is coming off an easy 45-21 win against overmatched Miami (OH) in their season-opener. The Hawkeyes looked solid for parts of their game against the Redhawks, but they would be the first to acknowledge it wasn’t the most consistent performance from start to finish.

On the other side of the field, the Cyclones started their season on a different note with a disappointing 25-20 loss to FCS opponent Northern Iowa in Matt Campbell’s first game as Iowa State head coach. It wasn’t how many inside the program envisioned the new era beginning, but they say they’ve moved on and are focused on perhaps the most significant game on their schedule.

“I think it’s what makes college football really special,” Campbell said of the Cy-Hawk rivalry. “To play at a program like this and being a part of a rivalry like this, it’s really special. Do you talk about that with your players? You absolutely do because I think you’re at fault if you don’t. It’s something we’ve talked about since the day I arrived, through spring practice at times and obviously as we prepare for this game.”

Despite the Hawkeyes looking like clearly the better team going into Saturday, all you have to do is look back to the 2014 meeting in Iowa City between these two schools to know anything can happen. Iowa State was in similar standing as they were coming off two straight defeats at Jack Trice Stadium to open the year, including a season-opening 20-point loss to FCS foe North Dakota State.

It didn’t end up mattering. The Cyclones would shock the Hawkeyes with a 20-17 win, and even played them to a near standstill last season when they led 17-10 at halftime in Ames before giving up two Iowa touchdowns in the final 2:14 of the game and falling 31-17.

“It’s an important game certainly for both sides of the field,” Ferentz said. “I think one thing, if you look over the last five years, you can predict a close game. I think over the last five years now, it’s an average of six points differential in the games. Doesn’t seem to matter if it’s home, what happened the week before, all that stuff. Really what it gets down to is who plays the best on that given day. That’s the challenge that’s ahead of us right now.”

Prediction: Iowa 34, Iowa State 24

Game Information

Location: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa

Time: 6:30 p.m. CT

Television: Big Ten Network

All-Time Series Record: Iowa holds a 41-22 historical record against Iowa State