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How have Iowa State head coaches fared in first game against Iowa?

With Matt Campbell getting ready for his first ever edition of the Cy-Hawk series, I was curious to see how the previous Iowa State head coaches fared against Iowa. Now, we know the all-time series heavily favors the Hawkeyes. The exact record is 41-22 in favor of Iowa. But, what about their first seasons on the job? How did every coach do in his first game against Iowa in the past 39 years? Let’s take a look.

1979: Head coach Donnie Duncan – LOST to Iowa 30-14 

  • Duncan is the only head coach to have a winning record against Iowa, winning three straight after the opening loss, and finishing 3-1 in the rivalry.

1983: Head coach Jim Criner – LOST to Iowa 51-10 

  • Criner lost all four games he coaches against the Hawkeyes, and those losses were ugly. The average score in the games favored Iowa 53-10 (52.5 to 10.25 to be exact). Yikes!

1987: Head coach Jim Walden – LOST to Iowa 48-9 

  • Walden lost all 8 games against the Hawkeyes, but at least kept the games a bit closer, with half of them decided by 10 points or less.

1995: Head coach Dan McCarney – LOST to Iowa 27-10 

  • McCarney lost the opener, but eventually, in 1998, helped the Cyclones snap their 15-game (and 15-year) losing streak against Iowa. McCarney actually ripped off an Iowa State-best 5-game winning streak from 1998-2002. McCarney finished his tenure a very respectable 6-6 against the Hawkeyes.

2007: Head coach Gene Chizik – BEAT Iowa 15-13

  • Chizik only spent two seasons in Ames, where he split his two games as head coach.

2009: Head coach Paul Rhoads – LOST to Iowa 35-3

  • Rhoads always seemed to overachieve against Iowa, going 3-4, and winning each of the three games by three points.

So, long story short, NO, Matt Campbell does not ‘have’ to win Saturday’s game against Iowa. In fact, the only coach to win his first game against Iowa in the past 35+ seasons was Gene Chizik, who was gone after two seasons. So, for Iowa State fans who want to use history as any kind of barometer, maybe a loss isn’t such a bad thing for Campell, IF you want him to have a long tenure in Ames.

The series ran from 1894-1920, with 1896 and 1903 the only years skipped during that timeframe. Over that stretch, the Cyclones went 7-15 (despite winning the first 3 games in the series).

The two teams took a break before splitting a pair of games in 1933 and 1934. From there, it was a 33 year hiatus, which has, thankfully, since been renewed and has been played every season since. Since the renewal, Iowa State is 16-25 against their in-state rivals.

Sure, we all want to see Matt Campbell pull off the win on Saturday (especially after last week’s brutal loss to Northern Iowa). But, if there is any solace in a pending loss … it’s that it just might mean Campbell hangs around Ames longer than some expect 🙂

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