Matt Campbell doesn’t seem that worried that conference realignment might eliminate Iowa State’s biggest rivalry game each season.
As teams moves around due to realignment — the latest being USC and UCLA to the Big Ten in 2024 — college football fans are concerned that traditional rivalries are going to the side. And some are. Some, meanwhile, are being renewed. Texas and Texas A&M, which saw their rivalry end when the Aggies left for the SEC, will be reunited in 2025.
Iowa State may not have that issue. The Cyclones’ biggest rival is Iowa, which plays in the Big Ten. With Iowa State in the Big 12, and neither team seeking to run from the other as the different chess pieces move around the board, Campbell believes the unique nature of Iowa sports helps insulate Cyclones fans and Hawkeyes fans from losing their yearly meeting for the Cy-Hawk Trophy.
“In our state, we’re really fortunate,” Campbell said. “There are no pro sports teams. To have two Power Five programs to be able to compete against one another, I think it’s really special for our entire state. I know that’s meant a lot to the state of Iowa, certainly means a lot to our alumni bases and our universities. So for us we’re really grateful that that’s continued and certainly has the opportunity to continue moving forward.”
Per the Des Moines Register, the contract for the game is through 2025. That will be right around the time that Texas and Oklahoma head for the SEC and both the Big Ten and the Big 12 have new television contracts. But, with three or four non-conference games each season, the Cyclones and the Hawkeyes have plenty of incentive to keep their rivalry alive. The pair meet on Sept. 10 this season.
But, the game hasn’t always been an annual fixture. The two teams first played in 1894 and met almost annually until 1920. The two teams then played two more games in 1933 and 1934, and then took a long break until they renewed the game in 1977. The Cyclones and Hawkeyes have played every year since, with the exception of 2020 due to COVID-19.
Iowa leads the series, 46-22.
Iowa State is coming off a 2021 in which it went 7-6 overall and 5-4 in Big 12 action. The Cyclones played in the Cheez-it Bowl against Clemson, losing 20-13. The Cyclones actually had the Big 12’s best passing offense (263.8 yards per game) and the best passing defense (188.2 yards per game), the latter of which was No. 11 in the country.
This will be a season of transition for Campbell, who is losing some of the most important players of his career at Iowa State. Quarterback Brock Purdy was one of the league’s best passers and he ended up being drafted in the NFL as ‘Mr. Irrelevant,’ or the last pick in the draft. Running back Breece Hall and tight end Charlie Kolar were also drafted by the NFL, with Hall potentially in line to start for the New York Jets as a rookie.
The Cyclones return only eight starters, but one of them is pass rusher Will McDonald IV, one of the best in the Big 12 and in the country. He had 11 1/2 sacks last season. The Cyclones also have wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson returning after catching 83 passes for 987 yards and five touchdowns last year.
The Cyclones open the season on Sept. 3 at home against Southeast Missouri, followed by a road trip to traditional rival Iowa on Sept. 10. The Cyclones start Big 12 action on Sept. 24 at home against defending Big 12 champion Baylor.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.