Let me start with this: I hate Iowa State. I hate their fans who are perfectly happy with winning 2 games a year if one of the wins is against Iowa. I hate Paul Rhoads-- the half man, half cartoon character they hired to be their coach. I hate that the only winning season he produced was a 7-6 effort back in 2009, and that he has never produced a winning record in Big XII play, but his success against the Hawkeyes means his seat is only barely starting to warm up. I hate that he would have been fired by now if he coached at any other power-5 school. I hate that he acted like a petulant child when Iowa tried to flip Allen Lazard, a completely normal practice in today's college football world. I hate that the only time all year where the Cyclones put a product on the field that even vaguely resembles the game of football is when they play the Hawkeyes (*sigh*...Steele Jantz....). I hate that what Iowa fans see as one of several annual rivalry games might as well be the Super Bowl for Iowa State fans.
And yet, I can only blame the Hawkeyes for making me feel this way. Iowa State has worse facilities, worse coaches and worse players, but you wouldn't know that by watching the annual Cy-Hawk game. Each year, the Hawkeyes look like an unorganized mess while the 'Clones turn into a perfect football machine. Should I really hate Iowa State for getting ready for the game while Ferentz sits there and scratches his head? Probably not, but I absolutely do. Perhaps I should even give credit to the Iowa State coaching staff for having a team that is far more prepared and consistently winning a game that shouldn't even be a contest. I've long been a Ferentz apologist, but there is no excuse for his failure to deal with Iowa State. In another universe, this game would be an easy warm-up for Iowa before the Big Ten schedule starts. Instead, we get a Kafkaesque nightmare with no explanation.
In the scheme of things, this week's game has little bearing on the Hawkeyes. A win or a loss in this game is rarely indicative of how Iowa will finish the season. It's a non-con game that they would like to put in the win column, but it has no bearing of whether or not they make it to Indianapolis in December. Yet, give credit to Iowa State, because by having so much success over the last 20 or so years, they have given meaning to this game. A win on Saturday means more to me than it has any right to. It's about being able to call Iowa State the little brother and having that be the end of the discussion. It's about putting a (hilariously stupid looking) trophy back in a very, very empty case. It's about Kirk Ferentz taking care of business and not embarrassing himself or the program. But mostly, it's about getting Paul Rhoads fired so I don't have to see his smug face anymore.