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27 Reasons Why Iowa Shouldn’t Waste Its Time with Iowa State

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Reese Strickland/USA Today Sports

Last week, the Iowa Hawkeyes handily dispatched the Miami (OH) RedHawks while the Iowa State Cyclones lost to FCS powerhouse Northern Iowa. Maybe ISU was looking ahead to its superbowl matchup with the Hawkeyes. Maybe it was just a sign of how bad first-year coach Matt Campbell’s squad is.

Either way, this will be the 64th meeting between these two programs. It will also be Kirk Ferentz’s 25th meeting against the Clones (as an assistant coach with Hayden Fry and as a head coach) and we, the esteemed Iowa “writers” of Off Tackle Empire, say that 27 is enough, and we have 27 reasons to support our argument.

  1. Why would Iowa play the third-best team in the state? In fact, Drake, Central and Grinnell would all contest “third-best”? But seriously, while Iowa State is 21-5-3 all-time against UNI, it is 3-3 in its last six against the Panthers going back to 2007 (Iowa has never lost to UNI). At this point, “third-best” is not hyperbole.
  2. Last year, Iowa fans repeatedly heard criticisms of the Hawkeyes’ schedule. Some of the criticisms were unfair as Iowa had no say in its conference schedule. On the other hand, Iowa has control over its non-con and scheduling a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2009 and has only been ranked twice in the final AP Top 25, well, that just won’t win points with anybody.
  3. Wisconsin just won a huge non-conference statement-game over LSU. Last year, Michigan State won a non-con statement-game over Oregon. This year, Nebraska will play Oregon having recently completed home-and-home series against Miami (FL) and UCLA. In the last two years, Minnesota has played contests against TCU and Oregon State, programs which may or may not merit national recognition, but do expand Minnesota’s brand past its state borders. Iowa State just doesn’t measure up.
  4. How many blue-eyed cardinals have you seen? Any why is a cardinal ISU’s mascot if they are the Cyclones?
  5. Over the last 10 years, Iowa State is the 2nd-worst Power-5 program in the country (after Colorado and tied with Washington State). Kansas is better. Indiana is better. Purdue is better.
  6. What does Iowa really have to gain by playing ISU? If they win, well, Iowa just beat the 2nd-worst Power-5 program in the country. And if they lose then they lost to the 2nd-worst Power-5 program in the country.
  7. Iowa State gets amped for this game. They can say whatever they want, but this is their superbowl. Win this, and no matter what else happens, the year is successful. In 2014, it was one of ISU’s two wins on the year. In 2007 it was one of three wins. If Iowa is going to play a bottom-of-the-barrel program, it does itself no justice by playing a program that goes into the game ready to put everything on the line. Because history has proven that Iowa under Kirk Ferentz is not going to match Iowa State’s enthusiasm. At that point, play a bottom-feeder that will play like a bottom-feeder.
  8. Think of how much losing to these chumps has cost Iowa. The loss in 2002 was the Hawkeyes only loss. Iowa might have been competing for the national championship (probably not, but maybe) if not for that loss. In 2007, if Iowa had won, it probably gets to seven wins and a bowl. Wouldn’t 2014 have looked much better with eight wins instead of seven? And that’s not to say Iowa wouldn’t have lost a game against a different foe, but it would be a lot easier to swallow a loss against Missouri or Houston or Arkansas or even Northern Illinois than it is to swallow a loss against a shitty team like ISU.
  9. Kirk Ferentz has always treated the non-con like NFL preseason. This makes no sense, but even if there is merit to this way of thinking, games against Iowa State tell the coaching staff virtually nothing about their team. Again, Iowa State is playing so far above its collective head that it will have a nosebleed for 8-10 days. And Iowa has so often fallen into a stupor when faced with this non-con enthusiasm. As a coach, play a team that allows you to get a good read for how your players will react. ISU is not that team.
  10. As mentioned previously, Minnesota is playing teams that expand its brand to other markets. Iowa State is still within the state and does nothing for recruiting or brand expansion. Kids within Iowa who want to play for Iowa or Iowa State have made up their minds regardless of who wins this matchup. Just ask ISU receiver Allen Lazard.
  11. The trophy sucks. The trophy has always sucked. Every iteration of the trophy has sucked. This is a sign that the trophy should not exist.
  12. It would be cool for Iowa fans to travel to Fayetteville and take on Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks. A trip to Columbia would be interesting. Lawrence, Manhattan, Stillwater? How about meeting any of these programs in Arrowhead Stadium? A trip to Ames? Eh.
  13. Iowa State is one of those sad programs that gets excited when one of its games are on TV, even though teams that aren’t garbage just consider that a normal part of the game. Why should we give them the free exposure?
  14. During one of those three seasons when they weren’t horrible, a ranked Iowa State squad wore jerseys that said “Beat Iowa” on them and promptly failed to do so.
  15. What kind of dogshit football program wears the other team’s name on their chest?
  16. The Big 12 would trade Iowa State for UNI in a heartbeat if only it were that easy. I feel like we shouldn’t get in the way of that.
  17. Sweet Caroline is such a stupid fucking song.
  18. Iowa State is the Rutgers of the Big 12: a MAC and/or C-USA team that somehow accidentally found its way into a major conference. Every single OTE “writer” not named Zuzu has been actively lobbying for Jim Delany to send Rutgers back. If we don’t want to associate with“New York TV Market” shitty team, why the hell would we want to associate with “The bar at Applebees in Ames TV Market” shitty team?
  19. I get migraines from watching Iowa State’s terrible ketchup and mustard color scheme.
  20. This game means a hell of a lot more to Cyclone fans than it does to Hawk fans, and not playing ISU anymore would make Cyclone fans sad which would in turn make me happy.
  21. The idea that Iowa would rather play Grinnell than Iowa State because the competition would be tougher actually makes sense when you realize how historically shitty ISU is as a program.
  22. In a year where Iowa plays a non-con slate that includes an FCS team and a MAC team, Iowa State is objectively the worst team on the list.
  23. Iowa State’s highest expectation and greatest realistic hope for any given season is playing in any bowl game. If Iowa isn’t playing in a game after New Years day against a team from another power conference, the season is considered an abject failure.
  24. With the B1G’s new nine-game conference slate, Iowa only has room on the non-con for one home-and-home series. That spot is taken by ISU. As long as ISU is on the schedule, look forward to more years of MAC-action, a Sun Belt or AAC foe and Iowa State. Yay!
  25. No more stupid billboards.
  26. Some great, active intra-conference rivalries include Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida State, Clemson-South Carolina, and all those great Notre Dame matchups. These rivalries have national appeal and get major exposure on major television networks. Iowa-Iowa State? Nobody outside the state of Iowa cares.
  27. Have you heard? Kirk Ferentz just got another ridiculous contract with another ridiculous buyout. Maybe this time the product will be worth the payment (though it still doesn’t justify AD Gary Barta’s myopia). Nevertheless, as a head coach, Ferentz is 8-9 for a .471 win percentage against ISU. During that time (1999-2015), ISU has an overall winning percentage of .40385. Iowa, meanwhile, has a percentage of .59346. If Iowa is going to pay that much money for a head coach, he really should perform better against the Clowns. And if not, then just skip the game entirely. As ridiculous as it sounds, Ferentz has a better chance of winning against Michigan (.545) or Penn State (.667) than he does against ISU. With that in mind, one gets the idea Iowa would be better off scheduling Oklahoma than ISU.