The opponent: Iowa State Cyclones
Over the summer I wrote an article detailing what it’s like to experience a game at Kinnick Stadium. In the name of sportsmanship, I’m going to detail the traditions of Cyclone fans and what makes them unique. After all, there’s much more to ISU than losing to an FCS program every other year. But before we do that, let’s learn a little bit about the history of our petulant little brothers to the west:
What we know:
Iowa State University was founded in 1858 as "Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm" after a visiting delegate of the Iowa General Assembly witnessed Story County farmers hooking plows up to their firstborn sons rather than oxen or horses and trying to collect eggs from a coop full of roosters. The school began with a single cow affectionately named "Miss Jane" after the governor’s wife, but within 5 years the students had an entire barn full of animals on which to practice milking.
The college’s growth was cut short, however, when in 1895 rioting students burned the campus down after mistaking a butter churning demonstration for witchcraft. The school was renamed "Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts" upon its reopening in 1898.
In 1912 the school got its first tractor, which was destroyed in 1913 after a graduate student named Wilbur Hickenbacker attempted to plow the Skunk River to create a hybrid "walleye corn", the subject of his dissertation. Hickenbacker received his Ph.D. that spring.
The interwar years were mostly stable. The school accumulated more and more farm equipment for people to tinker with, and the football team had just 2 winless seasons. In 1939 students again burned down the school after mistaking a demonstration for witchcraft, the offending technology this time being the Atanasoff–Berry Computer. After WWII, the school was again rebuilt.
Since then, not much has changed. Apart from the biennial VEISHEA riots, the mass migrations to the Cracker Barrel in Clive every weekend and somehow not being relegated to the MAC, Iowa State remains exactly as boring and low key as you would expect.
I will sum up the football program with Iowa State’s current standing in FBS for the following records:
- 107th in all-time winning percentage
- 104th in conference championships
- 85th in all-time wins
- 80th in weeks spent ranked by the AP
- 2-8-1 record against football powerhouse Marquette University
- 0-0-1 record against State Center High School
Iowa State has many graduates that are household names, including:
- Career backup QB Sage Rosenfels
- Career backup QB Seneca Wallace
- World renowned ceramic artist Bennett Bean
- Arena Football League player Chris Anthony
- Hooters founder Ed Droste
- Arena Football League player Darius Reynolds
- Noted castrator of pigs Joni Ernst
- Former Arena Football League player Weylan Harding
What to watch for:
Iowa traditionally lines up on defense with a right cornerback and a left cornerback, but tomorrow we'll see something different. Desmond King will be posted up on Allen Lazard all night. Wherever Lazard lines up, King will be right there.
First of all: this is the right call. Lazard is the only player on Iowa State's roster that would start for Iowa, and is a shoo-in for the NFL draft. Lazard has a good 6 inches and 25 pounds on King, but Phil Parker is daring Cyclone offensive coordinator Tom Manning to have his quarterback (tossed two picks to UNI) throw towards the reigning Jim Thorpe winner (Cyclone fans: the Thorpe trophy is one of many trophies awarded to big boy teams).
King will need some help with Lazard though, and for that we look to Iowa's pass rush. Last week, the Hawkeyes completely shut down Miami's run game, but at the cost of 266 yards through the air.
Parker Hesse left the game with a (hopefully not very serious) hamstring injury and is iffy for Saturday. In his place freshmen Anthony Nelson recorded 2.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. The real question is whether or not Phil Parker is going to call a few more blitzes after his blitz-stingy game against Miami. If Iowa can get any kind of pressure on Joel Lanning, we're probably going to see some ducks get thrown Desmond King's way.
But before any of that happens, let's learn some more about how our visiting fans and how they like to football:
Iowa State Game Day Traditions
Friday nights in Ames during football season are special. Whether they’re just finishing up their shift at McDonalds or just coming home from eating at Perkins for the 3rd night in a row, for Cyclone fans the tailgating officially begins on Friday. Typically, fans will stop by the Kum & Go and grab a couple of 40’s of Busch Light or 4 packs of mini champagne bottles on the way home.
That night, fans will gather in gaggles of 10 to 15, depending on how big the guy with the only working internet connection on the block’s living room is. No matter what team they are preparing to lose to that week, the congregation will crowd around the computer and log into AOL to find every message board and blog they possibly can to be #MadAboutIowa . The topics vary week to week, but typically fall along the lines of "If we had a Big Ten schedule we’d have a winning record too" or "Lets make fun of Iowa’s Rose Bowl even though nobody on our sideline has ever played in a bowl game" or "ANF IS STUPID Y’ALL DON’T EVEN OWN TRACTORS"
Inevitably, someone in Ames will run out of booze and attempt a beer run around midnight. Nine Fridays out of ten, you will see a late-90’s pickup with a mismatched topper speeding down the street blasting Nickelback or Evanescence. Cyclone fans frequently compare this tradition to the Iowa Beer Band, only better (in their mind) and with sirens and police chases.
On Saturday mornings there are plenty of places to pick up some delicious tailgating cuisine. In fact, Iowa State tailgating is one of unheralded crown jewels of the midwestern football scene. Casey’s has breakfast pizza, Kum & Go has hot dogs and Swift Shop has bags of little chocolate donuts. Basically, if someone is shoving something other than a McRib or a double quarter pounder down their gullet, you know football is here.
And speaking of McDonald’s, did you ever wonder why the Iowa State football team dresses like Ronald McDonald? Well it turns out that Iowa State has a $12 million sponsorship deal with McDonald’s.
It’s actually a pretty sweet deal for the Cyclones. They aren’t hurting their brand since most of their fans eat there on a daily basis anyway, and it makes up for millions of dollars of lost bowl revenue over the years. And here’s a bonus fun fact: McDonald’s is the country’s largest employer of Iowa State graduates.
After eating all of their food while their Dodge Dynasty sits at a red light, ISU fans head to Jack Trice Stadium. Whether they are about to lose a heartbreaker to an FCS team, get physically dominated by a MAC team, or beat a 5-7 Texas team and pretend that means they’d do well in the B1G, they actually do a pretty good job of filling Jack Trice without the aid of Northwesternesque tarps.
Iowa fans will be familiar with how the Hawkeye Swarm runs out of the tunnel while Enter Sandman blasts throughout Kinnick Stadium. The Cyclones do something very similar. As the players emerge from the tunnel, usually reconsidering whether they really should have chosen ISU over Eastern Michigan, the crowd starts going crazy and cheering. Once the players calm down and realize that whatever is about to happen to them won’t be on any kind of national broadcast, they take the field while Two Princes by the Spin Doctors pumps through the speakers.
During the game fans might notice a red bird dancing around the sidelines. "Why does a team named after a meteorological phenomenon (ISU fans: that means weather thingey) have a bird mascot?" you might ask. Well that’s Cy the Cardinal. Like everything about Iowa State, Cy comes from being jealous of the University of Iowa. Herky first appeared in a 1948 cartoon. In Iowa State’s first ever attempt to prove they were just as good as Iowa, they conceived Cy the Cardinal in 1954 in order to have a fiesty, muscular bird of their own. You might think a bird mascot for a team named after an old timey tornado is incredibly stupid, but actually we have more to talk about so let’s move on.
Cy the Cardinal wasn’t the only thing Iowa State has done to be more like their bigger, more handsome brother. They also needed a victory song. But instead of stealing the idea to use an old drinking polka like Iowa, ISU went more contemporary and stole the idea to use Sweet Caroline from the Boston Red Sox. It gets played after every victory, so Cyclone fans get to hear it upwards of twice a year!
After the game, be it a soul-crushing last second loss or a complete blowout loss, ISU fans plod home and spend the next 6 days complaining about Iowa and hating Iowa and thinking about how Iowa wouldn’t have a winning record if they too had to play the likes of Kansas State and Texas Tech every year and being aroused by how they think Iowa will play in their bowl game and SHUT UP WE AREN’T OBSESSED WITH IOWA AND IT ISN’T OUR SUPERBOWL AND UNI IS A REALLY GOOD TEAM THERE’S NO SHAME IN LOSING TO THEM AND SO WHAT IF WE’RE THE THIRD BEST TEAM IN A STATE WITH ONLY 2 FBS PROGRAMS AND GRRRRRRRRRLDDLDSKFJHASLD SAJS LGFLSJF LJSAFGNLJSDFNLJ;AWESDJKL!