IOWA CITY, Iowa – The memory sits with Iowa Cornerback Greg Mabin like a bitter pill melting on his tongue. He prefers not to swallow it again.
Iowa State players sprinted to the Hawkeye bench last season, grabbed the Cy-Hawk Trophy and celebrated a 20-17 victory on the Kinnick Stadium turf. It stung the home team.
"Last year, them giving us that loss, running over to our sideline and taking the trophy and taking pictures with it and kissing it, it’s just hard to watch," Mabin said. "I don’t ever want to see that ever again as long as I’m here."
The in-state rivals meet for the 63rd time on Saturday (3:45 p.m. CT, Fox) at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. They’re 1-0 after each defeated an FCS opponent at home last week.
In addition to the Cyclones, Iowa faces recent history. Iowa State comes into Saturday having won three of the last four meetings in this series and 10 of the last 17.
The Hawkeyes are hoping to keep that talk out of their locker room. The goal is just focusing on this Saturday.
"We’re playing another good team so you don’t want any of that extra noise to get to you. You don’t want that to cause any extra pressure or any extra anxiety," Senior Running Back Jordan Canzeri said. "When people talk about how many times we’ve lost compared to winning in recent years, it doesn’t matter because those are previous years and this is 2015, this season, this team."
A sellout crowd of 61,500 is expected to watch the newest installment of this special rivalry. Eleven Hawkeyes will be making their first road start, which doesn’t include quarterback C.J. Beathard, who will be making his second.
"He’s a good player and we work hard," Senior Receiver Jacob Hillyer said. "Our preparation is what prepares us to win and be in a hostile environment. If we continue to work hard, we’ll be ready for anything."
Beathard started last season at Purdue, a game lightly attended. He also rallied the Hawkeyes to victory in the second half at Pitt in ’14.
"It was at the Steelers stadium, another hostile environment, obviously not as loud as I’m sure Iowa State will be. But I jumped in that game and executed the game plan and we ended up winning. That’s what we’ve got to do," Beathard said.
It’s hard to say what we’ll see in Ames this year with only one game for each team to use as evidence. Based on what we saw, however, the teams have in common a stingy defense but different approaches on offense.
Iowa showed in a 31-14 win against Illinois state that it can run the ball and control the clock. It ran 44 times for 210 yards and set up a passing game off a rushing attack.
Conversely, the Cyclones gained just 77 yards on 32 carries. They lost the time of possession battle to UNI, 33:10-26:50 but countered that by featuring five different receivers hauling in a catch of at least 15 yards.
Iowa State also excelled in the return game, where it took back eight punts for 193 yards. Field goal kicker Cole Netten missed two of three attempts, however, from 38 and 41 yards.
Time, TV, Announcers: 3:45 p.m. CT on FOX with Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, and Molly McGrath.
The Series: It’s the 63rd meeting in the series with Iowa holding a 40-22 advantage.
Betting Line: Iowa opened as a 6-point favorite, a number that dropped to 3.5 as of Wednesday.
-Iowa State is 4-1 Against The Spread in its last 5 non-conference games.
-Iowa is 9-3 ATS in its last 12 road games.
Match-up to Watch: We could go in several directions here. Iowa defensive end Drew Ott locking up with Cyclones left tackle Jakes Campos will be a fun competition. Going the other way, ISU DE Dale Pierson, who registered three sacks and picked off a pass in Game 1, will get either Boone Myers or Ike Boettger, starting their first road games at Iowa.
For me, this comes down to the Hawkeyes being able to limit what is arguably the best wide receiver unit they’ll face on their regular-season schedule. Allen Lazard, Quenton Bundrage, Dondre Daley and D’Vario Montgomery are a handful.
It obviously would help if Iowa both pressures and then contains Cyclone Quarterback Sam Richardson the way it did last week against Tre Roberson. But, again, the latter does not boast the same type of downfield threats.
Richardson just needs to buy enough time for someone to get open and he’s very capable of extending plays. He then can cause damage with his legs when the defense spreads out and lanes open up.
It’s imperative for the Iowa secondary to play assignment football, in this case, each sticking to his man. It’s better to let Richardson gain a few yards on the ground than to complete big passes.
Take Note: Iowa has 50 native Iowans on its roster. Iowa State has 49.
Take Note, Take Two: Junior QB C.J. Beathard is making his first Cy-Hawk Series appearance. Former Iowa QB Jake Rudock took every snap at quarterback against the Cyclones the last two seasons.
Non-Sports Related: Ames resident and ISU student, Herman Banning, became the first black flyer to obtain a federal pilot’s license and was the first black flyer to make a transcontinental flight.
Did You Know?: Actor Nick Nolte’s father, Frank Nolte, played football for the Cyclones from 1929-31.
Did You Also Know?: From 1894-1995, ISU’s yearbook was called "The Bomb."
Iowa State Wins If… its offensive line matches holds up against a strong Hawkeye D-Line.
Iowa Wins If… it controls the clock with its running game (same as last week).
Overview: Really, who knows? I don’t. This rivalry is unpredictable.
The road team has won the last three games, which makes little sense. Three of the last four meetings have been decided by a field goal, all Cyclone victories.
The largest unknown for me is figuring out how 19 Hawkeyes starting their first game at Jack Trice Stadium will respond. Iowa lists 12 first-teamers on offense, so that number likely will sit at 18, but you get the point.
Beathard’s most extensive road action at Purdue and Pitt will seem like a stroll in the park compared to what he’s walking into Saturday. We have evidence that it can eat experienced guys up with Drew Tate in ’05 being the poster child.
Iowa’s new signal caller not only needs to keep himself on task but also his teammates on offense. A few guys go sideways and the whole deal can break down.
Iowa State is better than it was last season, of that I have little doubt. Their defense is supplemented with junior college transfers and their offensive line is more stable than it was last season.
Richardson is a veteran quarterback who already has defeated Iowa at less than full health. He’s a very dangerous man on Saturday.
I think you see where I’m headed here. I really feel better about Iowa after seeing how it opened the season with much more physicality and focus than it had much of last fall.
It’s just a tough spot for a team still building back up. The intangibles favor ISU. The Cyclones also have more guys capable of making a big play.
I definitely think Iowa can win. I’m just not ready to say that it will.
Prediction: Iowa State 24, IOWA 20.