Iowa State football making first Kinnick Stadium trip to face Iowa since 2018

Travis Hines
Des Moines Register

AMES — The ingredients for a great rivalry are pretty standard across the board.

Competitiveness, location, antipathy and, perhaps, a little insecurity go a long way in creating a great athletic feud.

One other component, though, is usually critical as well — familiarity. 

The Cy-Hawk series between Iowa and Iowa State certainly have those elements, save for one small quirk. While the Cyclones and Hawkeyes are certainly incredibly well-acquainted with each other, the cancellation of the 2020 game due to the COVID-19 pandemic has created something of an oddity. 

Just one Cyclone has ever played in a Cy-Hawk game at Kinnick Stadium, the site of this year’s matchup (3 p.m. Saturday; BTN)

“It will be good to be in Kinnick Saturday,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said, “and obviously a big week for everybody.” 

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The last time Iowa State played in Kinnick Stadium was the Hawkeyes’ 13-3 victory in 2018. Gerry Vaughn, now a starting linebacker for the Cyclones, took the field for seven special teams plays and is the only Cyclone to don cardinal and gold in a game in Iowa City. 

The Cyclones are famously 0-5 against the Hawkeyes under coach Matt Campbell, but their struggles have been amplified in Kinnick Stadium, where they’ve been outscored 55-6 (with Campbell’s first Cyclone team getting drubbed 42-3 in 2016) without scoring a touchdown in Campbell’s two games there. 

Iowa is 25-14 all-time at home in the Cy-Hawk series.

“It’s a uniquely challenging place just because it’s a great environment,” Campbell said this week. “It’s very similar to what we have here. It says about the loyalty of the fanbases in this state. A great environment to play in because they love their team, and it’s very the same thing when you come to Jack Trice Stadium.” 

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While Vaughn may be the only Iowa Stater to experience the Cy-Hawk game from the field in 2018, the Cyclones do have a number of players who traveled to the game and watched from the sidelines but did not ultimately get any snaps. 

“I know all week (in practice) we’ll be going with crowd noise, they’ll be pumping that in,” Trevor Downing, a Creston native and 2018 true freshman, said. “(Kinnick Stadium) is loud, obviously. You come off the field and their stands are right next to you.  

“There’s not a whole lot of quiet.” 

Anthony Johnson Jr., now the Cyclones’ starting safety, started four games and played in 12 as a true freshman back in 2018, but did not make the field in the Cy-Hawk game. O’Rien Vance, a Cedar Rapids Washington product, also watched from the sidelines as a backup to true freshman Mike Rose back in 2018. 

“It was a fun experience,” Vance said. “Kinnick, even growing up as a kid hearing about it, it’s always chaotic and everyone talked about it being one of the hardest places to play.  

“Going that year and witnessing it for myself, I could really see how it is a hard place to play in. This being my first chance to go there and actually play, I can’t wait for the opportunity.” 

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Vaughn may be the only Cyclone to play in a Cy-Hawk at Kinnick Stadium, but he’s not the only player to take a snap in a rivalry game there. 

Iowa State defensive lineman MJ Anderson played there last year as a member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.  

“You’ve got to control what you can control,” Anderson, who had one tackle in the Gophers’ 27-22 loss last November, said. “They try to make you beat yourself. You can’t let your emotions drain you.” 

Iowa State has had success in Kinnick Stadium relatively recently with their last two wins in the series — 2014 and 2012 — coming in Iowa City. The 2020 cancellation kept the series from matching perhaps the best Iowa State team of all time against an Iowa team that won its final six games of the season. 

“(2020) was weird in a lot of respects, obviously no fans (in attendance at games), all that stuff, late start,” Ferentz said. “But maybe one of the weirdest things is the (Cy-Hawk) series. Like for us looking back historically, we got last year and then, whoa, it felt like 10 years ago, the '19 game.” 

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Now, in Iowa State’s first trip to Iowa City in four years, the Cy-Hawk will pit an Iowa State team that is optimistic after its new-look roster offered up a 42-10 beatdown of Southeast Missouri in Week 1 while Iowa will be looking to silence critics after failing to score a touchdown in a 7-3 win over South Dakota State.

“You love playing in these games,” Campbell said. “What a great challenge to see where we are as a 2022 football team. It will be a great challenge on the road playing in their environment.” 

Travis Hines covers Iowa State University sports for the Des Moines Register and Ames Tribune. Contact him at or  (515) 284-8000. Follow him at @TravisHines21.