Iowa's C.J. Beathard embracing trash talk in first Cy-Hawk game

Chad Leistikow

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard is prepared for your worst insults this week, Cyclone fans. In fact, he's feeding off them.

He's heard them before. Even though he didn't play during a 27-21 win in Iowa's most recent trip to Jack Trice Stadium in 2013, Beathard remembers some fans talking "stuff."

What kind of stuff?

"Trash-talking," Beathard said. "Some stuff shouldn't be said."

But he remembers it.

"It kind of gets you going," Beathard said. "I'm kind of excited for that."

Talk of the Cy-Hawk rivalry, which resumes at 3:45 p.m. Saturday in Ames with a Fox national telecast, was good-natured during Iowa's player interviews Tuesday morning. Drew Ott poked fun at the Cyclones' fight song (which is being pumped into the locker room this week, a practice Iowa uses for all of its road opponents to prepare for crowd environment), saying: "It's not a very catchy fight song, in my opinion."

This week marks Beathard's first full experience with the rivalry, which has gone Iowa State's way three of the past four years. A fourth-year junior from Franklin, Tenn., Beathard has never taken a snap against the Cyclones. Last season, he watched Iowa State come into Kinnick Stadium and win 20-17 on Cole Netten's 47-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining.

Ike Boettger (75) has gone from playing quarterback in high school to protecting quarterback C.J. Beathard as Iowa's starting right offensive tackle.

Iowa led 14-3 at halftime, but the game turned on the Hawkeyes' first possession of the third quarter. Quarterback Jake Rudock was intercepted by Iowa State's T.J. Mutcherson in Iowa territory, and the Sam Richardson-led Cyclones turned the pick into seven points.

"It was kind of a weird game, and we ended up losing on a last-second field goal," Beathard recalled. "It was kind of like a shock. 'Dang, we just lost that game.'"

Beathard would have liked a chance to spark the offense, which was a second-half mess. Rudock had one of his worst starts in two years as a Hawkeye, going 6-for-11 for 43 yards after halftime.

"All those games (last year), I wouldn't have minded coming in," Beathard said. "The coaches made the right decision; they went with Jake. We're on to this season. We're excited for this upcoming game."

Beathard is leading the 2015 charge, with Rudock now at Michigan as a fifth-year transfer. Beathard improved to 2-0 as a starter in Iowa's opening 31-14 win over Illinois State, accounting for 237 yards of offense and three touchdowns (two rushing) with no turnovers.

He has experience winning on the road, relieving an injured Rudock a year ago to rally Iowa to a 24-20 victory at Pittsburgh and winning at Purdue 24-10 the following week.

But those environments were nothing like what awaits the Hawkeyes at Jack Trice Stadium, which increased its capacity to 61,500 by bowling in the south end zone prior to the season. The game is a sellout.

Beathard carries a quiet confidence about himself, something his teammates rally around. His leadership has been praised since he was named the starter over Rudock on Jan. 8.

Reversing last year's loss to Iowa State, Beathard said, would be another step in flushing the 7-6 disappointment of 2014. Accomplishing that comes down to details, not emotion.

"You can't listen to the outside noise," Beathard said. "We've just got to focus on us and do what we can do. We know if we play well, if we play our best football, we can win the game."

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