The noise is louder than ever for this Cy-Hawk game. Iowa is trying to block it out.

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The preseason conversation happens for game weeks like this, when the hype and anticipation crank up even louder between two fan bases dedicated to one-upping each other. Social media only amplifies the absurdity. One can drown in it all if the mental preparation isn't pristine. 

The leaders of Iowa football address this danger with their players first in fall camp, then reiterate the message whenever it is most appropriate. Doing so ahead of the most nationally relevant Cy-Hawk affair ever, loaded with distracting elements, is smart.

"When you’re young, you don’t really understand the consequences of not blocking out the noise," Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras said this week. "I’ve done both. And I’m much more comfortable with blocking it out and focusing on what is actually important to my success and the team’s success on Saturday.

"We’ve mentioned this week, like we do every week, that we need to ignore the noise. I think it’s especially important this week because there is more noise. The process for me doesn’t really change because I’m not listening to the noise anyway.

"But guys who maybe haven’t been a part of this game in their careers — freshmen or guys who were freshmen last year who haven’t seen the kind of noise that can go on in a week like this —  it’s an added emphasis for them. Like especially this week, 'You need to be careful.'"  

Embedded in Petras' words are many of the reasons why this Cy-Hawk showdown carries more weight than usual.

Members of the Iowa Hawkeyes football team huddle up prior to kicking off against Indiana at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021,

While toppling Iowa State is a golden achievement for any season, knocking off a top-10 Cyclones squad with College Football Playoff aspirations is an opportunity Iowa has never had. Iowa's own No. 12 ranking only adds to the intrigue, as does ESPN's College GameDay coming to Ames for the second time in three years. Mix in the canceled 2020 game, along with the general disdain Hawkeyes and Cyclones fans have for each other, and the final concoction is a raucous build-up spewing emotion in every direction. 

A microcosm of this occurred Tuesday afternoon, shortly after Iowa players met with the media for the first time since the Indiana win. A quote from Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson quickly made the social-media rounds — Saturday is Iowa State's "Super Bowl," he said — and the two fan bases took it from there.   

MORE: Peterson: Protect the annual Cy-Hawk game from college football's chaos

Less than 24 hours after Goodson's words hit the Internet, one tweet of the quote from Register columnist Chad Leistikow had nearly 584,000 impressions (how many times people saw the tweet on Twitter) and nearly 16,000 total engagements (how many times people interacted with the tweet). Those figures, as well as Cy-Hawk social-media dialogue everywhere else, will only increase as the week progresses.      

"For me, social media doesn’t bother me," Goodson said Tuesday in the same interview in which he dropped the Super Bowl line. "If I get on there and see something, I embrace it. If I see something that doesn’t bother me — but I don’t like — it’s more of adding fuel to the fire and making me want to go out there and play harder for my teammates and myself."

Leistikow's 4 thoughts: Placekicker a fascinating Cy-Hawk subplot; Tyler Goodson calls game Iowa State's 'Super Bowl'

Methods for honing in vary from player to player. Some can brush off outside criticism like it doesn't exist, as if those spouting nonsense were shouting into a microphone no one can hear. Others have taken longer to reach that point. Reducing the number of valued opinions in one's life is usually more a mental than tangible exercise. 

"And social media is a huge part of that," Petras said. "For me personally, the best thing that’s happened to me over the last couple years is I’ve grown to realize, good or bad, what people outside of our building think does not matter. I feel once I got to that point, you don’t have an interest in looking at what people say.

" ... We’re social beings who want to be liked. That's natural for us. That’s hard-wired in our brains and when that doesn’t happen, it can be tough. But like anything, it comes with time and experience. For me, that was the only way possible."

Iowa junior quarterback Spencer Petras scans the field for an open receiver in the fourth quarter against Indiana at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021.

It's those veteran voices who'll prove beneficial for Iowa this week. Whether the message comes from players with on-field accomplishments or program longevity, the overall theme will remain the same. 

The outside noise, both negative and supportive, may be louder this week than at any other point during Iowa's 2021 season.

Now certainly isn't the time to let it leave an impact.     

"You have people on one side saying bad things about you, but there are people on the other side who're cheering for you and saying good things about you. You have to block out both," offensive tackle Nick DeJong said. "You look at this side and you get in your own head. But then you look at the guys saying, 'Oh you’re so good , you’re so good.'

"Then you start thinking that. And that’s when you get beat."          

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.