The Ottumwa Courier

September 11, 2013

'Cy-Hawk' means more now for sake of programs

By SCOTT JACKSON
Courier sports writer

---- — There was probably only one thing could have made a sold out crowd at Jack Trice Stadium react as loudly as they did two weeks ago Saturday when the Iowa State football team took the field for the first time in 2013.

That might have been this announcement minutes after the 6 p.m. kickoff with Northern Iowa.

“Final score from Iowa City: Northern Illinois 30, Iowa 27.”

And while Iowa State fans were able to cheer on their Cyclones as their team got its 2013 football season underway, Hawkeye fans were left once again on that opening Saturday looking up at the sky searching for answers and wondering how their team could have let yet another game slip away. For the seventh-straight game, going on 11-straight months, Iowa football fans were left only with the feeling of frustration after watching their team lose.

It wouldn’t be until a few hours later that Hawkeye fans would see a score that would give them a little bit of joy on an otherwise painful opening Saturday to the college football season.

“Final score from Ames: Northern Iowa 28, Iowa State 20.”

This week has always been a special one for even the most casual sports fans in the state of Iowa. But for much of the past decade, in particular, this particular week has felt like it should have its own special designation in the state of Iowa.

It’s "CyHawk" week. A week when all the talking, all the subtle little jabs and all the great debates among fans that have chosen sides for whatever reason ramp up the conversation, ramp up the noise and ramp up the anticipation for Saturday’s kickoff.

The debates seem to rage on all year between Hawkeye fans and Cyclone fans. Which program is in better place? Which team had a better year?

And, of course, which team is going to in possession of the "CyHawk" trophy?

Hawkeyes. Cyclones. This week, more than ever, it seems fans all around the state make it pretty clear. There’s the line. Pick your side and let’s get ready for Saturday.

May the best team win. The better team, or course, is always the matter of the debate depending on which side of the line you’re standing on.

But as "Cy-Hawk" week 2013 got underway following Iowa’s 28-14 win over Missouri State on Saturday, there didn’t feel like nearly as much fire for this year’s in-state clash on the gridiron. For Hawkeye fans, Saturday’s game was a less-then-spectacular victory over an FCS school without a victory of its own.

It was also the first time Iowa football fans had been able to celebrate a win of any kind in 11 months. That’s a drought this fan base hasn’t seen since, well, literally the turn of the century.

But at least that win gave one of the two teams playing this weekend a victory to build on going into the ’13 "CyHawk" game. Iowa State fans, of course, have had to stew for two full weeks since seeing the Panthers from Cedar Falls venture into Ames and hand Paul Rhoads’ squad a stunning loss.

So instead of two teams that always hope to enter this early season in-state showdown without losses, Iowa and Iowa State are a combined 1-2 as they take the field Saturday at 5 p.m. It’s not exactly the same kind of hype for two programs that, at times, have met as Top 25 foes in the past decades and more the once have met coming off bowl seasons.

However, perhaps that’s what makes this year’s edition of the "CyHawk" game so very important. Both Rhoads and Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz know they still have a long ways to go this season and a lot of things can happen, but both teams could sure use a powerful rivalry game victory as an early-season jump start to a potentially special year.

“This is the 2013 season, and we’re 1-1 right now, and we want to win every week,” Ferentz said. “I mean, pretty simply, and I'm sure they feel the same way. They've got 11 opportunities left; we've got 10. They're awfully important, every game is awfully important.”

Perhaps none, more so, then this Saturday’s. So pick your side Hawkeye and Cyclone fans.

Any views expressed in this column are not necessarily the views of the Ottumwa Courier. Contact Jackson at sjackson@ottumwcourier.com or sjacksonsports@yahoo.com. To follow Scott Jackson’s Twitter feed, go to @stjack423.