Douglas: Ames makes perfect host for GameDay

Iowa State wide receiver Deshaunte Jones runs upfield after catching a pass during the 29-26 Iowa State victory over Northern Iowa on Aug. 31 at Jack Trice Stadium.

Zane Douglas

Ames was the right decision for ESPN College GameDay.

The goal of College GameDay is to be the best game all week, which in this case is the game between Iowa State and Iowa on Saturday.

There are plenty of reasons this makes sense.

Iowa State is at its peak

Iowa State has burst onto the scene as a surprise team to watch in the Big 12 since Matt Campbell’s second season coaching the team — and this might be the Cyclones’ best group yet.

There have certainly been more anticipated seasons for Iowa State’s other athletic teams, but as far as football goes, this is one of its most anticipated seasons ever.

For the first time since 1978 and the second time ever, Iowa State came into the season ranked in the AP Preseason Poll.

Iowa State is also coming off of two eight-win seasons, the latter of which ended at one of the more prestigious bowl games in the nation — the Alamo bowl.

The Cyclones did suffer some key losses at the end of last season thanks to David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler going to the NFL and Brian Peavy graduating.

Sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy might have something to do with the high expectations, because he stepped in and shined last season as a true freshman.

The defense also might contribute to the expectations, since they are still stacked with returning players despite the loss of Peavy.

It might be the coaching staff who welcomed the returner of offensive coordinator Tom Manning from his NFL job, or it could be thanks to Campbell refusing any NFL opportunities that came his way.

Or maybe it’s a culmination of all of these for a fan base that has gotten used to losing.

Pro players

Hakeem Butler and David Montgomery — a wide receiver and running back respectively — played huge roles in the Cyclone offense last season, but they were drafted into the NFL in 2019 for their potential as pro-level talents.

Montgomery is perhaps the most likely to succeed thanks to the outpouring of praise he’s already received from his new coach, Matt Nagy of the Bears.

The Bears took Montgomery in the third round after trading Jordan Howard, their lead running back in the previous season.

Montgomery impressed in training camp and preseason enough for Nagy to take him out after one preseason game and effectively name him the starter.

The first game of the season between the Bears and Packers saw him match up against his former Cyclone teammate Allen Lazard, a wide receiver.

Two Cyclones, on center stage, in the first NFL game of the season.

Butler was drafted a round after Montgomery and an injury has already derailed his 2019 season, but Butler and Montgomery have the chance to put Iowa State on the map.

Never been here

Something that’s been talked about a lot already is Iowa State having never hosted College GameDay, and that’s why the Cyclones deserve it.

GameDay analysts don’t pay attention to who has and hasn’t seen the GameDay desk arrive outside their stadium; however, this is still a great reason why they should have GameDay because it’s interesting to see new teams showcased on center stage.

Iowa rivalry

If you like rivalry games then this is the one for you.

Iowa State and Iowa match up every year to play in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk series.

For the first time ever this fall, the Hawkeyes and Cyclones saw their names together in the AP Preseason Poll.

Recently, the rivalry has been riddled with nail biters, but a Hawkeye fan will be quick to remind Ames of who has dominated this rivalry.

Since Matt Campbell’s second season started, the game between these two has been a relative tossup, one offensive shootout and one… something else.

The 2018 edition of the game was a little rough to watch with the offense for the Hawkeyes and the Cyclones leaving something to be desired.

The rivalry, despite lasts season’s drag through the mud, is as strong as ever, which makes College GameDay’s decision the right one.