GRIDIRON EDITORIAL: Kansas State serves as sister school


ISU running back Jeff Woody breaks a tackle during the first quarter of Iowa State’s 30-23 loss to No. 11 Kansas State on Saturday in Manhattan, Kan. Woody tallied career highs in carries (24), rushing yards (86) and touchdowns (two) for the Cyclones in the loss.

Editorial Board

During postgame interviews after Iowa State’s seven-point loss to Kansas State last December, ISU running back Jeff Woody said the two teams were part of “sister” schools.

“It’s like looking at a reflecting pool,” Woody said after that game on Dec. 3, 2011. “One side or the other it’s almost identical rushing yards, passing yards, total yards, first downs — everything is identical. If there are two more evenly matched teams in the country I’d like to see them.”

While their records last season may not have been too reflective of each other — Kansas State went 10-2 en route to a Cotton Bowl appearance while Iowa State made it to the lower-ranked Pinstripe Bowl at 6-6 — those say little about these two teams as a whole.

The rivalry — cleverly named “Farmageddon” — has seen some competitive play in the past few years. While Iowa State has not beaten Kansas State since 2007, it has lost by an average of 5.75 points in those four losses.

“They’re similar to us in a lot of ways,” said ISU receiver Josh Lenz. “We don’t [have] a lot of big-name guys, but we play as a team, we come out and execute and we get things done. I’d say they’re pretty similar in that case too.”

The botched extra point at Arrowhead Stadium, the intentional fumble on the fourth-down stand in an effort to keep the drive alive going for naught — all have bred fresh contempt in the minds of Cyclone fans.

As Woody put it last year, familiarity breeds contempt.

“We aspire to be a football team that doesn’t lose games,” said ISU coach Paul Rhoads as his news conference on Monday. “A No. 1 secret in winning football games is not to lose them first. Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats, they do that week-in and week-out and they’ve proved very successful in the process of accomplishing that.”

Rhoads said his program aspires to be one that doesn’t lose games — in this particular case, he means giving games away by making simple mistakes.

But if we had to guess, this seems like it would be a common goal of every FBS football program under the sun considering no one likes to give football games away because of an unprovoked fumble in a conference opener or an unsportsmanlike penalty during crunch time to set up a game-deciding score.

With that being said, let’s delve deeper into the similarities of Iowa State and Kansas State and examine how they are truly “sister” schools.

Both schools are located in the college towns of Ames, Iowa, and Manhattan, Kan., both of which each have populations of roughly 50,000-60,000. The schools are land-grant institutions that house more than 20,000 students each and are leaders in academia.

Interestingly enough, both schools are famously known as agricultural schools. This, of course, explains the seeds that were planted by Bill Snyder and Paul Rhoads that grew into successful football programs.

“We both play hard-nosed football, we’re both teams that go and play 60 minutes of football each game,” said ISU linebacker A.J. Klein. “We go to work. They work hard, we work hard. I think people have noticed that and they’ve made their comparisons throughout the past years.”

When Snyder came to Kansas State in 1989, he took over a program that had an overall winning percentage of .370 and had not won a bowl game in its history.

Snyder has since gone on to set countless milestones while winning 66 percent of his games as the KSU coach.

Rhoads’ first year at Iowa State came 20 years after Snyder’s at Kansas State, but was capped off with a victory in the Insight Bowl.

Under Rhoads, Iowa State has experienced the rough nature of the Big 12 Conference, but the woes of losing records in the conference have been overshadowed by the monumental upsets year after year — Iowa State just recently beat No. 15 TCU, which marked the first time in program history that the team had beaten a ranked team three consecutive seasons.

While Rhoads has Iowa State headed in the right direction, it is still miles behind what Snyder has built at Kansas State simply because of Snyder’s longevity at this point.

Kansas State may be a 6.5-point favorite to win on Saturday, but expect a close game because both teams are going to be ready to play.

With the implications a win on Saturday could have for Iowa State — a winning conference record, a probable ranking in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2005 and a 50th victory against Kansas State — there’s no way it’s going to roll over that easily.

“When it comes down to it, this kind of game, it’s a ground-and-pound game,” Klein said. “It’s a very physical football game and I think we’re going to see the exact same thing come Saturday.”