Stuve: What Iowa State football could do without the scheduled Iowa game

Running back Kene Nwangwu tries to gain yards during the second half of the game against Drake University at Jack Trice Stadium on Dec. 1, 2018. The Cyclones won 27-24.

Sam Stuve

With the Iowa Hawkeyes forced to cancel its nonconference games for fall sports due to the Big Ten Conference voting for its 14 schools to do so, the annual Cy-Hawk series games between it and Iowa State can’t be played. 

For the Iowa State football team, this leaves it with two open Saturdays, Sept. 12 and Oct. 24, in the 2020 season.

If the Big 12 doesn’t do what the Big Ten and Pac-12 did and cancel all nonconference games for fall sports, Iowa State may play just 11 regular season games instead of the typical 12.

Iowa State could look to fill one of the dates with a game. 

Now Iowa State could decide not to add another game and be content with playing 11 games, but if it decides to have a 12th game, it has some options.

Since Iowa State’s opening game is scheduled for Sept. 5 against South Dakota and most NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams — Iowa State and Iowa’s subdivision — have one bye week each year, if Iowa State were to add another team to face, it would likely happen Sept. 12.

Iowa State’s bye week this season is Oct. 19-24. 

If Iowa State added a game Oct. 24, it would then have its bye week after the season opener on Sept. 5, meaning it would have to play 11 games in a row. 

Again, this is only if the Big 12 doesn’t cancel nonconference games for all fall sports.

So who could Iowa State face on Sept. 12?

Not Northern Iowa or Drake. Northern Iowa plays the Idaho State Bengals and Drake plays the North Dakota State Bison on Sept. 12.

Drake does, however, have Sept. 19 off. Iowa State’s opponent on that day, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV), now has Sept. 12 off, so Iowa State could face UNLV on Sept. 12 and Drake on Sept. 19.

This could complicate things, however, so Iowa State may look to add a team to its schedule that already has Sept. 12 off.

Some teams, because of the Big Ten and Pac-12 canceling nonconference games, have that day open. 

These schools include Auburn, Brigham Young (BYU), Houston, Memphis and Virginia Tech. 

Iowa State has history with Memphis recently, beating it 21-20 in the 2017 Liberty Bowl.

There are also a few teams from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and the Mountain West Conference (MWC) that have an opening Sept. 12. 

Schools from the MAC include Ball State, Central Michigan and Northern Illinois and schools from MWC include Colorado State, Fresno State and New Mexico.

There are also some teams from other conferences that could play Iowa State on Sept. 12.

As things currently stand, many teams — if not all — are hesitant to play nonconference games, as they should be. COVID-19 is still very much a problem in the United States and the cancellation of fall sports isn’t off the table.

If the COVID-19 positive case numbers go down and it is deemed safe for football players and staff to play a full regular season schedule, Iowa State has options for a 12th game.

The virus will ultimately dictate what will happen with fall sports, especially football. It is hard to predict now what will happen a month from now, but there are many options being discussed for college football. 

One of them for Iowa State could be adding a 12th game, if it is deemed safe to do so.

The safety for people who are involved in athletic events, like football, in any way, shape or form comes first.