Cyclones prepping for rowdy West Virginia crowd

Iowa State head football coach Matt Campbell watches from the sideline during the Cyclones’ 59-7 win over Kansas on Oct. 2, 2021.

Sam Stuve

Coming off of a 24-21 win over Oklahoma State in front of a raucous sold out home crowd, No. 22 Iowa State hits the road for a game in front of what may be yet another raucous crowd, that being West Virginia.

West Virginia has been drawing over 55,000 fans a game at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium, which fits 60,000.

But despite the fact that West Virginia hasn’t been drawing a full capacity crowd on average, Iowa State coaches and players are expecting the crowd to be boisterous.

The last time West Virginia had a top-25 opponent they were able to sell the stadium out, going up against then 15th-ranked Virginia Tech on Sept. 18. 

For Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, West Virginia is a crowd and a fanbase that he knows well, having grown up in Massillon, Ohio, 161 miles away from the West Virginia campus in Morgantown, West Virginia. 

“I probably can relate enough to growing up in that area, that I think just the fan base there, I think the passion that the people and the fans of West Virginia have for their Mountaineers being the only show in the state, the only show in town. It’s a hard place to play,” Campbell said Wednesday. 

Campbell said Tuesday that he grew up going to West Virginia games “a little bit.”

Because of this, Campbell said this is going to be an added challenge.

“I think their passion, their love and they’re fanatical about their team makes it a great challenge. You know, it’s gonna be a packed house, it’s really important to everybody in that state and their families. I think it does make it a really special place to go play college football,” he said.

From the players’ perspective, it appears to be a tough environment as well.

“It’s a great place. It’s a great atmosphere and the fans are wild. We love coming into Morgantown, it gives us a different scenery, especially being in West Virginia. It’s nice, I like it,” Iowa State senior linebacker O’Rien Vance said. 

While the scenery may be different, the feel in the stadium may be similar to what the Cyclones already know. 

Both Iowa State and West Virginia’s stadiums were built by the same general contractor Huber, Hunt and Nichols, with Jack Trice Stadium having a 60,000 seat capacity and Milan Puskar Stadium having a 55,000 seat capacity. Both fan bases are generally loud more often than not.

Since Campbell came to Iowa State in 2016, he has a 3-2 record against West Virginia, going 1-1 in Morgantown.

And coming into this season’s matchup, it may feel like a case of deja vu for Iowa State. Back in 2017, the Cyclones came into the matchup against the Mountaineers with a 6-2 record (they are 5-2 now) and had just beaten an unranked top program in the country at the time, No. 4 TCU (Iowa State just beat No. 8 Oklahoma State). 

But this time around, West Virginia’s record is a bit different. West Virginia is 3-4 (1-3 Big 12) and was 5-3 at the time it played Iowa State in 2017.

Despite West Virginia’s losing record, it has played in close games more often than not, with three of its four losses coming by one possession.

This includes a three-point loss at Oklahoma.

“I think this West Virginia team is one of the most talented teams that we have played. I think they’re a team that is as up and coming as anybody in our conference. There’s a lot of youth on this roster right now. But boy, there is a lot of talent,” Campbell said.

West Virginia doesn’t have a winning record, but Iowa State appears to be focused on the task ahead.