Notebook: “College GameDay” previews historic Cy-Hawk game

Desmond Howard on the ESPN College GameDay set on Saturday, September 14, 2019.

Sam Stuve

In what is occasionally referred to as “Iowa’s Super Bowl,” the 2021 edition of the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series game between Iowa and Iowa State is drawing more attention than ever before.

Not only is this the first time that No. 10 Iowa (1-0) and No. 9 Iowa State (1-0) are playing each other as ranked teams, but it’s the first time they are playing one another as top-10 teams.

Because of that, ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew is set to have their show in Ames on Saturday, marking the second time that the television program has come to Ames. 

While this season is still young, this game could be a season defining one for both teams, as well as some players.

College GameDay host Rece Davis, analyst Desmond Howard and ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe previewed Saturday’s contest in a media session on Friday. 

A “Heisman stage” for Breece Hall

One player that came up a lot in Friday’s media availability with the “College GameDay” crew was Iowa State running back Breece Hall, who was a Heisman finalist a year ago.  

He is a Heisman Trophy contender once again and one analyst who has Hall as a Heisman finalist is Howard, who won the 1991 Heisman Trophy when he played for Michigan. 

“Obviously he didn’t start off strong, but obviously there are a lot of games left to be played,” Howard said.

Hall rushed the ball 23 times for 69 yards and one touchdown in Iowa State’s 16-10 win over Northern Iowa.

As for Saturday’s game against No. 10 Iowa, it’s a “Heisman stage” for Hall, according to Howard.  

“Tomorrow’s like the highest stage, last week was not, tomorrow’s a Heisman stage,” Howard said Friday. “If he’s going to be like one of those guys who, you know, gets a trip to New York, when it’s all said and done, then that happens tomorrow for me as a voter.” 

Davis had similar thoughts on what this game could mean for Hall.  

“You have the only top-10 game in the sport tomorrow, if a guy like Breece Hall, who led the nation in rushing last season, comes out and puts a big number on a notoriously tough run defense and they win the game, it could certainly elevate his status,” Davis said. “It’s not the end all be all, but it’s certainly an important jumping off point for him.” 

Like he and his coaches, as well as the College GameDay crew have said, the team goals are way more important than the personal one. 

While a strong performance on Saturday may mean a lot for Hall, a win may also mean a lot for Iowa State in a couple ways. 

GameDay crew talk Cy-Hawk rivalry and atmosphere

Throughout the country, there are many rivalries between in-state foes.

Last time College GameDay was in Ames was in 2019 when Iowa held on to beat Iowa State 18-17. The atmosphere was something to behold for GameDay analysts.

“I thought that this rivalry will compare with some of the big rivalries,” Howard said when asked what he thought of the rivalry before coming to Ames in 2019. 

Now, two years later, College GameDay is back in Ames and the stakes are much higher. 

“Anytime it’s in-state and you have two that are ranked like this, you have the Hawkeyes team that has been respected in the Big Ten, then the Cyclones team has been gaining and gaining so much respect, not only in the Big 12, but I believe nationally to the net just adds adds fuel to the rivalry and makes it that much more special.”

With any rivalry there’s a certain level of animosity that should be expected and with this rivalry it’s not different.

That, along with generosity to her, is something that Rowe has noticed in covering these two teams. 

“Well it’s so fascinating because every time I come to Iowa, I’m just always blown away by how nice people are and it’s just like, ‘Oh my gosh’, that the Iowa people are always so kind and loving, the Hawkeye fans are so great to me, that the Iowa State fans are so great to me,” she said.

“Then I see Twitter and social media and realize they’re just not nice to each other. So Iowa fans, and Iowa State fans are the nicest people in the world unless they’re playing each other.”

Rowe said she’s had an awesome experience in getting ready for this game.

Iowa is coming into this game riding a five game winning streak in the series and a four game winning streak against Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium.

Davis gave his opinion on what this year’s game may mean for each team, based on what the perception, if there is one, of each team may be. 

“Iowa wants desperately to keep Iowa State where they perceived they should be, which is ‘they can be good, just not as good as us,”’ Davis said. “‘ And Iowa State fans, I think look at this as a proving ground, and rightfully so.”

“I know they’ve (Iowa State) won some games, and they’ve broken hearts over the years at times, but as we stand right here, where we are in this era, the Matt Campbell era, who is not only one of the brightest young coaches, but one of the best coaches, in the game, they need to win the game.”