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‘It’s gonna be huge’: Excitement levels high for Cy-Hawk matchup

Tyler Coe
Chase Contreras nails a 56 yard field goal as time expires in the first half against UNI at Jack Trice Stadium on Sept. 2, 2023.

The Cyclones will look to keep the Cy-Hawk trophy in Ames for the first time in over a decade, as they take on Iowa at home on Saturday.

Iowa State won the matchup in 2022 in Iowa City, taking down Iowa 10-7. That was the first win Iowa State had over the Hawkeyes in the Matt Campbell era.

Although the last matchup was low-scoring, both teams are boasting new looks on offense. Those offenses were on display in week one, as both teams started the season 1-0 thanks to efficient offensive play.

In Iowa State’s 30-9 win over Northern Iowa, the team showed off a variety of talent and different looks across the board. By the end of the game, Iowa State had switched up its defense almost entirely.

“You got to see a lot of guys do a lot of different things, and I think that was hugely positive,” Campbell said.

Going into the week one matchup with UNI, the Cyclones were planning on figuring out a lot of pieces on offense and answering a variety of questions. The biggest thing that Iowa State figured out against UNI was who the primary quarterback would be.

Rocco Becht started the game for Iowa State, while true freshman JJ Kohl took some reps. In the small amount of plays that both quarterbacks had, it was clear that as the offense continues to develop, Becht will be the starter for a while.

Becht had an efficient game while commanding the offense down the field. He finished the game with two touchdown passes and one touchdown on the ground. Becht even had a couple long throws that were just a touch off from being touchdowns.

“There’s definitely plays in there that I want back, just a couple deep balls, but you know, we’ll get them right,” Becht said.

As the offense continues to develop, those small inaccuracies will be worked out. Going into an important matchup with Iowa, Becht will continue to work efficiently.

Not only will Becht continue to grow as he prepares to start against the Hawkeyes, but Kohl might also see some reps.

“I’m really excited about their development, and just being able to go and execute that at an even higher level coming up this week,” Iowa State offensive coordinator Nate Scheelhaase said.

With the offense still growing, the star of the show against UNI was Iowa State’s defense. The defense only allowed nine points, with just one touchdown given up late in the fourth quarter.

Along with playing a solid game throughout, the Cyclones capitalized off turnovers and solid special teams play to get points on the board constantly.

“Definitely a good game, but never satisfied, always trying to have a better game next week,” Darien Porter said.

As the team works to keep improving, they have a tall task in front of them. Iowa played similarly to Iowa State, as the Hawkeye defense locked down Utah State all day.

The only touchdown that Iowa gave up was also during garbage time late in the final quarter of play.

“Their ability to play good defense,” Campbell said. “They’ve been nothing short of exceptional on that side of the football. They kinda know who they are, they know where their help is and they’re gonna play really hard and they’re gonna be really physical.”

In order to deal with Iowa’s physical and aggressive defense, Campbell noted that efficiency was going to be crucial. With Becht behind center, the Cyclones should come out as efficiently as they did against UNI.

In the past, Cy-Hawk games have been decided by the mistakes. Whether it is turnovers or special teams errors, the Cyclones found ways to lose against Iowa. However, the team knows if they can be consistent and focus on the details, they can compete closely against Iowa.

“If we don’t turn over the ball, good things will happen,” Becht said.

Keeping a lid on the errors and protecting the football are the biggest things if Iowa State wants to win in front of a packed home crowd. With how the atmosphere is expected to be, a win over Iowa could set the tone for the season.

Campbell noted how important the matchup is for both schools and how it is beneficial to have a tough test early in the season. With both teams still finding their identities, the game should uncover some places to fix and help them improve.

“It’s a great test for both teams in the early part of the football season,” Campbell said.

Iowa State is set to take on Iowa in the annual Cy-Hawk match at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium. The game will be aired live on FOX.

“Hopefully we can keep the Cy-Hawk in Ames,” Caleb Bacon said. “It’s gonna be huge.”

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