The independent student newspaper of Iowa State and Ames since 1890

Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

Iowa State set to make its return to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Matt+Campbell+greets+his+seniors+before+they+play+their+last+game+in+Jack+Trice+Stadium+against+Texas+at+Jack+Trice+Stadium+on+Nov.+18%2C+2023.
Tyler Coe
Matt Campbell greets his seniors before they play their last game in Jack Trice Stadium against Texas at Jack Trice Stadium on Nov. 18, 2023.

It is time to turn back your calendars to 2017.

For the second time in recent years, Iowa State landed a spot in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 29 with a matchup against Memphis and will play in its sixth bowl game under head coach Matt Campbell.

The announcement came Sunday afternoon followed by a press conference with Liberty Bowl Executive Director Steve Ehrhart, Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard and head coach Matt Campbell.

Ehrhart revealed Pollard had been in talks with him after clinching bowl eligibility and was adamant about Iowa State returning to Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. Given the amount of support the Cyclone fanbase showed back in 2017 and the persistence of Pollard, Iowa State started to become the favorite among Big 12 schools to make the trip to Memphis.

“[Pollard] reached out to us some time ago and he’s a persuasive kind of guy,” Ehrhart said. “He had a lot to do with that by talking about the enthusiasm of the Iowa State folks and the development of the program.”

The love between Iowa State and the atmosphere in Memphis extends all the way down to the coaching staff. The 2017 Liberty Bowl was Campbell’s first bowl game under Iowa State and brought his first trophy to Ames with the 21-20 win over the Tigers.

Campbell took the chance to look back on their last trip down to Memphis and shared his appreciation for being invited back down and participating in the 65th annual contest.

“We couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of this great bowl game,” Campbell said. “One of the absolute greatest experiences in bowl season we’ve ever had is being a part of the Liberty Bowl. It’s a great honor for myself and our program to be back.”

The Cyclones will attend their fourth Liberty Bowl in program history, and their situation this season is eerily similar to their trip back in 2017. Not only do they have the same record, 7-5, but are also following up on a disappointing season the year prior.

Despite an offseason of turnover, including off-the-field issues that shook up the depth chart, Iowa State finds itself back to playing meaningful football in late December.

“For this team with the adversity that it faced really almost every step of the way, the ability to not only respond to it but grow and get better and make the strides we’ve been able to make is really exciting,” Campbell said.

Although many predicted the Cyclones to have a repeat of last season, Pollard was confident in Campbell and his staff to get the program back on track. The fact six of Iowa State’s eight losses last season were within one score left the 19-year athletic director unfazed and had faith in another turnaround.

“It’s validation for what I know coach Campbell and his staff and our players do on a daily basis,” Pollard said. “There was a group of young men on that team last year that put in the work, that they took some lumps but we were close in all of those games. We knew it was there and the coaches knew it was there.”

The opportunity to have even more practices due to the late kickoff date serves as a favorable opportunity for a young Cyclone team that has gotten better throughout the season.

Campbell does not expect any opt-outs by members of his team and is excited about the opportunity to have the additional practices prior to the program’s 18th bowl game appearance in school history.

“I feel like it is invaluable,” Campbell said. “The only way to really get better at football is to practice football.”

Ehrhart noted that the Liberty Bowl has been known for reigniting programs and setting them up for a successful season the following year.

Especially when factoring in Iowa State’s success after their historic win in 2017, Pollard hopes that history will repeat itself in one of the oldest bowl games in college football.

“I’m fired up for coach Campbell and our young team and this is a great opportunity for us,” Pollard said. “It is not the conclusion of this season, it is actually the start of the future.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to Iowa State Daily
$2510
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of the Iowa State Daily. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, send our student journalists to conferences and off-set their cost of living so they can continue to do best-in-the-nation work at the Iowa State Daily.

More to Discover
Donate to Iowa State Daily
$2510
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Iowa State Daily Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *