Quick start key for Iowa State in Cy-Hawk showdown

Iowa State lost to the University of Iowa 42-3 on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, at Kinnick Stadium.

Aaron Marner

When the Iowa Hawkeyes take an early lead, the game is as good as over.

As coach Matt Campbell and the Cyclones saw during last year’s 42-3 drubbing in Iowa City, they can’t fall into an early deficit.

Since the beginning of the 2015 season, Iowa has a 21-7 record overall. When its opponent scores first, Iowa is just 2-6 in that time.

When the Hawkeyes score first, they’re 19-1.

“That’s a good stat to know,” Campbell said. “At the end of it, for us, it is about playing four really good quarters.

“This is a team that knows how to win, it’s a team that’s had success, it’s got a lot of guys back, it’s got some really good leadership and it’s going to be a great test for us to play four quarters.”

Playing a full four quarters was an issue for the Cyclones last year, as Iowa State lost fourth quarter leads in three separate games. In two of them — versus Baylor and at Oklahoma State — the Cyclones blew leads of 10 or more points.

But you can’t blow a fourth quarter lead without getting the lead in the first place. Iowa State felt the pressure of coming from behind last week when Northern Iowa took a 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game. Thanks to two defensive touchdowns, the Cyclones were able to overcome that deficit quickly.

“That first half was pretty slow,” said Jake Campos, redshirt senior offensive tackle. “It took us a while to get in the groove of things, but once we did we got rolling pretty good.”

Last year’s Cy-Hawk game was the perfect example of a slow start ending the game before it really got going.

“There’s been a lot of good [Cy-Hawk games],” said redshirt senior linebacker Joel Lanning. “I feel like growing up it always came down to a game-winning field goal on both sides, either we did it or they did it.”

That wasn’t the case last season, however. Iowa took a 14-0 lead to start the game and a 28-3 lead into the halftime break, which shows the importance of getting off to a strong start.

“If we’re going to put ourselves in a position to go win the game, we’re going to have to play four great quarters,” Campbell said. “It starts with one. Last year we couldn’t even get one on them out of the gate.”

Part of that is because of how Iowa State’s roster is so much different than Iowa’s. Against the Big 12, Iowa State needs a plethora of defensive backs and speed is always a key. For Iowa in the Big Ten, teams tend to run more and size is often more important than agility.

“They’ve always got a big, stout front seven,” Campos said. “They’ll come out and bring it every single down and that’s something you’ve got to respect every single year.”

With last year’s slow start fresh on everyone’s mind, the seniors on the team are doing everything they can to avoid another similar result.

“It’s huge,” Lanning said of the rivalry. “You grow up and all you do is dream about playing in the Iowa-Iowa State game. You grow up watching it every single year and how competitive it is. It’s huge, it’s fun.”