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The CyHawk Rivalry

The CyHawk Rivalry

The CyHawk Rivalry

Since 1977, the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones have annually faced off for the CyHawk Trophy. The CyHawk Rivalry was founded in 1976 and the trophy was awarded to Iowa after winning the first matchup in 1977. The programs played yearly in the early 1900s, but a 40-year hiatus spanned the mid-century until the introduction of the trophy in 1977. The return of the annual contest marked the new beginning of what would become the bitter, in-state football rivalry all Iowans know; the CyHawk Rivalry.

The Hawkeyes have won the previous five matchups, and six of the last seven. However, recent performance does not matter when it comes to this September rivalry game. On multiple occasions, the game has involved abnormal point totals, unconventional plays, and dramatic finishes on both ends. The previous three matchups have been decided by a total of only 15 points. 

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History Speaks

In 2019, the weather in Ames resulted in a pair of lightning delays lasting more than three hours. In what turned out to be a night game, Iowa led 18-17 late in the fourth quarter when they punted to give the ball back to Iowa State. Cyclone quarterback Brock Purdy had been looking good late in the game, and Iowa State had all the momentum. As the punt was falling towards the field, an Iowa State blocker ran into their return man and the ball bounced off his back and into play. Iowa jumped on the loose ball and took over with 90 seconds remaining in the game. The Hawkeyes took a knee to win in a dramatic turn of events.

Just two years prior, again in Ames, the 2017 contest went into overtime tied at 38 apiece. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley had a 300-plus yard performance with five touchdowns. On the other side, Cyclone quarterback Jacob Park ended with 350 yards and four touchdowns. In an unusually high-scoring affair, Iowa tossed a short touchdown pass to true freshman Ihmir Smith-Marsette in overtime to win 44-41. This would be the highest-scoring CyHawk game since 2011 where Iowa State won 44-41 in triple overtime. Point totals in the mid-80s are a rare look for both Iowa and Iowa State in a typical conference matchup, but all bets are off when the CyHawk Trophy is on the line.

It also does not matter what kind of season expectations each team has. Obviously, this year, both Iowa and Iowa State are in the national picture. However, even in down years, this game can define a season. Back in 2014, Iowa State traveled to Iowa City and walked off on a last-second field goal to beat Iowa 20-17. That year, Iowa State would only win two games, Iowa and Toledo. It was a poor season for the Cyclones, but they got to reclaim the CyHawk Trophy from Iowa City. An empty trophy case in the facility is a constant reminder of a painful rivalry loss, and that never sits well.

Big-Stage CyHawk

College Gameday will be in Ames at the site of the CyHawk Rivalry for the second time in three seasons. College football fans around the country will be tuned in to central Iowa for the popular pregame show. ABC will be airing the game in front of national eyes. Iowans know what the rivalry means: the ownership of the CyHawk Trophy and in-state bragging rights. The game typically flies under the national radar. But on Saturday, the entire country will get a taste of what the CyHawk Rivalry represents. This time, it has Playoff-level implications.


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