Did you know that as of today we're 100 days away from the next CyHawk game between Iowa and Iowa State? It's true:
Fun fact: it's been 1,727 days since Iowa State beat Iowa in football (way back on September 13, 2014). Long may that streak continue. While this year's Iowa-Iowa State could be one of the most intriguing -- and most hyped -- games in the recent history of the series (if not ever; there's a not-quite-impossible chance of both teams being ranked for that game), we received news earlier this week that the series will continue on into the future.
And of course it will. Love it, hate it, tolerate it -- the CyHawk series is unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon. It's been a fixture on the schedule for both teams since 1977. It's annually one of the biggest and buzziest games in the state -- for both teams. And with Iowa's steady consistency and Iowa State's rising profile under Matt Campbell, it's been gaining in national prominence recently as well.
There was a time, not all that long ago, when there was much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments about the Iowa-Iowa State series. That it didn't do anything for Iowa because beating Iowa State was of little to no value, while losing to them was a double whammy: it gave in-state bragging rights to little brother and made Iowa an easy punching bag for out-of-state folks. There were plenty of impassioned pleas to ditch the series for... something else. A home-and-home series with a Pac 12 team! A home-and-home series with an SEC foe! Notre Dame!
The home-and-home nature of the Iowa-Iowa State series has long limited Iowa's non-conference scheduling (though, technically speaking, Iowa's insistence on having seven home games is what really limits their non-conference scheduling flexibility) and it's only become even more of a limiting factor in the era of nine Big Ten games and just three non-conference games. So long as Iowa plays nine Big Ten games and maintains this annual series with Iowa State, the odds of Iowa playing anyone outside of #MACtion (or its Mountain West, Conference USA, or Sun Belt equivalents) or FBS opposition in their other two non-conference games are somewhere between "slim" and "none." (Incidentally, that "so long as Iowa plays nine Big Ten games" caveat may be why this extension only stretched the series through the 2025 season, rather than longer into the future. If the Big Ten expands yet again -- or the league decides that a 10-game league schedule is desirable -- then the continued existence of the Iowa-Iowa State series might actually come under peril.)
So be it. It's certainly easier to be a bit more magnanimous about the Iowa-Iowa State series on the back of four straight wins; we haven't had to hear the jabs of little brother since 2014, which is always good. Kirk Ferentz has even managed to get a winning record against the 'Clones -- he's 11-9 against ISU entering the 2019 season and 7-3 over the last decade. And while ISU's improvement under Campbell means the games themselves are stiffer tests (although given the voodoo present in this series over the last 20 years, the actual Iowa-Iowa State games have often been plenty hard for Iowa regardless of the level of competence of the ISU coach on the opposing sideline or the actual quality of the Cyclone team on the field), it also makes the wins a bit more satisfying -- and gives them a bit more value as well. A win over Iowa State isn't yet a major resume-booster, but it's not an anchor, either. That also suggests that a hypothetical loss to Iowa State also wouldn't be a major drag on their resume, but so long as Iowa keeps beating Iowa State, we don't have to worry about that particular reality and what it might entail.
So bring on the Cyclones. First in 100 days and then again for the next six years -- and, almost certainly, many more beyond that.