A Hawkeye state of mind

Sept. 14, 2008

by Sean Neugent

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Intrastate rivalries seem to bring out the best in teams. There is something to be said about being the pride of your home state. The University of Iowa made one thing clear Saturday in Kinnick Stadium: the Hawkeyes are the champagne of the state of Iowa in 2008. Iowa defeated Iowa State, 17-5, on Sept. 13 to re-capture the Cy-Hawk Trophy.

“Fortunately I was on the field the last play when we took a knee,” said wide receiver Andy Brodell, an Ankeny native. “I was one of the first guys there to hold up the trophy, so it felt good.”

“Growing up, I watched the Iowa-Iowa State game with my friends,” said tight end Allen Reisner, a sophomore from Marion. “They were all Iowa fans that lived 20 minutes away. They were just rooting for Iowa all the time. Last year, we were there and lost, so we had a little dirty taste in our mouth. We came back this year and played well. It was a great feeling. Obviously getting a trophy is always a good feeling.”

The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry is a game marked on several native Iowans’ calendars — football aficionado or not — it is that important. It is a rivalry that is bigger than the game itself with bragging rights on the table. The games are always intense, nerve-racking and end up being nail-biters. Just look at last season’s game that was won by five Iowa State field goals. Drama is what makes the Iowa-ISU game so appealing and there was plenty of it to go around on Saturday afternoon at Kinnick Stadium.

Iowa’s game next Saturday at Pittsburgh will be televised live by ESPN2 with coverage to begin at 11 a.m. Iowa time.

“We’re thrilled with the win,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “As I just said on the radio, lipstick or no lipstick, it looked pretty good to me, and we’re just thrilled with the way our guys competed and played hard. Like we said earlier in the week about that point spread (Iowa was favored 13 1/2), anybody making a spread like that really doesn’t know anything about the series. Both teams turned out today and competed extremely hard. It was a tough football game on both sides of the field, and I’m just thrilled that our guys were able to come up with the plays that they had to make to come out victorious.”

“It feels great anytime you can come out against your arch-rival and have everyone work together and get a win,” said defensive back Tyler Sash, a freshman from Oskaloosa.

It may have been a rain-filled, dreary day in Iowa City, but you would never know it judging by a jam-packed stadium filled with black, gold, red and white. The only thing the rain dampened was the field conditions for what was already going to be considered a defensive battle.

One play seems to make or break Iowa or Iowa State every year. This year it went in Iowa’s favor when Brodell returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown to seal the game.

“Obviously this was a big game,” Brodell said. “I’m from Iowa, so it is even bigger for me. After last year we had a lot to come out and prove. It felt great just to celebrate with the seniors and the rest of the team. There were a lot of Iowa State people out there. They are only about 25 minutes up the road from where I live. It is a big game for anybody, but especially Iowa kids.”

The Hawkeye roster is filled with home-grown talent. Twenty-nine players are from the state of Iowa and know that beating the Cyclones means more than just a victory — it is an entitlement. It entitles you as the best team in the state, but it never comes easy.

“I think with me being a part of the program for so long, about four and a half years that is what meant so much to me is being a part of it,” said defensive lineman Mitch King, who is from Burlington. “It is good to be on top, especially in my last season, bringing that trophy back for our fans and our program.”

As time ticked away and the Hawkeyes had the game put away, Iowa fans chanted “Hawkeye State,” before rushing the field to help their teammates hoist the Cy-Hawk Trophy. It was certainly a bittersweet victory.

“We have great fans, we have a great student section,” King said. “We cherish that. We thought we would sing the fight song and sing along. We like doing that especially after a big win like today.”

“I missed the celebration, but I’m just happy for our guys because it meant a lot to them,” Ferentz said. “I’m just happy that they’re able to have some fun, have some fun afterwards. We knew this was going to be a tough ballgame and I’ll make a prediction — probably the next 10 will be pretty tough, too, when we play Iowa State. That’s just the nature of the game, and it’s obviously more fun to be on the top side of it.”

A limited number of “singles” are available for Iowa’s games against Northwestern, Wisconsin and Penn State. Tickets are also available for the home season finalé against Purdue. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 1-800 IA-HAWKS or click HERE.