IOWA CITY — It was already big.
But, Saturday’s Cy-Hawk football game got even bigger Tuesday when Iowa joined Iowa State in the top 10 in this week’s Associated Press college football poll.
After a season-opening win over 17th-ranked Indiana, the Hawkeyes climbed eight spots to 10th in this week’s poll and are positioned one spot behind the ninth-ranked Cyclones.
The 3:30 p.m. game at ISU’s Jack Trice Stadium was already positioned to be the first-ever meeting between the in-state rivals when both were ranked, among the reasons Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz shrugged his shoulders Tuesday when asked about the unique situation.
"I can’t remember this not being a tough game, although I guess I can go back to the ’80s and there were a couple that weren’t so tough," Ferentz said at his weekly news conference.
"But the last 20, 22 years, anytime we’ve lined up, it’s been a tough challenge. The records have been different over the course of time, certainly, but you just always expect it to be a real battle, and I think this will be the same way. It just so happens that right now both of us have teams that have had some success."
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The last three games between the teams have been one-possession battles in the fourth quarter and only one of Iowa’s last five visits to Iowa State has been decided by more than six points.
Two of the games have reached overtime, and a single point determined the outcome in the most recent meeting, an 18-17 win by the Hawkeyes that is part of an ongoing five-game win streak in the series.
That came two years ago and, watching tape, Ferentz sees similarities and differences.
"The big difference is that when you look at our game from last time, there’s a lot of guys on that film in their red uniforms that are still there and a lot of guys in our white uniforms that weren’t there," Ferentz said.
For many Hawkeyes, including those who made their debuts a year ago when the Big Ten Conference limited attendance to family members, Saturday’s game will be their first in front of a hostile road crowd.
"It’s going to be a different experience for a lot of guys. The attention to detail and the focus are going to be important," said center Tyler Linderbaum, who joins receiver Nico Ragaini and free safety Jack Koerner as the only projected Iowa starters who were in the lineup the last time the two teams met.
"I trust our guys, though, trust that we’ll get the job done if anything goes wrong and we have to handle adversity."
Ferentz is interested to see how his team responds to the environment.
"It’s one more thing that adds to the degree of difficulty, especially coming off of last year," Ferentz said. "We had some guys who played last year, but they don’t know what it’s like to go on the road in a hostile environment."
Coaches try all sorts of things during practice to prepare their teams for that environment, but Ferentz said doing things such as playing loud music does not duplicate what the Hawkeyes will deal with away from home.
"You just have to experience it sometimes," Ferentz said. "I thought it impacted (Indiana) the other day, helped us a little bit. It’s just one more thing that we’re going to have to try to push through."
Running back Tyler Goodson was among Hawkeyes who experienced the atmosphere at Jack Trice Stadium in 2019. Then a true freshman, Goodson carried three times for 16 yards.
Breece Hall, the current workhorse in the ISU backfield, had one run for no gain in the last match-up, which was decided on a 39-yard field goal by Keith Duncan with 4 minutes, 51 seconds remaining.
Goodson remembers the atmosphere from that game and welcomes the challenge it provides.
"Coming from Georgia, I didn’t know a lot about the rivalry until I got here, but on the field, you hear it," Goodson said. "You just have to go play. You have a job to do and that is where your mind has to be, on getting the job done."
Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras echoed those thoughts, fully understanding that a different feel accompanies this match-up.
He remembers being on the sidelines at Kinnick Stadium in 2018 when Iowa used a 2-yard touchdown run by Mekhi Sargent in the fourth quarter to claim a 13-3 win, listening to a seemingly-endless chant of "I – O – W – A" from the crowd early in the final quarter.
"It seemed like it went on for 15 minutes," Petras said. "I was like, holy smokes, this is different than any game I’ve ever been to."