ESPN will bring its College GameDay show to Ames, Iowa, on Saturday in the state's biggest rivalry game, but the visiting Iowa Hawkeyes will bring something they consider just as special.
A lockdown defense.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and his No. 19-ranked Hawkeyes (2-0) will travel to the heart of Iowa to face the Cyclones (1-0) in Jack Trice Stadium in the 67th meeting between the schools, with Iowa holding a 44-22 advantage.
Ferentz, who is 11-9 in the series, has felt streaky highs and lows -- and the in-state rivalry was not good to him or his Hawkeyes at the start of his tenure.
After replacing Hayden Fry following the 1998 campaign when Fry lost to Iowa State for the first time in 15 years, Ferentz immediately received the brunt of the series, losing the first four meetings with Iowa State as the Cyclones built their rivalry-best five-game winning streak from 1998-2002.
Since then, times have been better for Ferentz, 64, as Iowa has won 11 of the last 16 encounters, including a 13-3 home victory last season in Iowa City.
The Cyclones totaled just 188 yards of offense that day and never took the ball into the end zone, as the home side held Iowa State to its lowest yardage output since 2013, a 55-game stretch.
The win was Iowa's fourth straight in the series. Ferentz will again rely on the sturdy attack created by defensive coordinator Phil Parker, whose unit authored its third shutout in its last seven Big Ten games and allowed a mere 125 yards in a 30-0 win over Rutgers last Saturday.
"Defensively, thought the guys did a good job up front. (Defensive end) A.J. (Epenesa) gave us some good pressure and worked hard, certainly getting two picks like that was great ... and the two picks really influenced and impacted the football game," said Ferentz, whose squad has recorded an FBS-best 44 interceptions over the last two-plus seasons.
Head coach Matt Campbell and his Cyclones will look for a better effort after rallying in the fourth quarter and eventually beating Northern Iowa, 29-26, in three overtimes in Ames two weeks ago.
Iowa State survived a potential mammoth upset by UNI, an FCS program, after quarterback Brock Purdy recovered a fumble by running back Sheldon Croney Jr. near the goal line with the Cyclones down 26-23 in the third OT.
The running back redeemed himself by scoring on the next play to avoid an upset in a season that opened with the Cyclones ranked in the preseason Top 25 for the first time since 1978.
Before the season, Iowa State was one of 11 Power 5 schools to never host ESPN's long-running pregame show. Campbell said perspective is key when playing host to a national audience.
"It's great for our state, great for both programs and everything, but from our end of it keeping our detail and really staying in the moment is really important for us," he said.
"We'll do a really good job of trying to handle it, be conducive as best we can but also kind of stay in the moment the best we can as well."
--Field Level Media