AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State’s strange season began with an opener that lasted less than five minutes.
The Cyclones will end it with a surprising revival of a rivalry that stretches back 120 years.
No. 24 Iowa State (7-4, 6-3 Big 12, No. 25 CFP) was forced to cancel its Sept. 1 game against South Dakota State in the first quarter because of lighting. The Cyclones later lined up Incarnate Word as a replacement, only to see the school reach the FCS playoffs and call off its trip to Ames.
Drake, an FCS school just 30 miles away in Des Moines, hastily agreed to fill out Iowa State’s schedule and give its players a crack at playing on the biggest stage they’ll ever see. The game on Saturday will be the 70th meeting between the Cyclones and Bulldogs (7-3, 6-2 Pioneer), but the first since 1985.
“We’re incredibly excited about the opportunity to go to Iowa State,” Drake coach Rick Fox said. “It’ll be a fun weekend. A fun event.”
Drake plays in the Pioneer Football League, considered the nation’s top non-scholarship league, and it trounced Morehead State 43-6 in its last game two weeks ago. Quarterback Grant Kraemer has thrown for 2,482 yards and 25 touchdowns, and the Bulldogs ranked eighth nationally in scoring defense at 18.3 points per game.
There’s no line on the game, and few expect the Bulldogs to keep it close for more than a half. Still, Drake seniors get one more chance to play and Iowa State’s seniors get one more crack at playing in Jack Trice Stadium in front of perhaps some 50,000 people.
“Our kids spent a lot of time and a lot of energy practicing this sport,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “You only get so many shots to play the game.”