Hensley: Thank you, Iowa State, for being relevant

Finally, Iowa State football is relevant again, and that means it’s worth scheduling the Cy-Hawk game.

Iowa+State+wide+receiver+Hakeem+Butler+celebrates+a+touchdown+during+the+Iowa%2FIowa+State+game+for+the+Cy-Hawk+trophy+in+Jack+Trice+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+9%2C+2017.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Cyclones%2C+44-41%2C+in+overtime.
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Hensley: Thank you, Iowa State, for being relevant

Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler celebrates a touchdown during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, 44-41, in overtime.

Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler celebrates a touchdown during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, 44-41, in overtime.

Joseph Cress

Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler celebrates a touchdown during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, 44-41, in overtime.

Joseph Cress

Joseph Cress

Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler celebrates a touchdown during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, 44-41, in overtime.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

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Well, well, well. Here we are again. The annual Cy-Hawk football game.

In years past, I haven’t been the biggest fan of this game. Sure, an in-state rivalry that’s often full of close games can be fun, but from a strength-of-schedule view, I didn’t really think it was worth it.

However, now that Iowa State is making legitimate noise (for the first time since Sage Rosenfels was under center), the game has serious implications. So, thank you, Iowa State, for being relevant again.

Looking at Iowa’s typical nonconference schedules, they’re not sound. As most Hawkeye fans know, Colin Cowherd tabbed the team the “Fake ID” of college football because of a soft schedule (although he did take the title away after Iowa toppled Ohio State last year). Having Iowa State on the schedule didn’t help that cause one bit.

Typically (and the numbers back me up), Iowa State isn’t good by any means. The Cyclones have had just two winning season, including last year, in the past 10 seasons. To put this into perspective, Iowa had more regular season wins in 2015 (12) than Iowa State had from 2013-2016.

Yet, the Hawkeyes have only won four of the past seven contests between the two. Iowa State, as much of a cellar-dweller (not THE cellar-dweller, as that basketball school called Kansas resides in the conference) in the Big 12 as it previously was, took down Iowa in three of four tries from 2011-2014.

So, Iowa could either:

A) Beat a team it’s supposed to on paper B) Lose to a team it shouldn’t on paper.

The Cy-Hawk game was a lose-lose in football terms (I get there’s money involved, but I also don’t care. I’m talking from a football perspective, a strength-of-schedule perspective). It wasn’t worth it.

However, that’s changed.

Iowa State is relevant once again, and for that reason, I’m all about the game this season.

Coach Matt Campbell has done a fantastic job in Ames. Whereas during the Paul Rhoads era, Iowa State’s big game was the Cy-Hawk battle, now the team has its sights set on bigger things, such as competing for a Big 12 Championship.

If Rhoads were still coaching at Iowa State, this column would be different. I would probably write about how this game is just as relevant (again, from a football perspective) as facing Northern Illinois. Instead, we’ve got two well-coached, finely tuned teams squaring off at the rivalry’s peak — both teams should win at least eight games this season and be fighting for legitimate bowl games.

Last season’s game was a whirlwind of action, and from a football fanatic’s perspective, it was fantastic to watch (not so much if you love defense, though). It was a high-scoring game with back-and-forth action, and it came down to the wire. I go back to this game in 2017 and, while it was only the second start for Hawkeye quarterback Nate Stanley, I consider it his breakout game.

Looking ahead to Saturday, I think this game will be just as competitive as, if not more than, last season’s thriller.

So, as the entire state drunkenly swarms to Iowa City for the mecca of in-state college football, I want to make one thing clear: Thank you, Iowa State, for returning to relevancy.

Keep it this way. It’s good for both teams.

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