College GameDay brings fan bases together in Ames

ESPN's College GameDay visited Ames on Saturday, and both Iowa and Iowa State fans showed up in droves.


Shivansh Ahuja

Anchors host during ESPN College GameDay before the annual Cy-Hawk football game between Iowa and Iowa State in Ames on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. This was GameDay's first visit to Ames.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

AMES — Each year, the Cy-Hawk game divides the state of Iowa in two. In most cases, a person is either an Iowa fan or Iowa State fan for the day. There’s no in-between.

But instead of being cut into two sides on Saturday, the fan bases came together thanks to a popular ESPN pregame show.

College GameDay rolled into Ames before the Cy-Hawk battle’s 3 p.m. kickoff, and both sides were well-represented.

With a national focus on a rivalry the state knows very well, both sides took advantage by showing their passions.

“It definitely pulled everyone together,” said Kevin Ossler, an Iowa State graduate who made the drive from Colorado to attend GameDay. “Whether you’re cheering for Iowa or cheering for Iowa State, it’s really just about the pride of your school and the pride of where you come from.”

That national spotlight brought to Ames by GameDay parlayed itself into a couple of visits from celebrities.

Country music star Eric Church assumed the role of guess picker on Saturday, making friends with Hawkeye nation by choosing Iowa to down the Cyclones.

Also present was actor Gerald Downey, more commonly known in Iowa as “Busch Guy” after appearing in several advertisements for Busch Light.

“This is so exciting to be here,” Downey said. “I’m so excited that the ‘Busch Guy’ is here in the state of Iowa to be at this game. This has been crazy. I met some great, great people, wonderful people. We’re having such a good time here, so I’ve been having a blast.”

Throughout the home team’s cardinal and gold, celebrity appearances here and there, and orange Home Depot advertisements scattered across the GameDay set, large bodies of black and gold invaded the city.

Despite Iowa fans moving around Ames in swarms, the home Cyclones still beat the Hawkeyes in attendance.

“You’re outnumbered quite a bit, but it’s still fun,” Hawkeye fan Brandon Koch said. “It’s a great rivalry every year. It’s going to be a good game, so we’re just ready to have fun.”

The fan bases were pulled apart, however, when it came to the GameDay analysts announcing their picks.

Church and Kirk Herbstreit were the only pickers who selected Iowa to topple Iowa State, but Desmond Howard, David Pollack, and Lee Corso chose the Cyclones to end Iowa’s four-game Cy-Hawk winning streak.

Corso almost flipped on the home crowd, hyping Iowa up before ultimately taking Cy’s mascot head and plopping it on his own.

Although GameDay united both fan bases for the duration of the show, Corso’s decision sparked a battle between the sides that can only be decided on the field.

“I was a little disappointed in him,” Koch said. “I thought he would go with Herky, but it’s all right — we’re going to show him what we’re made of today.”

Cyclone fans don’t think so.

“The fact that he took the bird head and put it on after enjoying teasing us for the nice Iowa pick,” Ossler said. “No, we all knew from the get-go that it was going to be ISU.”

View photos from the College GameDay action

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