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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Sep. 7, 2007

Dexter Green

Standout Cyclone tailback Dexter Green moves the ball in the 1978 contest at Iowa. The Cyclones came away with a 31-0 victory. Photo courtesy of Athletics Communications.

A Sesquicentennial look back

The birth of a rivalry

by Diana Pounds

If every good rivalry requires bad blood, the Cyclone-Hawkeye football match-up surely approaches greatness. More than a hundred years of accusations, snubs and stormy spats brought the annual grudge match to near perfection.

Here are some of the highlights of the long-running battle of Cardinal 'n Gold vs. Black 'n Gold.

Hawks walk

The series started in 1894, with the Cyclones claiming the first victory. Three years later, the feuding began in earnest when the Hawks, claiming officials had missed a flagrant foul on a 40-yard Cyclone touchdown, stalked off the field and forfeited the game.

The early years of the big game also were marred with accusations of cheating. At one time or another, both teams played athletes who already had exhausted their eligibility at other Iowa colleges.

ADs spitting mad

Ironically, baseball, not football, escalated tensions between the two schools. In 1919, both athletics departments were run by Yale alums. On the phone, the Yalies got into a shouting match about whether ISU spitball specialist Ed Plagge would be allowed to pitch in a Cyclone-Hawkeye baseball game and soon were threatening to break off athletic relations altogether.

The state education commission thought that wasn't such a bad idea. In a report to the State Board of Education, commissioners called the annual football game "an occasion for the revival of feuds, charges and counter charges." The game subsequently was halted for 13 years (1921-33).

Dewey defeats Truman

The Hawks trounced the Cyclones when the game resumed in 1933, and an encore drubbing was expected in 1934.The Cyclones were such underdogs that the Des Moines Register had already splayed a photo of Hawkeye All-American Ozzie Simmons across its Sunday sports section. When word of Iowa State's possible upset arrived by Western Union, Register staff scurried to rebuild the sports pages, which soon would recount the Cyclones' 31-6 win.

A long time out

Iowa lost interest in the intrastate rivalry after the 1934 game, and repeatedly rebuffed overtures from Iowa State to resume play. Years turned into decades. The two teams would not meet on the football field for another 42 years.

Iowa athletics director Forrest Evashevski and ISU AD Clay Stapleton got the ball rolling again with an agreement to play six games, starting in 1977. However, the Iowa athletic board never inked the contract for the last four games, and with new Iowa AD Bump Elliott on board, Iowa balked. It would take a Board of Regents-hired arbitrator to bring the reluctant Hawkeyes back to the playing field for those final four games.

Game on

After the series resumed in 1977, enthusiastic fans flocked to the stadiums making Big Game Saturday one of the biggest sporting events of the year. The two teams have been lining up nose-to-nose every year since.

ISU 150th logo

Sesqui series

Inside is running a yearlong series of photos and articles that look back at Iowa State traditions, people and places to celebrate the sesquicentennial.