MANHATTAN — Some snickered when fans dubbed the annual series between Kansas State and Iowa State as “Farmageddon” before a 2009 clash at Arrowhead Stadium.
Yet, here we are four years later and the phrase is still being used.
Truth be told, it’s a rivalry that has earned nickname status in recent years. Sure, the Wildcats and the Cyclones might not be the enticing matchup that the Red River Rivalry is, but Farmageddon consistently delivers something that bigger-name rivalries often lack: competitive games. Though the Wildcats have won five straight in the series, all five victories have come by single digits.
K-State needed a blocked extra point to win 24-23 in 2009, a defensive stand to survive 27-20 in 2010 and Collin Klein to win 27-21 last season. Even a 38-30 victory in 2008 and a 30-23 win in 2011 were nail-biters.
For that reason, it’s easy for the Wildcats to treat Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game against the Cyclones at Snyder Family Stadium like a serious challenge despite being favored by 16 1/2 points.
“Their program is a lot like ours — blue collar, tough, hard-nosed physical football players,” K-State center B.J. Finney said. “When you match up two teams like that, it is always a good game. Whoever makes the least amount of mistakes and executes better is going to win that game.”
There certainly are striking similarities between the programs. Both teams play in 50,000-seat stadiums and both teams value fundamentals over flash. K-State coach Bill Snyder and Paul Rhoads are friends who have known each other for years. Ames and Manhattan could be sister towns.
Snyder expects a close game every time they play.
“Their players are accustomed to a demanding program,” Snyder said. “They work extremely hard and they play hard. Our ballgames have been close for the last four years, and we have been fortunate to win each one, but we won by one, by six and by seven twice. It has always been a one-score ballgame. If they get you on your heels, you can be in trouble.”
Saturday’s game might once again come down to the final few plays, but if K-State builds off the momentum it gained from a blowout victory over West Virginia last week the Wildcats might be able to finally breathe easy in the fourth quarter against Iowa State.
But the Cyclones have fallen on hard times. Like K-State, they started the season with an unexpected loss to a Championship Subdivision team. But they haven’t bounced back since. Their only win came against Tulsa, and they are on a four-game losing streak. Their last two defeats — a 71-7 loss at Baylor and a 58-27 defeat against Oklahoma State — were especially deflating.
At Iowa State, morale is low at the moment.
“You can say that you are snake bitten, but you can’t use it as an excuse,” ISU running back Jeff Woody told reporters earlier this week. “You can’t use it as a crutch. You’ve got to have guys that are able to step in and execute at a high level, too.”
The Cyclones have entered this game as underdogs before and found a way to keep things close. Perhaps it will happen again.
It wouldn’t be Farmageddon without a tight game.