Name the two Big 12 football teams Iowa State has failed to defeat over the past six years.
Here’s a clue: Oklahoma is one of them. The other isn’t so obvious. It’s not Texas. The Cyclones have knocked off the Longhorns twice since 2010. It’s not Baylor or Oklahoma State or Texas Tech, either. The Cyclones have beaten each of them, too.
Kansas State is the answer you’re looking for. The Wildcats have owned the Farmageddon series since 2007, beating the Cyclones eight straight times. Only Oklahoma has a longer conference winning streak against them, winning every matchup since 1990.
That may come as a surprise to the casual fan, but Iowa State players don’t need a reminder on how long it’s been since they last defeated K-State.
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“They have just had our number,” Iowa State linebacker Kane Seeley said in a phone interview. “We have been in a lot of close games with them, but, for whatever reason, we haven’t finished off those close games. I’m using that as motivation. My goal is to beat every team in the Big 12 at least once. You could definitely say beating Kansas State is a goal of mine.”
Seeley and the Cyclones came agonizingly close to achieving that goal last season. They led K-State 35-14 at halftime and appeared to clinch victory when they forced a turnover on downs with 1:31 left in the fourth quarter, up 35-28. But Iowa State lost two fumbles in the final 91 seconds, and K-State miraculously pulled off the largest comeback victory in school history 38-35.
K-State quarterback Joe Hubener, who threw for 216 yards and a touchdown that day, still struggles to explain that game to friends.
“We got a lot of lucky breaks,” Hubener said. “They should have beaten us.”
Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard agreed and fired coach Paul Rhoads the following day. Matt Campbell was hired from Toledo as his replacement.
“That was a really tough loss,” Seeley said. “No loss is a good loss, but that one was up there as one of the most challenging and most draining of my career.”
Crazy thing is, it wasn’t that out of place for this series. K-State won on a blocked extra point in 2009, on a defensive stand in 2012, and on a Jake Waters-led comeback in 2014.
Outside of a 41-7 blowout in 2013, K-State’s win streak over Iowa State has been made up of close decisions, with a margin of victory of 8.5 points.
“In some cases, we have been fortunate,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “In all cases, we have been fortunate to have a lot of good young guys who do not give in and understand that it is a 60-minute ballgame. Iowa State has always been a really good football team.”
K-State (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) is favored to beat Iowa State (1-6, 0-4) by a touchdown on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.
The Cyclones will be motivated to end their losing streak in the series. The Wildcats will be motivated to keep it going.
“They are a very, very similar team to us,” Hubener said. “They are hard-nosed, they always battle, they always play teams close. We can’t take for granted the past. We can’t assume we are going to get a win. We have to know that it is going to be a grind.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett
Kansas State at Iowa State
- When: 11 a.m. Saturday
- Where: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames
- Records: KSU 4-3, 2-2 Big 12; ISU 1-6, 0-4
- Radio: KQAM, 1480-AM, 102.5-FM; KWLS, 107.9-FM
- TV: FSKC
Other story lines
In or out: Snyder benched K-State running back Charles Jones after he lost a fumble at the goal line against Texas last week. Will he be back in the starting lineup against Iowa State or will Justin Silmon get the call? It is also unclear whether scatback Dalvin Warmack will be able to play. He injured his arm against Texas and missed the remainder of the game. Snyder says his status is uncertain.
Homecoming: K-State quarterback Jesse Ertz will play in front of more friends and family than usual in Ames. Ertz is from Burlington, Iowa. Playing in his home state should provide Ertz with a boost of motivation similar to what K-State fans saw from Iowa native Jake Waters two years ago in this series.
Young and old: At 36, Iowa State coach Matt Campbell is the youngest coach at a power-conference school. At 77, K-State coach Bill Snyder is the oldest active coach in college football.