May 24, 2017

Farmageddon: The quietest rivalry

Rivalries in college football are unique—some have trophies, many have interesting origin stories, and most feature two fan bases that hate each other. In an age of bowl slates with 80 teams and the “BCS Bowls” essentially being reduced to a 4-team playoff, the postseason is becoming less lucrative to many teams and rivalry games are becoming even more meaningful.

Enter: Farmageddon. By many programs’ standards, it’s not a rivalry game. There’s no trophy. There is no origin story involving pigs, telephones, or local politics. And as far as Big 12 fan bases go, there might not be a more civil marriage than Iowa State and Kansas State fans. At the end of the day, they are two agriculture schools in towns of less than 60,000 that are used to losing in football—and they happen to be playing in their 100th-consecutive matchup this year.

Iowa State is the 4th-losingest program in college football history with 636 losses. Kansas State is the 5th with 633. Iowa State has 514 program wins, Kansas State has 513. When it comes to historical football success, these two have none. However, there are some things each school does better than the other. A short list:

  1. Agriculture: The rivalry was lovingly dubbed “Farmageddon” because, frankly, the two schools are consistently better at farming than they are football. But if this rivalry was settled on a field of combines and hog farms, Iowa State slaughters the competition. Iowa is the No. 1 producer of corn, pork and eggs, as well as 2nd in soybean production. Iowa State’s agriculture program ranks higher than Kansas State’s by practically every legitimate publication. Kansas is a hard-working farming state that deserves no criticism, but they certainly don’t match what Iowa does.
  2. Education: I hate to say it, but both of these schools are about as far from being Ivy League in academics as they are from being SEC West in football. They are respectable land grant universities that give quality educations, but just don’t offer world-class methods, courses or degrees that many others that rank ahead of them have. But that’s not to say they are on the same level—Iowa State is one of 60 Association of American Universities members and ranks more than 100 spots above Kansas State in Niche.com’s academic rankings. Furthermore, Iowa State is attracting students at record rates with enrollment at 37,000 with an 86% acceptance rate. Kansas State is smaller at 25,000 students, but accept 95%(!!!) of their applicants. Get smart, farming bros. Be better.
  3. Partying: Conference expansion has raised plenty of questions about the fate of Big 12 schools not named Oklahoma and Texas, and Kansas State and Iowa State have been long speculated to be “left out” in the end. An odd knock on each school has been, “there’s nothing to do in Manhattan or Ames.” This is partially true—compared to some college towns, there aren’t the same amount of opportunities. And that’s why we drink. A lot. Kansas State is known for “Aggieville,” the vibrant bar and shopping district that gives a place for students to drink. Welch Ave. is a decent strip of bars with a mix of house parties in surrounding neighborhoods, but we will give the edge to Kansas State… for bars. When it comes to tailgating, there may not be a better atmosphere in the Big 12 than around Jack Trice. And VEISHEA was one of the best parties in the nation before “nothing to do” turned into “doing too much” and getting it cancelled forever. Party so hard you get a decades-long tradition cancelled? Win, Iowa State.
  4. Football: Okay, I’ll be nice. Iowa State looks up to Kansas State. We have to. You can’t continue to support a football team with zero success without some hope for improvement, and Kansas State is proof that you can crawl out of the cellar. Hell, their legendary leader wizard has nine more 10-win seasons than Iowa State has in history. If I’m going to give Kansas State any category, it might as well be this one.

But heading into the 100th installment of Farmageddon, there may be winds of change. The past eight-ish seasons have seen unprecedented program support, monumental upsets, and facility improvements to compete with the biggest programs in the nation. In those eight seasons, Kansas State has been the one constant—agonizing losses. They cost ISU a bowl game in 2010. It cost them a 5-1 start and continued movement into the top-25 in 2012. They’ve cost ISU fans many bottles of alcohol and lots of pride. To top it off, the Wildcats have done a lot of it with Iowans leading the charge: Collin Klein and now Jesse Ertz at quarterback. The Cyclones aren’t just losing to the Wildcats, they are losing to their own kin.

That is no more. Wizards are only as good as the magic and spells they know, and Matt Campbell presents a new set of challenges for the aging Snyder. This isn’t a rivalry full of hate and incredible football history, it’s about two rural communities with something to prove.

For 99 years, it’s been a quiet football rivalry. On Saturday, Iowa State is going to make lots of noise.

Catch the Kansas State side of the story here.

Alex Gookin 4 Articles
Staff Writer

Gookin is an Iowa State student majoring in journalism, but made the realization that wouldn’t be the career he wanted to pursue until far too late. Instead, he took an unpaid position to write content for this blog, which seems counter-intuitive, but he enjoys it, nonetheless. Gookin was voted male with the “Most School Spirit,” and 2nd most flirtatious in his senior class. He enjoys statistics no one else has the patience to look up and enjoys Iowa State athletics more than he’s willing to admit. A closet Hawkeye fan (false), you can find Alex being harassed by at least one bad Twitter troll and winning nearly all of his online fights (less false, but false).

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