June 15, 2024

The Continued Rise of Farmageddon

November 9, 2002. That was the last—and only—time that Iowa State and Kansas State have met on the gridiron with seven or more wins each. And for the 8th-longest continuous rivalry in college football, that’s fairly notable.

The Cyclones came into the game ranked 21st in the nation at 7-3 with their three losses coming to teams ranked #2, #3, and #7. They were lead by electric quarterback, Seneca Wallace, who was having perhaps the best season by a signal-caller in school history.

Kansas State was ranked 12th, with a 7-2 record and ready to host the Cyclones under the lights at home. It was a pivotal Big 12 North matchup, with the winner set up nicely to make a run at the division title.

And it was a disaster of a game—for the Cyclones, at least.

In what ended up one of the worst games of Wallace’s career, the QB threw two pick-sixes and the Cyclones turned the ball over six times en route to a 58-7 mauling at the hands of the Wildcats. The Cyclones would continue their downward spiral, losing out to finish the season 7-7. The Wildcats would continue to rise, winning out to finish 11-2 and ranked 7th in the final poll. In many ways, the game was a microcosm of each team’s season.

We at the Tailgate Society have kind of adopted the Farmageddon rivalry as a rallying cry of sorts. Although we have writers from more than a dozen states with a wide array of fandom, we have consistently had both Cyclone and Wildcat fans write for the site and share their perspectives on the rivalry.

I even did a bit of an investigative piece on Iowa State’s biggest conference rivals during the offseason, polling 400 Cyclone fans and having them rank each Big 12 team in order of most to least football and basketball rivals. It wasn’t even really that close—the Wildcats took the top spot among Cyclone fans in football and overall conference rival.

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To further our Farmageddon love, one of the more popular pieces on the site was the suggestion to give Farmageddon a trophy that fits the rivalry—an antique tractor that the winning team gets to drive off the field. It covers all the bases necessary for a good rivalry trophy: A grassroots movement not driven by corporate sponsors, historical relevance, and a unique trophy that represents something for both schools. 

As mentioned, this is the 8th-longest running rivalry in college football. Iowa State leads the series narrowly, 50-48-4. Iowa State University and Kansas State University are land grant schools with well-respected agriculture, engineering, and veterinary programs. Also, by most standards, the Cyclones and Wildcats have been two of the worst major football programs in college football history—most millennials have seen some of the worst and best of both programs. This isn’t the best rivalry in college football—not even the Big 12 conference—but it’s one worthy of a trophy and certainly of an annual Rivalry Week spot.

The 2019 version of the Farmageddon rivalry has some parallels to that 2002 matchup. Iowa State is led by an electric QB in a season plagued by losses to tough teams. Kansas State hosts the Cyclones under the lights in a game that can help define their season. 

But while the stakes aren’t quite as high as they were in 2002, a loss is certain to add to the heartbreak of seasons full of promise. The Cyclones come into the game 7-4 with the four losses coming by a combined 11 points. The Wildcats were expected to be a bit of a rebuild with new coach Chris Klieman, but come into the game 7-4 with the high of a win against #5 Oklahoma, followed by back-to-back losses by less than a touchdown. Inconsistent play and missed opportunities have resulted in a combined 12 games decided by a touchdown or less between the two teams. So what’s in store for the 103rd meeting between these two teams?

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Theatrics, undoubtedly.

The last decade-plus of the rivalry has been well-documented, and there may be no rivalry in college football with the nail-biting reputation that Farmageddon has established over the past several seasons. The last five contests in the series have been decided by an average of 3.4 points and 10 of the last 11 have been decided by one score or less. After Iowa State rallied from down 17 points in the fourth quarter to knock off the Wildcats in the final week of last season, Kansas State is hoping to return the favor this year.

And while this may be just the second time we’ll see seven-win Cyclone and Wildcat teams face off, it probably won’t be the last. For a rivalry that has survived mediocrity and flat-out apathy for over a century, Farmageddon deserves your undivided attention now that it has become something both fanbases can look forward to. 

Anyhoo, who has a tractor they’d like to donate?

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Alex Gookin
Alex Gookin 65 Articles
Staff Writer

Gookin is an Iowa State graduate with a degree in journalism, but decided writing professionally wasn't all it was cracked up to be. 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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