I've heard a lot of Cyclone Nation complain that by playing our yearly game against KSU in Arrowhead, we throw out any chance at maintaining a home field advantage. I don't disagree, and in the upcoming years, every win that gets us closer to the magic number of six is going to be crucial. However, I think that this game is going to be very important looking into a very unclear conference future.
Here's the deal.
This off-season very nearly ended up relegating us to the MAC both as a football team and as a fanbase. When Texas and Nebraska were splintering the Big XII apart like a 2 by 4 at Mitch Ellis' house, several sources had ISU being lumped in with Kansas, Mizzou, and Kansas State in a mass move to the Big East. And as you may or may not have noticed, the Big XII only survived because Texas was appeased, and we all know how well appeasement keeps these problems from re-surfacing.
Fun Fact: Under this analogy, Mack Brown is Hitler.
So let's assume that our conference may in fact not last forever. If the Big XII does end up dissolving within the next five years, there is a good chance that wherever we go, there is a very good chance we will end up in a conference with Kansas State. Fostering a budding rivalry KSU means that no matter where we go, we will have someone to hate.
And really, KSU has a lot in common with ISU. Talent-wise, we match up pretty well year in and year out. (Our all-time record against KSU is 49-40-4) We are both agricultural/engineering schools based in the center of midwestern states that most people living on the coasts couldn't find on a map. We both have an in-state "Big Brother" who seems to constantly overshadow our athletic achievements. (Although it tends to be basketball with KSU.), And we were both part of the original Big 8, so there is a history there.
Yeah, I know, it's a pain in the ass to have to drive down to Kansas City and I know it's hard to take a team wearing purple seriously. But look at our other rivalries. Missouri was practically begging the Big 10 to take them out of the Big XII. If the Big Ten goes to 9 conference games, Iowa could find a way to get out of the annual Iowa-ISU game. Nebraska is running for the Big Ten next year. But you know what? We'll always have Kansas State.
If we are to move forward as a team and be taken seriously in Division 1 football, we need to win some high-profile games. A yearly game at Arrowhead Stadium, which is always likely to be televised, helps us do exactly that. And Kansas State is a team that we should be able to play close and get some "gutsy" wins against. So lets get out to KC and fill up Arrowhead. And maybe this year we can even make our Extra Points.
Speaking from experience, get someone else to drive and pitch in for gas. Because as soon as you hit the Missouri border, everyone who isn't driving can crack a beer thanks to their state's bizarre open container laws. Makes that drive go a LOT faster.