In-state colleges Iowa State (7-4, 6-3 Big 12) and Drake (7-3, 6-2 Pioneer League) collide to cap off the regular season at 11 a.m. on Cyclones.TV.
The Cyclones cycled through three different opponents for a 12th game, but the Bulldogs are locked in for the matchup.
“We’re most grateful to Drake Athletics Director Brian Hardin, coach Rick Fox and the Bulldog leadership team for working with us through a very fluid situation,” said Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard in a press release. “Coach (Matt) Campbell wants to play a 12th game and I believe our fans would welcome another chance to see this bowl-bound team play.
“I know the Bulldogs will enjoy the chance to play at Jack Trice Stadium and compete against a Power 5 opponent.”
The void of a 12th opponent emerged on Iowa State’s opening night, when it was set to face the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in a night game at Jack Trice Stadium.
When Sept. 1 rolled around, Ames saw some showers early in the morning, but by 7 a.m. the rain subsided. After the 7 p.m. kickoff, the rain returned.
About five minutes of game time passed before the game moved into a delay. After a long delay, the game was officially canceled, joining a handful of other games around the U.S. canceled from poor weather.
Many minds jumped to the idea of a Sunday game on Sept. 2, but Pollard explained the logistics of a game on such short notice in a letter to fans.
“We did not seriously consider playing the game on Sunday for several reasons, including hotel accommodations for SDSU late last night,” Pollard said in the letter to fans. “Furthermore, had we attempted to play today we would have been impacting normal preparation for the team's games this week.
“Lastly, the forecast for today included more of the same type of weather we experienced last night.”
The following day remained relatively dry, but the decision had been made. With the Jackrabbits out of the picture, Pollard and Iowa State Athletics scrambled to find a 12th opponent. Iowa State targeted Oct. 20 during Iowa State’s bye week or Dec. 1 during the championship games.
Iowa State announced its match on Sept. 12 with FCS school Incarnate Word. The game was set for Dec. 1 at 1 p.m., and the Cyclones would pay Incarnate Word $300,000 and provide flight to central Iowa.
The only way the game would fall through again would be more bad luck with weather, the Cyclones advancing to the Big 12 Championship or Incarnate Word making the FCS playoffs.
"We explored multiple options to give our student-athletes every opportunity to compete and, ultimately, be eligible to participate in a bowl game,” Pollard said in a release. “Our student-athletes only have so many chances in their career to play collegiate football. I'm very grateful to the administration at UIW for helping us provide our student-athletes, as well as our marching band and spirit squad another chance to represent Iowa State University."
With the 12th game solved, Iowa State rattled off a string of wins behind freshman quarterback Brock Purdy’s explosion into the Cyclone offense. In mid-November, people viewed Iowa State as a legitimate threat to head to the conference championship.
Meanwhile, Incarnate Word looked poised to qualify for the FCS playoffs. Ultimately, Iowa State failed to compete in the Big 12 Championship.
While the Cyclones lost to Texas, Incarnate Word earned an at-large bid for the playoffs. Incarnate Word reportedly still agreed to play Iowa State if it was bounced in the first round of the playoffs, but Iowa State announced the addition of Drake to ensure a game.
Now, the Cyclones face the Bulldogs for the first time since 1985 when Drake knocked off Iowa State, 20-17.