Coach Matt Campbell will soon get to experience another first in his head coaching career at Iowa State.
His first Homecoming game.
Iowa State will host Kansas State at 11 a.m. Saturday for its Homecoming game. Even though the Cyclones are 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the Big 12 this season, the Homecoming game presents an opportunity for them to get back on track, especially coming off of a bye week.
"I think one of the great things about Iowa State is the tradition, and here, that means something," Campbell said. "I appreciate that, and that's what makes this place special."
Iowa State has a 4-2 record over the past six seasons in the Homecoming game. Along with that winning record, the Cyclones are seeking a third straight Homecoming win after a 24-0 victory against Texas last season and another win against Toledo, which was coached by Campbell, two seasons ago.
Linebacker Kane Seeley thinks the success is built off of the buzz of the Homecoming atmosphere. Before Saturday's game, Homecoming Week consists of activities like food on campus, sports tournaments and a sea of cardinal and gold around campus.
"It's amazing how many students wear Iowa State gear throughout Homecoming Week, especially on Friday," Seeley said. "I think seeing all those fans throughout the week on campus makes the players more excited about this particular game."
Wide receiver Allen Lazard looks at Homecoming as a game that many fans, especially students, circle on their calendars because that's the big one to win throughout a season. Lazard also circles it on his calendar, but has the mentality of playing any other football game.
He appreciates the excitement from the fans, but he also enjoys seeing the alumni at the game.
"It shows how much appreciation our alumni have for Iowa State," Lazard said. "The players enjoy talking to them before and after the game to get more insight on the traditions of Iowa State football from the past."
Some of the players on the team don't really look at the Homecoming game as a more important game than other Big 12 matchups. One player in particular is defensive lineman Mitchell Meyers.
Meyers enjoys seeing the excitement from the fans, but he believes that excitement is the same no matter what the implications are for any game. His main objective is always the same: win every week.
Campbell is looking forward to seeing the former players because many of them want to be a part of the Homecoming game. That's why Campbell thinks Iowa State is successful in Homecoming games because not only do the players have their fan base, but they have former players rooting them on too.
"We were able to taste that a little bit at the Hall of Fame game earlier this season," Campbell said. "Those are the things that make it special to play college football."
Even though it's Homecoming, Campbell still understands the challenge ahead with Kansas State. He wants to soak up every moment of this Homecoming game, but he also wants to give what the the fans want, a win.
Lazard and Seeley have attended Iowa State for at least three years and have experienced at least three Homecoming games. They've been able to reflect on the past couple seasons and the wins against Texas and Toledo. Now, the focus is on Kansas State and making it three straight.
"The mission this week is to beat Kansas State and that's it," Lazard said. "If that means we'll win three straight Homecoming games, that's great. Hopefully, we can make our fans proud this Homecoming."