On Sunday afternoon, Iowa State was picked to play No. 14 Notre Dame in the 2019 Camping World Bowl. This marks the third straight bowl game for the Cyclones and the first appearance for Iowa State in the Camping World.
Facing ranked opponents becoming sign of program success
When the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) was in effect from 1998 to 2013, Iowa State only faced one ranked opponent in the eight bowl games it went to from 2000 to 2012.
The lone ranked opponent was in the 2005 Houston Bowl against No. 14 TCU — when the Frogs were in the Mountain West Conference.
Iowa State didn't make a bowl game for five more seasons but returned to a bowl destination in 2017 and immediately played a ranked opponent.
No. 20 Memphis welcomed the Cyclones to Memphis, Tennessee, and ended up falling to the Cyclones 21-20.
The very next season, Iowa State played No. 13 Washington State in the 2018 Alamo Bowl.
And now, for a third straight season, Iowa State will play in not only its third-straight bowl game, but its third straight game against a ranked opponent in No. 14 Notre Dame.
A historic opponent
The Cyclones will be in a position to play in a game with a lot of firsts on Dec. 28.
It will be the first time Iowa State plays in the Camping World Bowl and the first time Iowa State plays Notre Dame.
The latter is what is generating the most excitement in the walls of the football team, starting at the top with Athletic Director Jamie Pollard.
Pollard expressed excitement for Iowa State's opportunity to face off against a football powerhouse like the Fighting Irish for the very first time.
"You're playing Notre Dame; it may arguably be the most watched football game Iowa State has ever played in given their national reach," Pollard said. "We can't underestimate that or downplay that — I mean we are playing one of the [most] storied programs ever in the history of college football and that's another wonderful opportunity for our brand."
#Cyclones have never played Notre Dame, and have never played in the Camping World Bowl in any of its previous iterations. A few firsts coming Dec. 28— noah (@noahrohlfing) December 8, 2019
Head coach Matt Campbell said he was grateful that playing in the Big 12 gives Iowa State a chance to face against a historic program like Notre Dame.
Campbell said this current team has continued to show what they can become and national attention is growing and growing.
"This is a program that's got one of the greatest legacies in college football," Campbell said.
Campbell said the matchup with the Irish shows the growth of the program and where the Cyclones hope to get to. Campbell said he has been too busy with recruiting to learn much about the Irish but knows Notre Dame's quarterback, coach and defense will present a great challenge.
Brock Purdy shares the excitement his head coach expressed about the opportunity to play the Fighting Irish.
Purdy said he grew up watching the Irish play and said that it will be good to return to the field and rebound from a bitter end to the regular season.
"To play against such a rich history of a program like Notre Dame is pretty special," Purdy said.
Purdy has been to Florida before, as his dad is from Florida, making the game against Notre Dame another spot for Purdy to shine in front of his friends and family.
As soon as the announcement went public online, Purdy said his family and friends reached out for tickets, a task Purdy said his mom is leading the charge on.
Back to football
After losing 27-17 to Kansas State to end their regular season, the Cyclones will now return to the practice field for the first time this coming Friday.
Campbell said players have not touched a football or the field since the loss to the Wildcats and sensed that the break was exactly what the young group needed.
The bowl game will provide another chance for the Cyclones to give young freshmen like Breece Hall and Tayvonn Kyle game experience against a top-level opponent.
Getting healthy physically and mentally will be one of positives of the three-week break for Campbell and his players.