Before Iowa State's surprising 24-13 loss to Northern Iowa, it appeared that the battle for the title of state's best would run through Ames in the third week of the season.
But after the Cyclones (0-2) were overcome for the second-consecutive week at Jack Trice Stadium, this year's rendition of the annual Cy-Hawk showdown won't decide the king of Iowa college football.
Rather, it will provide the Hawkeyes (2-0) a much-needed measuring stick after an almost flawless 35-0 victory over Syracuse.
"Any time we play those guys, we expect a battle," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "It's been that way for eight years now that I've been involved since I've been back. We expect that, and our focus will be the same this week as any other week.
"We'll work on us getting better and then also trying to match up against an opponent. That will be the task at hand."
And while that task appears easier to accomplish given Iowa State's winless record, recent history shows you can throw out the records when it comes to the war for in-state supremacy.
Although the Hawkeyes have won three of the last four meetings against ISU, including last season's 27-17 win at Kinnick Stadium, the matchup's margin of victory hasn't been greater than 20 points since 1997.
In that same span, six of the contests were decided by 10 points or fewer, with Iowa State holding a 6-4 advantage in the last 10 meetings.
While trying to ride the momentum of last season's triumph in Iowa City, sophomore quarterback Jake Christensen knows another win over the Cyclones won't come easily.
"I've been thinking about Iowa State already; it is a huge game for us," he said following Iowa's win on Sept. 8. "Last time we went up there, they gave it to us pretty good.
"The focus has shifted to that already."
Referring to Iowa's last trip to Ames in 2005, in which the Cyclones handed the Hawkeyes a deflating 23-3 defeat, Christensen hopes this time around is different - at least at his position.
After throwing a careless second-quarter interception two years ago, then-junior Hawkeye quarterback Drew Tate tried to tackle Cyclone cornerback Steve Parris and was forced to leave a game with a concussion.
Only a sophomore when Jason Manson stepped in for Tate in the 2005 loss, now-senior tailback Damian Sims believes a balanced Hawkeye offense can find success against a similar defense to that Iowa faced in Syracuse.
"Iowa State is going to come in and play the same kind of defense, and there will be a lot of points put up when we have a throwing game," he said.
If Christensen's 278-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Orange is any indication of what's to come on Saturday, the Cyclone defense could be in for a long afternoon in Ames.
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