No way. According to an Iowa newspaper poll, 500,000 fans would have purchased tickets to last Saturday's game if they had been available. That's nearly 20% of the state's population. The game was being televised regionally, the Hawkeyes' first such appearance since 1971. Both teams had won their openers and both had lost their starting quarterbacks. In fact, Iowa had lost two, forcing Coach Bob Commings to use a freshman against Northwestern. The freshman, Bob Commings Jr., threw two touchdown passes in a 24-0 win. Commings Sr. promptly named Commings Jr. as his starting quarterback for the big game. In turn, Iowa State Coach Earle Bruce announced he was reporting Commings to the NCAA. "His quarterback has been living with him," Bruce said. "That's a recruiting violation."
By Friday every motel room as far away as Cedar Rapids, 25 miles north of Iowa City, was booked. Restaurants were overflowing. In the bar of one of them taped highlights of the Northwestern victory were being shown. The newspapers fed readers a torrent of trivia: lineups, fight songs, what the two coaches were doing during the last Iowa-Iowa State game (both were infants) and interviews with families who had children at both schools (State Athletic Director Lou McCullough had two sons attending Iowa). There were scare stories: young Bobby Commings was hurt in practice. Untrue. Iowa Placekicker Scott Schilling severed his Achilles tendon when a golf cart tipped over on him. True, and it nearly cost Iowa the ball game.
During one 2�-minute burst in the first quarter there was as much excitement as the pregame hoopla promised. Both teams sounded each other out, gained nothing noteworthy and punted. Twice apiece. But the third time Iowa punted, Tom Buck fielded the ball on his 37, survived an almost instantaneous hit, found his way to the right sideline and his blockers and went the distance. Extra point good, 7-0 State.
But on the second play following the kickoff, Commings handed off to Tailback Dennis Mosley, who bolted 77 yards to a touchdown. But not the tying TD. Punter Dave Holsclaw, placekicking because of Schilling's injury, missed the extra point. State held on to its lead, 7-6.
Not for long. When State fumbled following the kickoff, Iowa recovered and scored on two smashes by Jon Lazar, the second covering 10 yards. Trying for two points, Iowa failed and led 12-7.
That, for all intents, was the game. State added a field goal early in the second quarter, and then both teams engaged in a punting duel—there were 21 in all. Iowa made only one first down in the second half, but State wasn't going anywhere, either. The Cyclones did get one last chance late in the game when they took over just inside mid-field and made two first downs to make it first and 10 on the Iowa 27. But three running plays gained nothing, and the field-goal attempt was short.
After the game was over, walking arm in arm through the huge milling crowd were two students, one from Iowa, the other from Iowa State. Arm in arm because the State guy had a cardboard box over his head and couldn't see. A losing bet. "Step right up and see a deflated Cyclone fan," the Iowa student kept shouting. Under the box, the State student seemed to be taking it pretty well. Maybe Iowans aren't so by-damn stubborn after all.