Kinnick atmosphere at night excites Iowa State players
AMES, Iowa — Allen Lazard is an Iowa State legacy, the son of a former Cyclones co-captain and one of the state’s most targeted recruits three years ago.
Lazard, a junior wide receiver, long was committed to Iowa State. But as the 2014 signing day approached, that didn’t stop Iowa coaches from making one last push at Lazard. Former ISU coach Paul Rhoads took exception and lit into the Hawkeyes at a news conference after Lazard sent in his paperwork.
But growing up in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale, Lazard had a healthy respect for both programs. He attended an Iowa-Iowa State game at Kinnick Stadium as a kid and then participated at Kinnick two years ago. This week’s rivalry edition features a true night kickoff (6:30 CT) for the first time in Iowa City. That’s something that excites Lazard.
“I expect the best from the fans,” Lazard said. “Kinnick’s an unbelievable place. I’ve been there as a fan, and I played there two years ago. Both experiences I’ve had there have been unbelievable, and the fans always have great energy throughout the entire game.
“The fact that it’s a night game is something special. Not many people can say they’ve been to a night game — let alone play — at Kinnick at night. It will be all eyes and ears. I’m just going to enjoy the process on Saturday.”
Kinnick Stadium rarely staged night football before 2006. Saturday’s game is only the 13th in the 87-year-old stadium’s history. The latest Iowa and Iowa State have kicked off at Kinnick was at 5 p.m. in 2002.
Along with the sold-out crowd and black-and-gold striped sections, the late start surely will enhance a usually raucous atmosphere. Playboy magazine voted the University of Iowa either No. 1 or No. 2 party campus every year from 2012 through 2015, according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette. This year, Iowa slipped to sixth. On a day where as many as 25,000 fans travel to Iowa City just to socialize and not enter the gates, let alone those who do, Lazard and his teammates expect an unparalleled environment.
“It’s going to be a long day of people partying,” said Iowa State quarterback Joel Lanning, an Ankeny, Iowa, native. “That’s the one thing about Kinnick. Their fans are like right on top of you on the sideline. Two years ago there were some things said from fans along the sideline, but that’s just the way it is and that’s part of the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens. You can’t really focus on it anyway.”
“I’m definitely expecting to hear some intoxicated thoughts on Saturday night,” Lazard said. “But that’s another thing that makes Iowa great.”
Another element is Iowa’s notoriously tight sidelines. Only 7 yards separates the Kinnick stands from the field.
“It’s kind of hard to hear anyways,” Lanning said. “Where we’re standing, we probably have to be yelling at each other to hear each other think at that place. So it’s pretty loud there. I’m expecting a pretty crazy fan base.”
“I’ve never seen it at nighttime, but I know that place is wild,” Iowa State safety Kamari Cotton-Moya said. “It’s a crazy territory. I’m excited to play it.”