Our Iowa Heritage: The Cy-Hawk Game – Iowa’s Super Bowl.

Ah yes. The Cy-Hawk Game. The Iowa Hawkeyes vs. the Iowa State Cyclones.

The 1977 Iowa-ISU football game in Iowa City renewed the series after a 43-year break.

Today, this football game between two of Iowa’s three major universities has become a classic – with this year’s matchup (2021) bringing together two football teams both ranked in America’s top ten. On Iowa! Go Hawks! (BTW – The Hawks won this one – 27-17!) :0)

Looking back, the very first Iowa-Iowa State football game dates to 1894, when Iowa State (then known as Iowa Agricultural College) beat Iowa 16-8 in Iowa City. The Cyclones won the first three meetings before the Hawkeyes went on a five-game winning streak from 1899-1905. 

In 1915 a few fans watched the Iowa-Iowa State (Ames) game from the telephone poles outside Iowa Field!

As you can see from the chart below, the series was rather sporadic between 1920 and 1934, and completely dropped from both school’s schedules for 43 years, until the two teams met once again in Iowa City, renewing the series in 1977.

Oct. 20, 1934Iowa State, 31-6Ames, IA
Nov. 4, 1933Iowa, 27-7Iowa City, IA
Nov. 20, 1920Iowa, 14-10Ames, IA
Nov. 22, 1919Iowa, 10-0Iowa City, IA
Nov. 16, 1918Iowa, 21-0Iowa City, IA
Nov. 24, 1917Iowa, 6-3Iowa City, IA
Nov. 18, 1916Iowa, 19-16Ames, IA
Nov. 13, 1915Iowa State, 16-0Iowa City, IA
Nov. 14, 1914Iowa, 26-6Ames, IA
Nov. 15, 1913Iowa, 45-7Iowa City, IA
Nov. 16, 1912Iowa, 20-7Ames, IA
Nov. 18, 1911Iowa, 9-0Iowa City, IA
Nov. 5, 1910Iowa State, 2-0Ames, IA
Nov. 13, 1909Iowa, 16-0Iowa City, IA
Nov. 23, 1907Iowa State, 20-14Ames, IA
Nov. 24, 1906Iowa State, 2-0Iowa City, IA
Nov. 24, 1905Iowa, 8-0Ames, IA
Oct. 29, 1904Iowa, 10-6Iowa City, IA
Nov. 1, 1902Iowa, 12-6Iowa City, IA
Oct. 18, 1901Iowa, 6-0Iowa City, IA
Oct. 27, 1899Iowa, 5-0Iowa City, IA
Nov. 5, 1897Iowa State, 6-0Iowa City, IA
Oct. 26, 1895Iowa State, 24-0Iowa City, IA
Oct. 1, 1894Iowa State, 16-8Iowa City, IA

Allow me here to tell you a great story from these earliest days of the Cy-Hawk Game…

November 1933 – The Very First Cy-Hawk Trophy.

In an article appearing Friday, November 3, 1933 (see below) in the Ames Daily Tribune-Times, a small bell that once hung in the Mechanics Academy (SUI’s first academic building) had just resurfaced in time to become the new traveling trophy for the winner of the Iowa/Iowa State football game.

According to the report of Arthur A. Smith, SUI’s acting superintendent of grounds and buildings in 1933 (also an engineering student at Iowa in 1913), the bell, made in 1844, was used during the early years (1897-1913) of Iowa Field as The Victory Bell at Iowa football games! Read more about this bell here.

(P-0120) Circa 1915: Here’s a very rare postcard picturing the Iowa football team playing in Iowa Field.

Flashback to November 15, 1913 – Iowa Field – Iowa City.

Apparently, on November 15, 1913, our arch-rival Cyclones came to town and pulled a fast one after suffering a devastating 45-7 loss to the Hawkeyes…

According to this 1933 Ames Tribune article, ISU players and fans, frustrated with their 45-7 loss to the Hawkeyes in Iowa Field (1913), absconded with The Victory Bell, carrying it out of the stadium as the large Iowa crowd was celebrating on the field. Apparently, the ISU gang was discrete enough (and strong enough) to tote the 125-pound bell up the hill (past Old Capitol), ducking quickly into the SUI Student Union (Unity Hall), where they hauled their booty up the stairs, hiding it away in the building’s unused belfry!

1913 – Unity Hall Belfry – A Great Hiding Place.

Unity Hall, facing Old Capitol on N. Clinton Street, served as the Iowa Student Union from 1911-1913. Click here to read more about Unity Hall – Iowa’s first student union.

According to the article, The Victory Bell was finally re-discovered in the fall of 1933, when Unity Hall was razed, and now (November 1933), the bell was being brought back into use as the new traveling trophy for the winner of the 1933 Iowa/ISU football game. BTW – Iowa won that game in Iowa City, 27-7, keeping our little bell at home.

The Victory Bell – 1934 to Today…

Conceived and created as a traveling trophy by the Greater Des Moines Athletic Club, the Cy-Hawk trophy was first presented to the 1977 winner by Iowa Governor Robert D. Ray when the Iowa/ISU series was finally renewed. Obviously, after 43 years, The Victory Bell had been long forgotten.

Interestingly, because of rising tensions between the two schools, the Hawkeyes played only one more game (before taking a 43-year hiatus) against the Cyclones in Ames in 1934. The Hawks lost that game 31-6, but apparently The Victory Bell didn’t change hands, because according to bell hobbyist, Del Gilmore, our little bell, though hidden away for about a decade, reappeared at Iowa sporting events in the mid 1940’s, following WWII. A December 1945 edition of the SUI News Bulletin carried a story headlined: “Victory Bell Becomes New University of Iowa Tradition.”

Iowa’s Victory Bell – today – safely stored at Old Capitol in Iowa City! Click here to read more about our little SUI bell.

With the opening of the UI sports museum (2003), our little bell was, once again, re-discovered and put on display there, until the good folks at the Old Capitol Museum decided to bring our little friend back to the east side of the Iowa River, finding a new secure home in Old Stone Capitol, much closer now to those earlier locations it once proudly served.

Enjoy the highlights of the 1977 Cy-Hawk classic in Iowa City.

So now, you know the ‘rest of the story’ about the very first Cy-Hawk trophy!

On Iowa! Go Hawks!


Iowa vs. Iowa State football: All-time series history, scores, notable games, Brenden Welper, NCAA.com, September 10, 2021

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