By Michael Miller
“On the plus side, there were no rioters in sight but on the minus side this was probably because everywhere I looked was on fire.” - Ben Aaronovitch
We’ve had a lot of people ask us why this annual matchup between the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Iowa State Cyclones has been dubbed The Riot Bowl, so I figured now would be as good of a time as any talk about why this game is actually college football’s best rivalry not acknowledged by either university.
We all know West Virginia’s history with catching things on fire and just creating mass chaos following huge wins, some losses and assassinations of certain enemies of the United States. On the flip side of that, Iowa State has - or had, rather - their own dark, rioting passenger in the form of VEISHEA - an abbreviation for the colleges of the university that existed when the event was created; Veterinary Medicine, Engineering, Industrial Science, Home Economics, and Agriculture.
VEISHEA was a week-long celebration held each spring in Ames that began as a wholesome, fun event in the early 1920s. After six decades, the event devolved into pure chaos on a yearly basis, highlighted with riots in 1988, 1992 and 1994, and leading to one VEISHEA visitor murdering another on the front lawn of a fraternity in 1997. A riot in 2004 led to $250,000 worth of damage, causing Iowa State University to suspend the event in 2005. VEISHEA returned in 2006 and went off without incident each year until 2014 when another riot led to then university president Steven Leath announcing VEISHEA would no longer be held.
When West Virginia’s move to the Big 12 was announced in October 2011, it was only natural for the staff of Wide Right & Natty Lite and The Smoking Musket to find the common bond and recognize the potential for a legitimate rivalry between two fanbases that love to drink beer and destroy shit. The Riot Bowl Trophy was created after open submissions were accepted, and was introduced before the 2013 meeting in Morgantown. Iowa State picked up their only win in the series that evening in a 52-44 overtime win. The old Wide Right & Natty Lite staff absconded with the trophy under the cover of darkness, and it didn’t resurface until this week despite the Mountaineers winning the last four meetings between the two schools. In the interim, we commissioned a new Riot Bowl Trophy - shown on the right - for tonight’s showdown.
Iowa State managed to knock off the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater last week, and are being heralded as suddenly having a competent offense. The Cyclones will be looking for their second straight upset win to keep their bowl game hopes alive, and knocking off a No. 6 ranked West Virginia would be a feather in their cap as they head into the back end of the conference schedule.
Unfortunately for the Cyclones, all that talk ends tonight. The undefeated Mountaineers will ride into Jack Trice Stadium - of which we most definitely did not steal the blueprint for back in 1979 - and will escape under the cover of darkness with that spotless record intact and another step closer to a Big 12 Championship Game berth.
Tonight, we #DEFENDTHECAN
West Virginia: 38
Iowa State: 21
Cast of Characters
Pettaway burst onto the scene two years ago against Iowa State, burning his redshirt and producing 130 yards in a season that the Mountaineers had four different players rush for 100 yards in a game. The junior is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and would love a repeat performance in Ames.
The newly engaged defensive lineman who won the hearts of Mountaineers everywhere when he proposed on Homecoming last week can make good on his new engagement by shutting down the Cyclones. As I told Reese on Twitter, “Congrats. AS a married man, that will be the last time you ever do anything right”.
I really wanna meet Brock’s parents because they had another son and named him Chubba. There’s nothing I can write that will top that.
While Hakeem Butler will get all the love, watch out for Jones who is catching 83% of his targets (and he’s been targeted 30 times already). Jones is the Cyclones Mr. Dependable.
Elsewhere in the Big 12
Baylor Bears @ #9 Texas Longhorns
3:30PM ET on ESPN
Listen, the rest of the Big 12 slate today is not great. Oklahoma is off this week so we don’t get to see them break in that new defensive coordinator, and the other good conference matchup was played on Thursday night - which, by the way, made our win over Texas Tech look even better. Go Raiders.
I guess you should maybe pay some attention to this game to see if Texas is our legitimate competition for the Big 12 crown, or if they’ve just been blessed with a streak of good luck. Will the Bears actually do something here? Probably not, but a cover is as good as a win in this one.
What to Wear
Presented by 1863 Dry Goods Co
By The Smoking Musket Staff
Every week, the Smoking Musket staff will test out our sure to be less-than-stellar gambling skills, as we make picks in four categories: straight-up, against the spread, over/under, and a special prop bet to be determined each week.
We will each start with $500 in Musket Money™, and each bet will be worth $100.
Best Case/Worst Case
The sun sets at 6:36 in Ames on Saturday and that is when the Mountaineers rise. Tired of poor performances the last two weeks, the team begins to play like they know they have a case to make. The Cyclones defense struggles against the pass and the Mountaineers love to exploit it. There is no Rutgers Factor this time as the Mountaineers bounce back with 14+ point win that looks better as the season goes on.
Weird shit happens in Ames at night and the Mountaineers are supposed to know that. The crowd at Jack Trice Stadium is pumped for a night game and the elusiveness of freshman quarterback Brock Purdy keeps the Mountaineers off balance while the Cyclones defense makes the offense continually move the ball in methodical small chunks. The Mountaineers lose the game and their shot at the college football playoffs.