STANZ: The night Jack Trice Stadium went from annual annoyance to terrifying atmosphere

Oct 13, 2018; Ames, IA, USA; Students and fans rush the field after the Iowa State Cyclones defeat the West Virginia Mountaineers at Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State beat West Virginia 30-14. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

AMES — First, there was one. Then, there was a handful. Soon, it was an entire section. Not long after, it was the entire stadium.

One by one, Iowa State fans young and old illuminated their cell phone flashlights and held them in the air. They swayed back and forth. They jumped up and down.

They cheered as Chris Francis teed up the football to kick it back to West Virginia following Brock Purdy‘s 32-yard strike to DeShaunte Jones in the end zone to put the Cyclones ahead two scores over No. 6 West Virginia early in the fourth quarter. It happened again after the Mountaineers’ ensuing drive resulted in a safety, sealing the final score of 30-14 and another upset win in Ames.

It was really powerful,” said Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, the same man who talked about his desire to turn Jack Trice Stadium into one of college football’s most hostile environments during his opening press conference the day he was hired in December 2015. “I don’t know if you ever envision what it could be, but you feel what it could be, especially when we came here with that Toledo team (in 2014) and saw the power of the people in Ames, Iowa. It was powerful.”

The power Campbell mentioned has long made Jack Trice Stadium a tough environment for opposing teams, ranked or not. It seemed to always come up while talking heads previewed the next team tasked with entering “The Jack.”

The Big 12’s third largest stadium was always a tough environment, but not necessarily a scary one. Hilton Coliseum is a scary atmosphere. But, Jack Trice? It was more of just an annoyance for the Big 12’s elite. A place where the pesky home team would hang around for a few quarters before ultimately falling to the wayside.

All of this started to change a year ago this month when No. 4 TCU visited Ames and had its undefeated record ripped away to the tune of a 14-7 score. On this chilly October Saturday night, it seems as though we saw our beloved stadium fully complete the transformation Campbell anticipated more than two years ago.

Jack Trice Stadium is no longer just a stadium. It is an atmosphere and an intimidating one at that.

Our crowd was all the difference in the world,” Campbell said. “Really a special crowd in Ames, Iowa. Great to have them. I know I said the day I got the job that sooner or later they’ll be playing important games in Ames, Iowa. This crowd, this fanbase, is the difference and they certainly were tonight for us.”

This was Iowa State’s 13th home win over a ranked opponent in program history. It marks the first time the program has ever won at least one home game against a top-10 team in back-to-back seasons.

Ames, Iowa is no longer the northernmost school in the league known for being a little annoying one or two Saturdays out of the fall. It is now a force to be reckoned with. It is a place where national championship dreams and undefeated seasons can go to die.

“That right there,” said Iowa State defensive end JaQuan Bailey, who finished the game with three tackles and two sacks. “That right there was one fun ass game.”

Honestly, it is awfully tough to think of a better way to describe it. It was a fun ass game. It was a fun ass night. It is a fun ass time to be a Cyclone.

After years of hoping, praying and blind faith, Iowa State may finally be morphing into more than a one-upset-every-couple-of-years wonder. A big part of that is the 61,500 fans that pack Jack Trice Stadium seven weeks a year.

It is not Hilton Magic yet, but The Jack is proving to have more than a few tricks of its own.

I think all anybody’s ever wanted was something that gave them hope,” Campbell said. “I really hope our team is starting to give this fanbase hope that we can get this done here for a long time.”

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.