MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Iowa State is an unlikely candidate for a grudge game.
Teams have spent more time beating the Cyclones than getting mad at them over the course of the past century-plus as the program remains in pursuit of its first conference championship since 1912.
But for West Virginia players, this one is personal thanks to the ending of last year’s game.
Iowa State fans stormed the field at Jack Trice Stadium following the Cyclones’ 30-14 win upset over the then-No. 6 Mountaineers. The Big 12 fined Iowa State $25,000 for the incident, but West Virginia defensive end Reese Donahue is still seeking his pound of flesh.
“One thing’s for sure – if you’re not ready to play this game after what happened last year, you’re not going to be ready to play any game,” Donahue said. “It’s a little bit of a personal agenda not just because of the fact we lost, but because of how things were handled in the postgame. For me this game means a whole lot, and I know for everybody that was there last year it means a lot as well.”
The Mountaineers needed help from security to get back to their locker room, and based on their interactions with Iowa State fans it may be a minor miracle that no one was punched out – or worse – during that chaos.
“Fans running behind me screaming, guys bumping into you and pushing you. Some people decided to say some ugly things to you,” Donahue said. “Some people come up and shake your hand and say ‘great game.’ It just depends on the people.”
Donahue said he was near midfield when he felt someone yank him from behind. Fortunately, it was a friendly hand.
“It’s one of our guys just trying to get people to the locker room,” Donahue said. “We’ve got 100-plus guys out there with players and coaches and staff included. It’s hard to get back there with thousands rushing the field. It was tough.”
Then-WVU coach Dana Holgorsen seethed over how unprepared Iowa State’s game operations staff seemed for the possibility of fans rushing the field.
“It was very unprofessional,” he said two days after the game. “Our job is to keep student-athletes in a safe place. When you’ve got thousands of people coming at you, it’s not easy. We didn’t have time to get them off the field. That’s not good.”
Donahue bears no ill-will towards the Cyclones themselves. He doesn’t consider Iowa State to be a dirty team by any measure. He would sure like to beat them, though.
“They’re always courteous to us. It’s not a personal hate for their team,” Donahue said. “It’s just motivation for me, because I can’t stand how things turned out last year.”