If you’ve checked the weather forecast for Saturday, you might want to bring a warm jacket to the Iowa State-Kansas football game. Reports have the high temperature at just 24 degrees, and for a game beginning at 7 p.m., the temperatures could be even lower at kickoff.
Our research indicates that the coldest game in Jack Trice Stadium history (at kickoff) was on Nov. 23, 1991. Iowa State was playing No. 15 Colorado in the final game of the season and the temperature at kickoff was a frigid 17 degrees.
It was certainly cold that day, but high winds and heavy, falling snow made the game even more memorable. A blizzard streaked through Central Iowa in the morning and travel was ill-advised. Officials from both universities had to make the decision whether the game should be played.
“We weren’t even sure if we were going to be able to play the game,” said Tom Kroeschell, Director of Programming for Cyclones.tv and ISU’s Sports Information Director at the time. “Colorado was staying in Des Moines and had to get to Ames, and you couldn’t even travel around Ames because of the weather.”
“Once the decision was made to play, school officials decided if you made it to the stadium, you got in for free,” Kroeschell added. “And I would say there were about 2,500 people that made it there and a good 1,000 of them were under the age of 15. The kids just came for a great time and spent most of their day sliding down the hillsides in the snow.”
The die-hard fans who showed up that day witnessed Iowa State jumping out to an early 7-0 lead behind a Jim Knott 12-yard TD run. Knott had a fantastic day, rushing for 103 yards. Passing was almost non-existent. ISU attempted 15 passes and Colorado had just eight.
As the game went on, finding the yardage markers on the then-artificial turf of Jack Trice Stadium became virtually impossible. Wind gusts up to 40 mph also added more problems to the on-field conditions.
“The wind, especially in the first half, it was tremendous,” Kroeschell said. “It caused many problems. From the press box you couldn’t tell what yard line you were on because the snow was blowing into the seams of the turf. The yard lines were pretty obscured from the snow, so we had to have one of our students walk with the chain gain and relay where the ball was spotted back up to the press box from a walkie-talkie.”
Take a quick look of some video clips from the game, and you can see what Kroeschell was talking about.
Iowa State quarterback and senior captain Chris Pedersen won’t forget the experience of that day.
“You have to remember, we had astroturf then,” Pedersen said. “By the end of the season it got very faded. I remember that the lines by the end of the year were starting to fade anyway. Then you throw in some frozen rain and snow blowing across the field and you could barely make out where the yard markers were.”
Players had to find ways to keep warm. Heated benches hadn’t been invented yet. ISU’s All-Big Eight placekicker Ty Stewart came up with his own plan.
“I remember grabbing a pair of moon boots for the game,” Stewart said. “They had to be big enough so I could put them over my shoes and I wore them until I had to go out and kick. If I thought I was going to have to go kick, I would take them off and quickly run over to the jet warmers before I got on the field.”
Stewart also gave a giant salute to the fans at the game.
“It was by far the worst conditions in a sporting event I have ever been at and I give credit to the fans that made it out there that day,” Stewart said. “The funniest memory was a fan in the Southeast corner of the stadium. Most of the snow had drifted over there and he had burrowed a hole in the snow drift by himself just to keep out of the wind.”
Colorado’s Sean Brown scored a third-quarter TD on an 8-yard catch from Darian Hagan to move the Buffaloes ahead, 17-14. It proved to be the winning points, as both teams failed to score in the fourth quarter.
Iowa State already broke a Jack Trice Stadium record this season for extreme temperatures. In its home-opener vs. UNI, the thermometer topped out at 92 degrees at kickoff, breaking the old mark for warmest game in Jack Trice Stadium history. Let’s all hope we can keep the 1991 ISU-CU game securely in the record book on the other end.
Cyclones.tv subscribers can watch the full game at this link: http://www.cyclones.com/mediaPortal/player.dbml?id=3107406&db_oem_id=10700