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Liberty Bowl Pep Rally. Pictured left to right: Molly Skripsky, Dan Knipfel, Steph McWilliams, Josh Knipfel, Suzy Knipfel, Joel McWilliams, Dennis Knipfel

“Do we love game day!” said Suzy Knipfel of Hampton, Iowa, proud mom of Josh Knipfel, who is starting right guard for the Iowa State University (ISU) Cyclone football team.

What could be better than game day… How about bowl game day?

“Needless to say, Josh was thrilled to play in a bowl game during his first season as a Cyclone!” says Suzy. “The team left on Christmas Day [2017] and spent five days in Memphis before the game. It was jam-packed with so many activities, as well as practices and press conferences. His favorite non-football activities were going to the Civil Rights museum and touring St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Both, he said, were humbling experiences. Memphis was one of the schools he had visited as a possible college, so it was ironic he played a game there. We got to spend some time with him walking around Beale Street, which was packed with so many Cyclone fans! He will never forget that experience.”

Head coach Matt Campbell led ISU to a 21-20 win over Memphis in the 2017 Liberty Bowl.

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Photo credit to Jeremy Davis.

Cyclone Nation is hoping to keep its winning streak going and when the ISU football team makes its consecutive bowl appearance. The week of Christmas thousands of Iowans headed to San Antonio and the River Walk for the 2018 Valero Alamo Bowl. Number 25 ISU will battle #12 Washington State on Friday, Dec. 28, in the Valero Alamo Bowl. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.

All eyes will be on ISU’s true freshman quarterback Brock Purdy, who had his breakout game on the road against Oklahoma State. Purdy, whom ESPN named Big 12 True Freshman of the Year, has led ISU to victory in 7 of their last 8 games during which they defeated two ranked teams. Averaging 241.9 yards passing and with 66.3 percent of his passes completed, Purdy’s passing efficiency ranks sixth nationally. His 16 TD passes ranks fifth on ISU’s season list.

Another player to watch is wide receiver Hakeem Butler, who leads the nation in yards per reception at 22.1. Butler leads the team in receptions, receiving yards and TD catches. He also is ISU’s single-season school-record holder in receiving yards at 1,126.

Forever True

Cyclone Jr. Club Freshman Year. Pictured from left to right: Aidan Carr, Spencer Clark, Joe Schull, Josh Knipfel

Be sure to watch for running back David Montgomery, who could be leaving the Cyclones at the end of this season for the NFL. Montgomery ranks third in the Big 12 and 24th nationally in rushing at 99.3 yards per game. He ranks 7th in school history in career rushing yards and 9th in career rushing TDs.

“Josh has a lot of respect for David [Montgomery] on and off the field,” says Suzy. “As an athlete, he is the epitome of what a teammate should be. Josh has mentioned numerous times how David is very appreciative of his blockers and never fails to give credit to them. Many times, Josh has hoisted David up in the air after a touchdown.”

One of the most memorable moments between Montgomery and Knipfel happened this fall during the ISU-Baylor game. Early in the third quarter Butler was blocking for a Montgomery rush. During that run, Baylor defensive back Blake Lynch held Butler after the block. A pushing contest started and soon escalated into a brawl.

“I was just trying to make sure David didn’t get hurt or anything,” Knipfel said in a Nov. 10, 2018, The Gazette article. “When stuff like that happens, that’s when dumb injuries happen. I didn’t want David to get hurt or anything like that. I was trying to break it up and move onto the next play.” Knipfel tried to break up the fight and was ejected. He was sent to the locker room until referees in the booth buzzed down, bringing back Knipfel and ejecting Montgomery. It’s a moment that fans will always remember. (Click here to watch a video of Knipfel’s return.)12.28 Bowl Game Radio Graphic

“I loved the standing ovation when [Knipfel] came back on,” Butler said. “It was like a wrestler coming into a Royal Rumble.”

Let’s get ready to rumble! Good luck tonight to the ISU Cyclones. Remember to tune into the post-game Latham Locker Room Report for exclusive interviews with players and coaches.

In honor of the Alamo Bowl game, we’ve compiled a list of tailgating and Game Day recipes that promote Iowa products, including Black Bean and Sweet Corn Guacamole Dip with a hint of Texas flavor:

Dried Beef & Sour Cream Dip

Recipe from the kitchen of Suzy Knipfel.

Alamo picture photo credit to Jeremy Davis.

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Black Bean and Sweet Corn Guacamole Dip

Recipe from Kristin Porter, Iowa Girl Eats

Prep time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 vine-ripened tomato, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup crumbled Cotija cheese (could use feta or shredded Monterey Jack)

Ingredients for the black bean dip

  • 1 can (15 ounces) seasoned black beans or 1 regular black beans, drained and rinsed (you can substitute with black soybeans)
  • ¼ cup chopped onion or shallot
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper

Ingredients for the sweet corn guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 1 garlic clove, microplaned or minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup frozen sweet corn, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Combine ingredients for the black bean dip in a food processor the process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Smooth into the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan and place into the refrigerator while making Sweet Corn Guacamole.

Add avocados, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper to a large bowl then mash until smooth. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Fold in thawed sweet corn and cilantro then smooth on top of the black bean dip. Sprinkle on chopped tomatoes and crumbled Cotija cheese and serve with tortilla chips and crudite.

Nutrition per serving: 128 Calories, 7g Total Fat, 6mg Cholesterol, 303mg Sodium, 15g Carbohydrate, 5.5g Fiber, 5g Protein