West Virginia head coach Neal Brown has made several trips to Iowa State’s Jack Trice Stadium during his near 20-year tenure with multiple teams.
Iowa State is one of many colleges across the United States that have a stadium that opposing coaches don’t look forward to playing in, as Brown addressed his feelings during Tuesday’s news conference.
“We’re traveling to Ames, (Iowa), which is one of the toughest venues in the conference to play,” Brown said. “If you have been there, you understand that. If you haven’t, it’s one of those passionate fan bases. They’re right on top of you.”
At Jack Trice Stadium, the Cyclones’ student section sits right behind the opposing team’s bench.
Brown acknowledged this was one of the biggest factors in the atmosphere of the games, which he and the Mountaineers also experienced in 2020, Brown’s second season with the team.
“I don’t think every place is a tough place,” Brown said. “The thing Ames does a really good job of is their students are there and they’re vocal. The fans always come regardless of what their record is. The acoustics of the stadium are similar to ours.
“I thought Ames was tough when I was a coordinator in ‘10, ‘11 and ‘12, and when I played there twice.”
Brown served as the offensive coordinator at Texas Tech from 2010 to 2012. He and the Red Raiders split two matchups in Ames, dropping the first 52-38 before claiming a 24-13 win in the second contest.
At West Virginia, Brown is 1-2 against Iowa State, which includes a 42-6 loss in the teams’ only matchup in Ames in 2020.
Brown said the Mountaineers’ start against the Cyclones will be a key piece in the outcome, as West Virginia has won just one of four games on the road this season. This is backed by slow starts against Texas and Texas Tech, two of the defeats. The loss to the Red Raiders was tied for the largest deficit that West Virginia endured under Brown.
The Mountaineers managed to score just once, a field goal, in their first five drives versus Texas Tech. Against Texas, West Virginia punted four times and turned the ball over on downs with their first five possessions.
Brown said he and the staff will be switching up the Mountaineers’ travel plans in an attempt to change the stigma.
“Do I believe that’s why we started slow? Absolutely not,” Brown said. “But, when it hasn’t worked, you change. We started good versus Virginia Tech, and not bad versus Pitt. We flew to Virginia Tech and bused to Pitt. I laughed and said we’re gonna bus to Ames instead of fly.
“We’re gonna switch up some things for the itinerary on Friday and Saturday. We have to start fast and keep the crowd out of it.”
Both West Virginia and Iowa State enter with a 3-5 record.
To reach the .500 mark and qualify for a bowl game, the Mountaineers, who have lost two in a row, will need to win three of their final four contests.
The Cyclones have dropped five consecutive games by an average of just 5.6 points. Iowa State fell to Kansas State by one point and dropped matchups to Kansas and Texas, both by three.
“Both teams come into this game needing a win by any means necessary,” Brown said. “There’s been several close losses on both sides. We have to go on the road and compete against a very tough defense.”