Ames, Iowa — The marketing slogan Iowa State has built around its football team is "Not just another season."
And because the Cyclones are enjoying a season unlike any other in decades, that ad campaign appears to be dead on.
Not only is ISU off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 1980, but when No. 2 Nebraska visits today, both teams will be undefeated, which hasn't happened in 35 years.
"It's the game with the most meaning since I've been here," said ISU coach Dan McCarney, who is in his sixth season.
Seasons without a loss aren't new to the Cornhuskers, but they're rare in Ames, which is why the Cyclones 17-point underdogs are claiming this game as one of the program's biggest ever.
"We're 4-0 and we're playing one of the best teams in the country. From that point of perspective, it may be the biggest game of my life," senior quarterback Sage Rosenfels said.
McCarney made sure to issue warnings that this game is only one of 11 on the schedule, and there's two more months of football left to play including six more games in the Big 12.
"This is not the end of the season if we're not able to pull off one of the greatest upsets in college football this year," he said.
ISU's history against Nebraska has been terrible. The Cornhuskers own the series with a record of 77-15-3 and have won seven straight games. Since the Cyclones' 19-10 victory 1992, Nebraska's average margin of victory is more than 40 points.
"We want to try to turn this game into a good matchup instead of a complete mismatch, which is what it's been since I've been here," McCarney said. "It's never been a four-quarter game, or a three-quarter game. Many of them have been over at halftime.
"We've let it get out of control, out of hand, and we've been completely dominated in the games we've played against Nebraska. We're not the only one that happens to, but it sure has happened to us and it hasn't been a whole lot of fun."
The Cyclones dismissed the notion that Nebraska's winning tradition would affect their play.
"We don't have to beat everything about them," Rosenfels said. "We just have to beat them for 60 minutes."