Why Kansas State traded a home football game against Iowa State for a trip to Ireland

Kansas State and Iowa State have been playing football against each other since 1917, and over the past century they have built one of the best rivalries in the Big 12. Fans on both sides call it Farmageddon in a nod to their roots as agricultural schools and the always competitive nature of their games.

The last time they played it was an instant classic, with the Cyclones winning 42-35 in the middle of a blizzard at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

This is a rivalry that has seen almost everything. But something new is on the way.

Both teams will experience something different when they leave the country and open the 2025 season against each other during a Week 0 game in Ireland.

How did such a radical change get added to one of the oldest rivalries in college football? Good question. Even K-State athletic director Gene Taylor is a little surprised it’s actually happening. When one of the main promoters for the game, John Anthony, first approached him about this idea, Taylor was skeptical.

“He has always asked me, would we ever consider taking K-State over there,” Taylor said in an interview with The Eagle. “I just never really thought it would work out as a nonconference game for us. Then he approached me four or five months ago and said, “Hey, what do you think about playing Iowa State?’ Again, I was like, I don’t know. That’s a Big 12 game and it’s our home game. I threw up a lot of red flags.”

Still, Taylor has always been a big fan of the annual college football game that is played in Ireland. He experienced it first hand when he worked at Navy and the Midshipmen played Notre Dame overseas in 1996. The trip gave him lasting memories.

So he mentioned the possibility to K-State football coach Chris Klieman. His response would ultimately determine whether the Wildcats would try to make the game happen.

Klieman was open to the idea, so he made a few calls to other coaches who have recently taken their teams to Ireland. Their feedback was so overwhelmingly positive that one Big Ten head coach told Klieman, “I would do it every single year if I could. That’s how much fun it was.”

Just like that, Klieman was on board and Taylor was on the phone with Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard trying to make the game happen.

Everything came together last week and the game was formally announced. The first foreign edition of Farmageddon is set for Aug. 23, 2025 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Much like past college football games in Ireland, which have featured teams like Notre Dame and Penn State and Nebraska, it will receive spotlight treatment as a standalone game on national TV.

“The exposure is huge,” Taylor said. “ESPN Gameday is going to be over there this year (for Georgia Tech and Florida State). I don’t know if they will go back over there twice. But it’s just a great Week 0 game in a great location.

“The exposure will be huge and really good for both universities. We are both agricultural schools and there are a lot of university connections to Ireland. I think there will be a lot of huge benefits across not just athletic programs but both universities, as well.”

Another positive: This game will be a money-maker for K-State.

Taylor said the Wildcats are expected to net $2.25 million for participating in the game, which is significantly more than they would earn from a traditional home matchup. Game promoters will also pay for the K-State football team, band and other staffers to travel to Ireland and then back home.

Hard as it was for K-State to move one of its home games across the Atlantic Ocean, this felt like too good of a deal to pass up.

Taylor says 99% of the feedback he has received about the game has been positive.

“People are excited,” Taylor said. “They can’t wait to figure out a way to get over there with travel packages. Now, I have got a few e-mails from people who are upset about taking a game out of Manhattan, particularly that game because we’re not going to be playing them every year from now on. But it was just such a good opportunity and a once-in-a-lifetime deal that we felt like we had to do it. We weighed all our options and felt like we’re probably not going to get an opportunity like this again.”

Some details still need to be ironed out.

Moving a conference game to the first week of the season means that both K-State and Iowa State will have to work with the Big 12 when it comes to scheduling. Preparing for a game in August instead of September could also be a challenge for coaches. Getting their teams ready to play a week after they return from Ireland might not be easy, either.

For now, Taylor said the plan is open the 2025 season with four games in four weeks (North Dakota, Army and a road trip to Arizona are on the nonconference schedule). He hopes the Big 12 will let the Wildcats have a bye week before the start of league play and then two more later in the campaign.

Playing in Ireland created some logistical headaches, but Taylor isn’t concerned about them.

“We talked a lot about the pros and cons of this game,” Taylor said. “The overriding factor was the experience and exposure for both programs. We also felt like fan excitement would be high and it has certainly turned out that way.”