"I didn't see any one thing," said Cyclone head coach Dan McCarney, who saw his squad slump to 2-8 overall and winless string in the Big 12 extended to six. "We were just inconsistent. They sure played better (than their ranking) today, as they did when they beat Missouri last week. They didn't stay blocked and did a good job running to the ball. Their coverage at times was really good. We've got to start playing with more confidence, and to do that you've got to make more plays.
"It could easily be our worst first half of the season. We had great meetings and our preparation was good. Our seniors did a wonderful job last night talking about this game, and finishing the season despite the disappointment and frustration. Colorado really came out, played well and got after us in the first half."
ISU got something going in the second half with a 31-yard field goal from Adam Benike and 28-yard scoring pass from Waye Terry to Jamaul Montgomery. But those garbage points came against CU reserves, which subbed in with their team leading 37-0 in the second half.
"We will build on the second half," McCarney said. "There was nothing there in the first half that I saw. But we've got to pull some things out of the second half, because we did move the ball and scored some points. We played much better defense and got some turnovers. We've got to build on that, because the first half was horrible."
The line for Terry's second start didn't reach much better than his first: 16-of-40 completions for 121 yards and one touchdown to one interception. But again, ISU receivers didn't do him any favors by dropping numerous balls, including some that would have gone for scores.
The second-half production couldn't erase the memories of a brutal start. ISU's offense took just 27 snaps in fewer than 12 minutes of action, and netted just 30 yards and three first downs.
"I'm not sure what was not going right," said tailback Stevie Hicks, who managed just 55 yards on 15 carries. "It seems like when we go downhill, we stay down for a while. They had a pretty good gameplan coming in and executed it pretty well. We've got to stay positive and get things back on track. It's pretty frustrating, but we've got two games left and need to stay upbeat. We've got to get these next two wins."
In two shutout losses to Nebraska and Kansas State, ISU's defense surrendered numerous scores with their backs against the wall. That was the case again Saturday, as the Cyclones gave up scores on short fields. Four CU scoring drives went just four, 15, 28 and 42 yards.
"It's tough, coming out and playing like we did today," said defensive tackle Jordan Carstens, who played his final game at Jack Trice Stadium. "It's hard to pinpoint what really went wrong. It's probably a lot of things. We weren't able to match their intensity. We've got to get that winning attitude back, and just come out and have a good week of practice. Hopefully we can get it done."
That will be difficult for a Cyclone team that wraps up the regular season on the road against Kansas and Missouri in consecutive weeks. Next week's game kicks off at 1 p.m. in Lawrence.
"We've got two weeks left as a football family," McCarney said. "There is some finality to this thing right now. We know it's over in two weeks. You can go into the tank, hide, make excuses, point fingers and talk about next year, or you can zero in and lock in on these next 14 days and finish the season with our heads held high."