Monday Musings

For just the second time in school history the Cyclones are 5-0, and a win at Missouri would clearly put Iowa State in the driver's seat for the Big 12 North Division crown. But standing in ISU's way is a Tiger team desperate for its first conference victory.

Publisher's Note: This is the sixth in a 12-part series, projecting the outcome of the upcoming Iowa State football season. These are works of fiction, obviously, and all the information and quotes printed are figments of the writer's fertile imagination. However, they are also meant as analysis and prognostication. The schedule for the rest of the Monday Musings throughout the offseason are as follows:

May 2—Iowa State 38, Illinois State 3

May 9—Iowa State 23, Iowa 21

May 16—Iowa State 26, Army 14

May 23—Iowa State 27, Nebraska 20

May 30—Iowa State 35, Baylor 14

June 13—Oklahoma State

June 20—at Texas A&M

June 27—Kansas State

July 4—Colorado

July 11—at Kansas

July 18—Postseason

July 25 (pending expected baby arrival)—2005 Preview

October 15th

Memorial Stadium

Missouri 28, Iowa State 16

Columbia, Mo. – The Cyclones are undefeated no more.

Iowa State rolled into Columbia as the lone remaining unbeaten in the North Division, and ranked 13th in the nation. It left town with the first blemish on its record, which will like result in a drop in the polls.

Brad Smith ran over, around, and through the Cyclones and led Missouri to a 28-16 upset victory. But was it really an upset? Although the Tigers had lost two straight coming in and were unranked, they were actually a slight favorite according to the oddsmakers.

Missouri is now 4-2 overall and 1-2 in Big 12 play. The Cyclones fall to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference.

"We knew we were going to get their best shot," ISU Coach Dan McCarney said. "And we got it, no doubt about it. For whatever reason we just never matched their emotional intensity. They were desperate for a win and we lacked some flash from the start."

The Tigers were coming off back-to-back narrow losses to Texas and Oklahoma State, which spoiled their 3-0 start against soft non-conference competition. They knew a loss here to ISU would likely end any hopes of winning the division crown and perhaps send their season towards a downward spiral similar to last year's.

"We were desperate and had to have this one," Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel said. "We might've actually played better in the Texas loss than we did today, but those breaks balance out in the end. And we got some much-needed breaks today to beat a good football team."

Indeed, the Cyclones – who had been tied for second in the Big 12 in turnover margin – uncharacteristically gave the ball away three times in the first half and dug themselves a hole they could not dig out of the rest of the way. They trailed, 21-3, at the half.

"We fought hard in the second half but just couldn't get all the way back," wide receiver Todd Blythe said.

On Missouri's opening drive of the game Smith served notice it was going to be a long afternoon for the ISU defense. He led the Tigers 80 yards downfield in 11 plays, reaching the endzone on a 14-yard scramble for a touchdown.

The Cyclones drove to the Missouri 40-yard line on their ensuing drive, but turned it over on Stevie Hicks first fumble of the season. Dedrick Harrington recovered it and put the Missouri offense back in business in good field position.

Runs by Tony Temple and Marcus Woods failed to yield a first down, but on third down Smith found Sean Coffey deep over the middle for a 21-yard completion. Four plays later Smith scored on another keeper – this time from seven yards out – and the Tigers had a 14-0 lead.

"I think we stunned them early and set the tone from there," said Smith, who finished with 261 total yards. "We lost some tough ones the past couple of weeks so it was about time the ball bounced our way."

In the second quarter, Jason Simpson intercepted Bret Meyer near midfield for turnover number two. This time, however, the ISU defense stiffened and Missouri was forced to settle for a 37-yard field goal attempt by Adam Crossett that was wide left. ISU finally had some momentum, and used a big play downfield from Meyer to Blythe to set up Bret Culbertson's 35-yard field goal. The Cyclones were finally on the scoreboard.

Missouri's only three-and-out of the first half came next, and the Cyclones were driving again until a dropped ball by Walter Nickel on third down set up another field goal attempt. Unfortunately, this time Culbertson's attempt grazed the upright and was no good. The score remained 14-3.

Later, turnover number three happened, and it couldn't have happened at a worse time for the Cyclones.

ISU had mounted its most impressive drive of the afternoon thus far, going 68 yards to inside the Tigers' 10-yard line. That's when Meyer relived a nightmare, attempting to hit Jon Davis on the fade route in the corner of the end zone he instead was picked off by A.J. Kincade, who returned it to the 26-yard line.

"Those were the two biggest plays of the game for them," McCarney said. "If we make that field goal and score a touchdown there it's either a one-point game or tied, depending on whether we would've gone for two or not. Plus, we would've had the momentum heading into halftime. We didn't take care of business on our end."

The stunned Cyclones then saw Smith hit Coffey for another big play past midfield. A 13-yard Smith scramble, followed by a 18-yard screen pass to Woods, suddenly had the Tigers within striking distance again. Smith made good on the threat a few plays later, connecting with William Franklin for a jump ball over the head of freshman James Smith for an 11-yard touchdown pass. Smith was in the game to give LaMarcus Hicks a blow.

"He had good coverage on that play and was right there," McCarney said. "But he's 5-9 on his tiptoes and their guy is 6-2 and a great leaper. There was nothing he could do."

It was 21-3 at the half, and the Tigers already had all the points in the game they would need. With its running game rendered almost completely ineffective and trailing by three touchdowns, the Cyclones went to the air in the second half.

Meyer led the Cyclones 73 yards downfield for their first touchdown of the game, hitting Ben Barkema for a 3-yard completion in the end zone. After surrendering a few first downs, the ISU defense finally forced the Tigers to punt. Meyer found Blythe for a 31-yard pass play that set up a 33-yard field goal by Culbertson to make the score 21-13. The Cyclones appeared to be back in the ball game. That's when Brad Smith went back to work.

Smith led the Tigers on the drive of the game: 13 plays and 80 yards in 7 minutes and 33 seconds. A quarterback sneak on third and goal capped the drive and drove the final nail in ISU's coffin. The Cyclones would get a 49-yard field goal from Tony Yelk on their next drive, but nothing after that.

"We still have a shot to reach all of our goals this season," captain Nik Moser said. "We just need to put this one behind us and regroup for a good Oklahoma State team next week."

The Cowboys are off to a solid 4-2 start under first year coach Mike Gundy and will be ISU's homecoming opponent next week.

Iowa State 0-3-10-3=16

Missouri 14-7-0-7=28

Missouri—Smith 14 run (Crossett kick)

Missouri—Smith 7 run (Crossett kick)

ISU—Culbertson 35 field goal

Missouri—Franklin 11 pass from Smith (Crossett kick)

ISU—Barkema 3 pass from Meyer (Culbertson kick)

ISU—Culbertson 33 field goal

Missouri—Smith 1 run (Crossett kick)

ISU—Yelk 49 field goal

Rushing—Iowa State (68): Hicks 13-39, Meyer 8-14, Scales 4-11; Missouri (215): Smith 16-116, Temple 15-71, Woods 7-28. Passing—Iowa State (237): Meyer 16-34-2-237; Missouri (145): Smith 11-18-0-145. Receiving—Iowa State: Blythe 7-138, Davis 4-59, Flynn 3-31, and Barkema 2-9; Missouri: Coffey 4-74, Franklin 3-29, Woods 2-24, Ekwerekwu 1-14, Rucker 1-7. Sacks—Missouri 4, Iowa State 1. Attendance—60,119.

PS…

We had two important announcements on the site last week. In case you missed them click on these two links:

(Steve Deace can be heard on the radio in Iowa each weekday from 3-6 p.m. on 1460-KXNO, the flagship of the Cyclone Radio Network.)


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