Publisher's Note: This is the ninth 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 6—Missouri 28, Iowa State 16
June 13—Iowa State 31, Oklahoma State 27
June 20—Texas A&M 21, Iowa State 7
July 11—at Kansas
July 25 (pending expected baby arrival)—2005 Preview
Jack Trice Stadium
Iowa State 17, Kansas State 16
Ames, Iowa – This time they missed.
Nearly one year ago, about 40,000 Cyclone fans braved a wet and chilly November day in an effort to see Iowa State win its first conference title of any kind in football since 1912. Unfortunately, the Cyclones missed a chip shot field goal that would've beaten Missouri that day, and then saw the Tigers convert one for the victory in overtime.
Now, fast forward to Saturday. Same sloppy conditions. Same stadium. Same sized-crowd. Same slice of history on the line. The only thing different was the result.
Except this time the good guys won.
Jared Parker missed a 41-yard field goal wide right as time expired, allowing the Cyclones to hold on for a 17-16 victory at Jack Trice Stadium that clinched at least a share of the Big 12's North Division title for the second year in a row. It was also a rare second consecutive victory for ISU over its purple-clad nemesis from Manhattan.
"After all that we had worked for, lifted for, and practiced for, to see it come down to one field goal like that was unbelievable," ISU wide receiver Todd Blythe said. "Had he made that kick I know I would've been crushed."
Now the 24th-ranked Cyclones will realize what their goal was from the start of winter workouts; that is a chance to play for their first trip to the Big 12 Championship Game in the home-finale against Colorado next week. A win there and ISU is headed to Houston.
Get your tickets now…for next week, not Houston. At least not yet.
"Over the years we've had so many tough breaks against those guys," ISU Coach Dan McCarney said, referring to K-State. "For once, it was good to have the big break go our way. And it couldn't have come at a better time, no doubt about it."
Parker – a redshirt freshman kicker from Ankeny, Iowa – was only inserted into the game for the potential game-winning kick after starter Jeff Snodgrass had missed his two previous tries badly. One was a low extra point that was blocked and the other was a shank from 39-yards. This wasn't exactly the easiest situation to handle for any freshman, but especially one kicking on the road in front of the home folks. With a win, K-State would've vaulted itself into the North Division race heading into next week's finale with Missouri.
"You hate to see that happen to anybody, especially a local guy," said Blythe, an Indianola native who played in the CIML with Parker in high school. "I actually felt kind of bad for him. But in the end, I'm just glad we won."
The persnickety Bill Snyder, as expected, wasn't nearly as apologetic.
"Three missed kicks, even with the wind and rain, is just not acceptable if you want to be a championship team like we've been in the past," said Snyder, whose team is in danger of missing out on a bowl game for the second straight season. "Jared was put into a tough position, but we wouldn't have put him in that position if we didn't have the confidence that he would come through. Unfortunately, he didn't. That's tough on him, and even tougher on us as a football team."
This was a low-scoring battle all the way. Beyond the pesky weather conditions, both offenses had to contend with some stingy defenses.
K-State held a 10-7 advantage at halftime, buoyed by two ISU turnovers. The first, just Stevie Hicks' second fumble of the season, led to a 30-yard field goal by Snodgrass. The second, a Jesse Tetuan interception of a Bret Meyer pass, led to a nine-yard touchdown run from Thomas Clayton. ISU got its only points of the first half on Hicks' one-yard touchdown plunge early in the second quarter.
"Their defense played real well and they were really keying on the running game," said Hicks, whose 83 yards rushing were enough to put him over the 1,000-yard mark for a second straight year. "And then with that weather it made throwing the ball hard unless you were going with the wind."
With the wind in the third quarter, the Cyclone passing attack did the bulk of its damage. Meyer hit three consecutive completions to Blythe, Jon Davis, and Walter Nickel to set up a two-yard touchdown pass to Ben Barkema on third-and-goal to give ISU its first lead, 14-10.
A 57-yard run by Clayton, easily the longest play of the game, brought K-State right back into scoring range on its next drive, but Snodgrass' field goal attempt was no good preserving ISU's edge.
With momentum on its side after the miss, ISU went back on the attack. Meyer hit Blythe for a 29-yard gain – Blythe's only catch of the afternoon – which quickly reversed field position. Meyer then had a 17-yard run, followed by a 14-yard run by Davis on the reverse. However, Meyer over-shot Nickel in the back of the end zone on third-and-goal setting up Culbertson's 25-yard field goal that gave ISU a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.
That's when the Wildcats went back on the prowl offensively. Setting up the drive was a 42-yard return by Yamon Figures that gave K-State excellent field position. Quarterback Allen Webb scampered 13 yards and then combined with Clayton for a 16-yard screen pass. A few plays later, fullback Ayo Saba barreled into the endzone from the two-yard line for the touchdown. But instead of tying the score, Snodgrass reserved for himself a seat on the bench by missing the extra point.
"That was huge," Hicks said, stating the obvious.
Yet ISU was unable to take advantage of the miscue and run out the clock, so the Wildcats were given one last chance to play road spoiler.
Webb drove K-State downfield and into field goal range, using his feet more than his throwing arm. At one point the drive was kept alive on a roughing the passer penalty on Jason Berryman. But the ISU defense did come up with one big play when Stevie Paris knocked away a pass to Davin Dennis that would've given the Wildcats a first down inside the ISU 15. Minutes later, with time nearly gone and their timeouts exhausted, the Wildcats called on Parker to win it for them to no avail.
The Cyclones are now 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the North Division. If they beat Colorado (5-4) next week in Ames, which they haven't done since 1983, or before a majority of their roster was even born, they'll win their first outright North Division title.
Kansas State 3-7-0-6=16
Iowa State 7-0-3-7=17
KSU—FG Snodgrass 32
ISU—Hicks 1 run
KSU—Clayton 9 run (Snodgrass kick)
ISU—Barkema 2 pass from Meyer (Culbertson kick)
ISU—FG Culbertson 25
KSU—Saba 2 run (kick failed)
Rushing—Kansas State (193): Clayton 18-114, Webb 7-51, Alsup 5-18, Saba 3-10; Iowa State (162): Hicks 21-83, Meyer 10-40, Scales 5-16, Davis 1-14. Passing—Kansas State (94): Webb 10-18-1-94; Iowa State (134): Meyer 13-23-1-134. Receiving—Kansas State: Figures 3-32, Moreira 3-20, Clayton 2-24, Dennis 1-11, Alstatt 1-8; Iowa State: Davis 4-36, Flynn 2-26, Nickel 2-19, Barkema 2-13, Blythe 1-29, Baum 1-7, Hicks 1-6. Sacks—Iowa State 3, Kansas State 2. Attendance—40,044.
(Steve Deace can be heard on the radio each weekday in Iowa from 3-6 p.m. on 1460-KXNO, the flagship of the Cyclone Radio Network.)