Another Forgettable Chapter

Turnovers and penalties became the obvious theme of Iowa State's latest drubbing at the hands of Kansas State and never was that more evident than a six-minute, 18-second span of the third quarter.

Wildcat defensive back Bobby Walker picked off Seneca Wallace twice and returned both for touchdowns in a 23-second span, then the Cyclones lost fumbles by Wallace and Hiawatha Rutland and one would turn into another scoring drive. The net result in a 58-7 blowout loss was six total turnovers over the course of yet another miserable day in Manhattan.

When they weren't turning it over, ISU was most likely backing up offensively or giving its opponent extra benefits in the way of penalties. Head coach Dan McCarney likes to pride himself on having the least-penalized team in the Big 12, but on this night it was anything but. The Cyclones were whistled for 12 infractions—including 10 in the opening 30 minutes--that netted 100 total yards.

"It's very uncharacteristic of our football team," said the coach, who will see his team drop from the rankings after another difficult road loss to a ranked team. "We've been one of the top teams in the country protecting the football and getting turnovers. We turned it over six times today and had been the least-penalized team in the Big 12 through three months of football. The flags never stopped dropping today.

"But Kansas State was just an outstanding football team today. On the day that we played them, I thought that was the best team we've played all year. They were dominant on both sides of the ball and in all phases."

Whether it's penalties and turnovers, or just plain getting manhandled up front in the rushing game, blowouts have become the theme of Cyclone-Wildcat matchups in recent years. With Saturday night's 51-point drubbing, K-State has now outscored the Cyclones by a 156-20 margin over the past three seasons.

Given ISU's ability to close the gap against other programs such as Nebraska, Colorado and Texas, repeated blowouts to Bill Snyder's program continues to leave players mystified.

"They come out here and seem to play their best football of the year against us," said ISU's lone bright spot on offense Lane Danielsen, who caught a game-high eight passes for 133 yards. "We seem to play about our worst. I don't know if it's a matchup thing or mental thing. For me it's a red-letter game. We just came out and couldn't get it done. It felt like we were playing uphill the whole game. Every time we looked around it's 2nd-and-35. We kept getting penalties and turning the ball over. That's a big part of this game."

While turnovers seemed to bring on the Cyclones' second-half demise, penalties cost them numerous opportunities on offense through the opening 30 minutes. ISU was flagged eight times for 10 times for 74 yards in the first half. Seven of those infractions came at inopportune times of the second quarter.

"The refs were watching us closely today and called a lot of fouls on us," said ISU center Zach Butler, who returned to the game after straining his Achilles Tendon in the first quarter. "We were one of the least penalized teams in the country. That's unlike us and really hurt. We've got to refocus and not make those types of penalties. That hurts you on long runs and stalls drives."

But Wallace put a lot of the blame on his shoulders and took his pair of third-quarter interceptions for touchdowns particularly hard.

In all he threw for 162 yards on 11-of-26 completions, including three interceptions. He wasn't much of a factor on the ground, either, as he carried eight times for just four yards. His day would end prematurely in the fourth quarter when backup Cris Love subbed in for him with the game out of hand.

"I just played sorry," he said. "I played bad. I take full responsibility for what happened today. It shouldn't have been that bad. I made a lot of mistakes that I should not have made and they capitalized on it. They had a good gameplan and played what we were trying to do pretty well. Basically, I just played sh$@&y."

K-State and first-year co-defensive coordinator Bobby Elliott threw a variety of defensive looks at Wallace, but didn't attempt putting much pressure on the senior quarterback.

"We just had to be sound," said Snyder, whose team improved its chances for a Big 12 North title. "We didn't blitz a lot and mixed it up. Six turnovers is major. They have a better football team than that, but we played extremely well."


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