Sunday, November 27, 2005

Maybe This Wasn't Such a Good Idea

It has been 10 years since the Big 8 and Southwest conferences brokered a back-room deal to merge. The Kansas City Star gives the marriage a thumbs up. But it probably endorses Wal-Mart Super Centers, too. Like so many things theses days, the deal appears to benefit Texas (Haliburton, Enron, Longhorns. ...). One of the positive examples cited is the improvement of the bottomfeeders. Iowa State, for example, will be playing in its fifth bowl in six seasons. But the article fails to chronicle one of the ugliest weeks in Big 12 history. The Cyclones blew a chance to advance to the Big 12 title game for the second year in a row (see comments) by losing to Kansas (video), for chrissakes. This allowed Colorado, which was drilled at home to Nebraska, 30-3, to back in to the title game for the second year in a row. Now the Buffs get to be slaughtered by — you guess it — Texas, whose fans are still clinging to the idea that Vince Young can win the Heisman. And what about those great Oklahoma Sooners? They are left begging for a trip to the Holiday Bowl (video). Anything to avoid going to the Alamo Bowl in — correct again — Texas (some registration).

3 comments:

dawizofodds said...

Intolerable cruelty for Cyclones, again

Mike Hlas
Cedar Rapids Gazette

LAWRENCE, Kan. — This will make sense sometime around, oh, never.

The way Iowa State loses football games in its biggest moments of truth seems untrue. Not to mention unbelievable, unreal, inhumane. It doesn’t matter if the foe is Missouri or Kansas, if the site is blustery Ames or balmy Lawrence. How the Cyclones have lost games that would have taken them to Big 12 championship contests with wins is enough to make scientists believe in hexes.

"You’ve just got to make your own luck, I believe," ISU Coach Dan McCarney said Saturday after his team’s 24-21 overtime loss to Kansas at Memorial Stadium.

The Cyclones might want to consider doing that some year when a chance to get to a league title-game is at stake. If, that is, such a chance comes along in McCarney’s tenure. Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech hop back on Iowa State’s schedule for 2006 and 2007.

"It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go to the Big 12 championship game and have a chance to win the conference," said Iowa State senior nose tackle Nick Leaders. "That’s two years in a row that we blew it."

Leaders' two statements don’t jibe with each other. He was right, anyhow.

Look, the Jayhawks deserved their triumph Saturday, and the Cyclones deserved to lose. Kansas made big plays down the stretch, Iowa State didn’t. Kansas played stifling defense when it mattered most. Iowa State allowed 169 yards in the fourth quarter.

But still, this awful result, in overtime, again? To a seemingly lesser opponent, again? With a blown field goal that was plenty makeable, again?

This was worse than the 17-14 OT loss to Missouri in Ames a year ago today that kept Iowa State out of the Big 12 title game in Kansas City, even though Bret Culbertson missed a 24-yard field goal with 1:06 left that day that would have been a game-winner and program-changer.

With a strong prairie wind at his back here, Culbertson missed a 41-yarder wide right after ISU gained just 2 yards on three offensive plays in the overtime.

The former walk-on returned to the sideline and stood with his helmet on his head and his hands on his hips.

He surely knew what everyone else in the stadium knew — the opportunity to push Iowa State’s football image forward nationally had again blown away.

Jayhawk Scott Webb made it official with a 34-yard field goal a few minutes later. Thus, instead of a trophy making its way to ISU’s dressing room, all that entered were obscenities and tears.

Incredibly, Iowa State has lost just once in regulation in its last 17 games. More incredibly, it has lost four overtime games in that stretch.

"If we’ve got to go to overtime in the bowl game to win," McCarney said, "hopefully we can get out and finish the deal."

A bowl game? Yeah, there’s a bowl game. The Alamo Bowl rep who was here vanished after the game while the Houston Bowl’s guy lingered outside the Cyclones’ locker room. He seemed like a nice guy but may as well have been the Grim Reaper.

The Houston Bowl would be a cruel irony for the Cyclones after a trip to Houston for something truly meaningful eluded them. Friday, the chance to become emperors of the North opened when champ-by-default Colorado embarrassed itself in a 30-3 loss to Nebraska.

The Cyclones wanted to play Texas for a title, not Texas Christian for pride. It wouldn’t have seemed possible beforehand, but this loss was more crushing than the one to Missouri last year. The Cyclones never led that day.

Here, they were up 14-3 at halftime and looked solid. The Alamo Bowl guy was telling reporters ISU, Oklahoma and Nebraska were equally in his game’s sights.

But the Jayhawks’ defense, the Big 12’s best when it isn’t playing Texas, clamped down tight for all but one Iowa State series after halftime. While on the drive it most needed to be airtight this season, the Cyclones’ defense was shoddy. KU went 58 yards on four plays in 44 seconds for a 21-21 tie with 1:05 left in regulation.

The tying score came on a 15-yard pass from backup fifth-year senior quarterback Brian Luke to freshman receiver Dexton Fields, who had zero career catches until then. It figured.

Iowa State hit on a 39-yard touchdown pass the official on the scene waited a few moments to signal.

Then another official took it away, and the official who reviewed the play upheld the judgment that Todd Blythe’s first foot landed out-of-bounds.

The Cyclones stacked up Luke on fourth-and-goal from the 6-inch line. But a review is called for, and Kansas was awarded a touchdown. Did Blythe score? Did ISU stop Luke? Yes. No. Saturday capped a season that has provided a lifetime’s worth of what-ifs for Iowa State.

But strip it down and you’re left with the fact that when it’s truly showtime for this team, it no-shows.

"Let’s go to Houston and win a bowl game," a lone ISU fan encouraged the Cyclones as they lumbered to their locker room. The sentiment of a taunting KU student was more in tune with the moment. "Long ride home!" he laughed. Unreal.

Mike.Hlas@gazettecommunications.com

Anonymous said...

Some of you people obsess about Texas (the State and the team) more than I obsessed about Tawny Kitaen back in the 80s. Equally pathetic. GET OVER IT

Anonymous said...

Not sure who said Oklahoma was dreading a trip to the Alamo Bowl. Oklahoma has never been afraid of anything from Texas.