Sunday, November 27, 2005

Cyclones 0-for-overtime

OT loss in last year's finale kept ISU out of Big 12 title game, too


Call Iowa State snake-bit. Say the Cyclones are college football's unluckiest team. It's probably true.

Iowa State has lost three overtime football games this season, including Saturday's 24-21 decision to Kansas at Memorial Stadium.

"We've lost three of them on the road," ISU coach Dan McCarney said. "We've got to do a better job."

As if earlier overtime losses to Nebraska (27-20) and Missouri (27-24) weren't enough, Saturday's defeat gave the Cyclones' players and coaches an eerie feeling of dejà vu.

In last season's finale against Missouri, Iowa State had an opportunity - just like Saturday - to capture the Big 12 North title and earn a berth in the conference championship game.

Instead, Mizzou posted a 17-14 victory in - you guessed it - overtime.

"As I was walking off the field," ISU punter Troy Blankenship said, "I thought I was dreaming. I couldn't believe this was happening. It was the same situation as last year."

Here's another coincidence: ISU place-kicker Bret Culbertson was wide-right on a 29-yard field-goal attempt with 1:02 remaining in regulation that would have won the 2004 Missouri game.

On Saturday, Culbertson misfired on a 41-yard field- goal attempt in overtime. Yep, it was wide-right.

"I was hoping to make up for last year," Culbertson said, "and it sucks to have let your team down again. The hold and everything were OK. I just missed it."

Then there was last month's Missouri game. Culbertson wasn't a factor in that one, but another scenario was similar. Iowa State knocked MU quarterback Brad Smith out of that game, and freshman Chase Daniel came off the bench to guide the Tigers to the victory.

Saturday, Brian Luke subbed at QB after starter Jason Swanson was injured early in the fourth quarter and led the Jayhawks to the thrilling come-from-behind victory.

"That's two times in a row a second-team quarterback beat us," ISU nose tackle Nick Leaders said. "We've got to stop knocking out the starting quarterback, I guess."

Leaders and the other ISU seniors were having a hard time accepting the fact they had wasted back-to-back opportunities to participate in the league championship game.

"This is one of those games you don't get over," Leaders said. "Once in a lifetime you get to play in the Big 12 championship game, and it's happened to us two years in a row."

On the road back to Ames, the Cyclones no doubt will be mulling over a couple of reviewed plays that went against them. The first occurred early in the third quarter and erased an apparent 39-yard touchdown pass from Bret Meyer to Todd Blythe. The other awarded a touchdown to Kansas after the field officials ruled Luke had been stopped an inch or so short of the goal.

Someone asked McCarney if he felt unlucky because ISU went 0-2 on reviewed plays.

"You've got to make your luck," said. "You have to make plays. Kansas turned it up a notch late and made plays. They earned it. They deserved it."


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