Ames, Iowa No matter how many injured players Dan McCarney was without in Saturday's 41-10 loss to Kansas University, the Iowa State football coach still expected much more of a fight.
"This is obviously one of the most disappointing losses in my 12 years here at Iowa State," the beleaguered coach said. "I know we've got some guys missing from the lineup, but our fans deserve better than what we gave them here today as a football family."
Things were promising for the Cyclones when KU quarterback Kerry Meier fumbled on the game's opening possession, setting up ISU kicker Bret Culbertson for a 36-yard chippie of a field goal.
But from that point, Iowa State was nipped by the same bug from which it benefited at the start.
The Cyclones fumbled five times - losing three to the Jayhawks - and Bret Meyer threw an interception to add to his team's turnover woes.
"We would get a little momentum, and they would get the ball right back," Iowa State defensive end Shawn Moorehead said. "It happened all day."
None of those scenarios was more painful than the one that took place at the end of the third quarter.
With KU leading, 34-3, Todd Reesing threw an interception right into Moorehead's gut, setting up the Cyclones at the Jayhawk 11-yard line. It took one play for Iowa State's Josh Johnson to run the ball one yard before fumbling it right back into the hands of KU's Darrell Stuckey.
At halftime, the crowd at Jack Trice Stadium was down about half from the start. That series sent even more Cyclones faithful toward the exits.
Following the game, the few thousand remaining sent their Cyclones to the locker room to a cascade of boos.
"The locker room is down," Johnson said. "Everybody is down, but we are not out."
The defeat dropped Iowa State to 3-7 overall and kept ISU alone in the Big 12 North cellar at 0-6. The loss eliminated Iowa State from any sort of bowl contention, with just two games remaining.
"We can go one of two ways in these last two games," McCarney said. "And I just trust that the character and leadership of this team can remain strong and that we'll fight through this together and try to finish up with our heads held high in the last couple of Big 12 games of the season."