Cyclones' title drought stretches to 114 years

Monday, November 28, 2005

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Kansas is going bowling. So is Iowa State, only without a quick side trip to the Big 12 championship game.

The same fate has befallen the Cyclones two years in a row. All they needed last year to reach their first conference championship match was to beat Missouri in the regular-season finale. But they lost in overtime.

This year all they needed was to beat Kansas. But they lost in overtime.

"As I was walking off the field, I thought I was dreaming," said Iowa State punter Troy Blankenship. "I couldn't believe this was happening. It was the same situation as last year in overtime. It definitely is one of the worst feelings in the world."

The Cyclones wasted an 11-point lead and missed a field goal in overtime, then watched Scott Webb nail a 34-yarder to give the Jayhawks a 24-21 victory Saturday that makes them bowl eligible and sends Colorado to the Big 12 game next weekend to meet No. 2 Texas.

Iowa State, after losing their first three conference games, had reeled off four wins in a row. But it's Colorado (7-4, 5-3 Big 12) who will limp to the matchup with the unbeaten Longhorns. They'll be coming off a 30-3 loss to Nebraska on Friday which gave Iowa State (7-4, 4-4) a chance to tie Colorado for the North title. The Cyclones would have gone to the championship game because they beat the Buffaloes in the regular season.

"I feel terrible for these kids," said Iowa State coach Dan McCarney. "They gave a great effort, just as Kansas did. They put a lot into this and my heart goes out to them, because I know how hard they've worked."

There was little compassion in the Kansas locker room, where 20 seniors had just finished with the Jayhawks' first unbeaten home record since 1951.

"We've kind of spoiled their season, so to speak," said linebacker Nick Reid. "And that's great. It makes you feel really good, especially when they're out there talking all that trash they were talking."

It will be the second bowl in Mark Mangino's five years at Kansas (6-5, 3-5).

"If you were one of the lucky fans sitting in Memorial Stadium today, you watched two good football teams play," Mangino said. "The kids stayed poised. We just tried to execute what was planned."

Before Webb kicked his game-winner, Iowa State's Bret Culbertson missed from 41 yards in overtime. Culbertson missed a field goal last year that would have beaten Missouri in regulation.

"I was hoping to make up for last year," Culbertson said. "But it [stinks] to let your team down again. I just missed the kick."

The Cyclones, who tied Colorado for the North title last year but lost to the Buffaloes in the regular season, missed an opportunity to play for their first outright conference championship in 114 years of football.

The Cyclones entered last year's regular-season finale in the same position, needing to beat Missouri. But they lost 17-14 after Culbertson missed a 24-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds of regulation, and Iowa State couldn't convert in overtime on first-and-goal from the 3.

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