Missouri takes away Iowa State's Big 12 North title

Sunday, November 28, 2004

AMES, Iowa -- Adam Crossett kicked Iowa State out of the Big 12 championship game.

Crossett's 25-yard field goal in overtime, the first of his college career, gave Missouri the lead and A.J. Kincade's interception preserved a 17-14 victory for the beleaguered Tigers on Saturday.

Missouri (5-6, 3-5 Big 12) salvaged a sweet ending to a disappointing season by breaking a five-game losing streak and keeping Iowa State (6-5, 4-4) from winning the Big 12 North outright.

The Cyclones tied Colorado for first, but Colorado advances to next Saturday's conference title game against No. 2 Oklahoma in Kansas City because it beat Iowa State.

Iowa State, which last won a football championship in 1912, had a chance to win it in regulation. But Bret Culbertson was wide right on a 24-yard field goal attempt with 1:02 left, leaving the crowd of 40,626 in a gloomy silence that matched the gray, overcast sky on this raw, blustery Midwest afternoon.

Missouri got the ball first in overtime and drove to the Iowa State 7. Coach Gary Pinkel then summoned Crossett, a freshman who took over the place-kicking job only a week ago and had been 0-for-2 on field goals.

But he split the uprights from the left hash mark, putting the pressure on Iowa State.

On the Cyclones' first play, tight end Ben Barkema sneaked into the secondary and was wide open at the 7, but Bret Meyer threw the ball behind him and Barkema couldn't hold on.

Iowa State still drove to a first-and-goal at the 3, then lost 3 yards on two plays. On third down, Meyer tried to lob the ball to Jon Davis in the end zone, but Kincade picked it off, denying the Cyclones a championship that was in their grasp.

Iowa State still made a remarkable turnaround after going 2-10 last season and is expected to play in a bowl game for the fourth time in five years.

Missouri's Brad Smith carried 21 times for 101 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown run, and completed 13 of 24 passes for 150 yards with one interception. But his biggest play was a touchdown-saving tackle after a Missouri fumble.

Iowa State's Nik Moser knocked the ball from receiver Thomson Omboga, Steve Paris picked it up at the Missouri 34 and sprinted down the left sideline. Smith bumped Paris out of bounds at the Missouri 15, then was slow to get up and had to be walked off the field by two trainers.

The Cyclones ran three running plays before calling on Culbertson, a walk-on freshman who wasn't even on the team when practice started in August. He had been 7-for-8 on field goals since winning the kicking job but missed the chip shot that might have given the Cyclones the victory.

Though Missouri had nothing to play for, the Tigers came up with a spirited effort on a day that started with the wind chill at 22 degrees and a northwest wind howling at 25 to 35 mph.

The Tigers took a 14-7 lead in the third quarter when Smith caught Iowa State in a blitz and sprinted 36 yards to the end zone through a big hole in the right side of the line. Iowa State tied it on Stevie Hicks' 2-yard touchdown run with 8:58 left, a play set up by Meyer's 35-yard completion to Todd Blythe.

Meyer's 13-yard TD run on an option keeper tied it at 7 in the second quarter, right after Missouri had gone up 7-0 with a 94-yard, nine-play drive against the wind.

Marcus Woods took care of the drive's final 29 yards, breaking two tackles on a 24-yard run to the 5, and taking it in on the next play.

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