Missouri spoils ISU's Big 12 title game hopes

Sunday, November 28, 2004

AMES, Iowa -- With a kick and a pick, Missouri knocked Iowa State out of the Big 12 championship game.

Adam Crossett kicked a 25-yard field goal in overtime to give Missouri the lead and A.J. Kincade intercepted a pass in the end zone to preserve a 17-14 victory for the beleaguered Tigers on Saturday.

Making just enough plays to salvage a sweet ending to a disappointing season, Missouri (5-6, 3-5 Big 12) broke a five-game losing streak and kept Iowa State from winning the Big 12 North outright.

"It's been a very difficult five or six weeks and the football team has worked very hard," said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who has taken much of the heat for the Tigers' struggles. "It's just very rewarding for me to see them smiling, laughing, feeling good about themselves."

Iowa State (6-5, 4-4) can take some consolation in getting a bowl bid for the fourth time in five years. But the Cyclones, whose last football championship came in 1912, had so much more within their grasp.

Bret Culbertson missed a 24-yard field-goal attempt that could have won it regulation and Iowa State couldn't convert in overtime on first-and-goal from the Missouri 3.

The Cyclones tied Colorado for first place in the North, but the Buffaloes advance to the conference championship game next Saturday against No. 2 Oklahoma in Kansas City because of their 19-14 victory over Iowa State on Oct. 16.

"It makes you want to throw up," said linebacker Erik Anderson, his eyes still red from crying. "It's a sick feeling. We fought all day. There wasn't any lack of effort or lack of intensity or passion. Everyone came to play, everyone came to win.

"There's a lot sick guys in the locker room right now."

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

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. Then on second down from the 7, Stevie Hicks broke through a hole and seemed on his way to a touchdown, but was tripped up by Shirdonya Mitchell's ankle tackle.

Still, the Cyclones had a first down and were just 3 yards from the division title.

"I was definitely excited," wide receiver Todd Miller said. "But it's never over until the fat lady sings and I guess the fat lady hadn't sung. But I was expecting to score."

Three players later, Meyer tried to lob the ball to Jon Davis in the end zone, but Kincade picked it off.

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