AMES, Iowa (AP) -- 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
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
"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
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
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
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
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.
"I didn't even hear the (defensive) call," Kincade said. "I
just said, I'll stick with this man, just go with him. The ball was
up. I just had an opportunity to make the best of it."
Brad Smith accounted for 251 of Missouri's 358 yards. He 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
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 job but missed the chip shot wide right, leaving
the crowd of 40,626 in a gloomy silence that matched the gray,
overcast sky on this raw, blustery Midwest afternoon.
"I just pushed it," Culbertson said. "Once I made contact, I
knew it. I didn't even have to look up."
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 Hicks' 2-yard touchdown run with 8:58 left.
Meyer's 13-yard TD run on an option keeper tied it at 7 in the
second quarter, right after Missouri's Marcus Woods had capped a
94-yard, nine-play drive with a 5-yard TD run.
"The main thing was after these last few losses we had, people
were starting to say we were quitters," Kincade said. "We just
wanted to come out here and make a statement that we weren't giving
up in this last game of the season."