NCF Nation: Ben Lamaak

What a difference a play makes

July, 27, 2011
DALLAS -- One play could have changed the entire Big 12 landscape in 2010. Iowa State took a Taylor Martinez-less Nebraska team into overtime and scored what looked like a game-tying touchdown … until the Cyclones faked the extra point.

Paul Rhoads
Kevin Jairaj/US PresswirePaul Rhoads and Iowa State were a play away from making noise in 2010.
Reserve punter Daniel Kuehl had a wide-open Collin Franklin, the Cyclones' leading receiver, in the back of the end zone, but short-armed the pass on a wind-swept November day in Ames, allowing Nebraska's Eric Hagg to come down with a game-clinching interception.

"It's a call that I relive and a play I relive every week," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. "There's not a week that goes by that I don't think about the play and what it could have created for our football team and our football program."

And not just for the Cyclones, who would have been bowl-eligible with the win. It also would have put Iowa State in the Big 12 North Division drivers' seat and sent Nebraska to the Big Ten without so much as a share of the Big 12 North title. Instead, Missouri would have represented the conference against Oklahoma.

Rhoads, though, has repeatedly emphasized he'd do it all over again.

"And as the game went along, it was a play I studied and certainly was there," he said. "That's the name of the game, when it's a play like that, the final play of a game or the first play of the game, you have to execute to be successful."

Iowa State was playing with a limping quarterback, a limping top receiver and a center in Ben Lamaak who left the game twice with an injury. One play was the best way to decide it.

The Cyclones lost a game on that day, but Rhoads, perhaps the Big 12's most underrated coach, earned a whole new legion of fans with the gutsy call gone wrong.

"The fallout was positive," Rhoads said. "If anything, from players to fans to most people I talked to they thought it was a right call -- gutsy call, but the right call -- and would have given us an opportunity to really springboard our program, I feel."

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 5

October, 3, 2010
Here are the five (and a few more) guys who got it done this week:

Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor: Griffin threw for a career-high 380 yards and three touchdowns. The best was his third quarter score to Terrance Williams. The ball was snapped over his head, but Griffin scooped it up, rolled to his left and threw across his body to Williams for an 11-yard touchdown that put Baylor up by 34 in the third quarter of its 55-7 win over Kansas. He also ran for 64 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

Rodney Stewart, RB, Colorado: The 5-foot-6, 175-pound running back they call "Speedy" averaged almost eight yards on his 19 carries, running for 149 yards and a touchdown in Colorado's 29-27 win over Georgia that put the Buffaloes at 3-1 heading into its conference opener against Missouri.

Dan Bailey, K, Oklahoma State: He should probably share his sticker with receiver Justin Blackmon (10 rec., 127 yards, TD) and Shaun Lewis, who set him up with an interception in the final minute, but Bailey banged home a 40-yard field goal as time expired to beat Texas A&M 38-35 on Thursday night.

Iowa State offensive line: The big boys, headlined by center Ben Lamaak and left tackle Kelechi Osemele, paved the way for a pair of 100-yard rushers -- running backs Shontrelle Johnson and Alexander Robinson -- and gave quarterback Austen Arnaud time to throw four touchdown passes in the Cyclones' 52-38 win over Texas Tech. Arnaud was sacked just twice, on the same possession with the Cyclones up 24-7 in the second quarter.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma: Murray ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns against rival Texas to help pace Oklahoma to a 28-20 win. Here's what I wrote about his day.