1:00 PM ET, November 27, 2004
Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
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 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.
"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 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 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."