AMES – Four years, four heartbreakers.
Kansas State continues to be a thorn in the side of Iowa State. On Saturday, the Cyclones nearly pulled an upset of the No. 6 Wildcats (6-0, 3-0), but Kansas State’s all-everything quarterback Collin Klein made sure that didn’t happen.
Behind its star, the Wildcats held off Iowa State (4-2, 1-2), 27-21, in front of the largest crowd in Jack Trice Stadium history.
“The sad thing is, it’s the fourth year in a row this game has been a game of missed opportunities,” running back Jeff Woody said. “The most impressive thing about them is not their six wins, it’s their zero losses. If you are going to beat Kansas Sate, you can’t beat yourself.”
The Cyclones couldn’t capitalize on numerous chances against the Wildcats. Twice in the final minutes, Iowa State had possession with a shot to win down six. How did those drives turn out?
Eight plays, 11 yards.
“It was a standard Kansas State football game, coached by a legendary coach and quarterbacked by a great, great football player,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.
Klein did most of the damage against the Cyclones on the soggy Saturday. The senior finished the game 16-of-24 passing for 187 yards. Klein added 105 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
On his final touchdown run of the day, Klein followed a familiar blueprint. The bruiser showed patience in the pocket until things broke down. He then evaded the Iowa State rush and broke outside for yardage and the score.
“He followed his blocks and sometimes even when there wasn’t a hole, he just waited it out,” linebacker Jeremiah George said. “He’s not a hard runner, he’s a tough runner.”
And an elusive one. When Iowa State seemed to have him bottled up, Klein kept finding ways to move the chains. The Wildcats went 9-of-18 on third and fourth down situations.
Even more impressive, Kansas State had possession for 40:54 and outgained Iowa State 364-231.
Still, Iowa State almost etched another name on its list of upset victims.
“In one world, it hurts,” linebacker Jake Knott said. “You train for that type of game. You work for that type of game. You put in all the time, and you just come up a hair short four years in a row.”
It felt like the Cyclones would knock off another ranked team early on. Jared Barnett found Shontrelle Johnson in the flat for a touchdown and 7-3 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
Later in the half, Barnett hit Ernst Brun down the left sideline for a TD and a 14-10 advantage.
Unfortunately for Iowa State, the lack of a consistent rushing attack limited Barnett’s effectiveness on Saturday. The Cyclones tallied only 65 yards on the ground on 24 attempts. The absence of leading rusher James White – who was injured in practice this week – didn’t help matters.
“Any time you can’t run the football, it hurts your offense,” Rhoads said.
A solid defensive effort by Iowa State kept the game close. The Cyclones trailed 27-21 when they took over on their 39-yard line with 4:17 left in the game. Barnett couldn’t connect on three of the next four plays, including a missed throw on third down where it appeared Johnson had plenty of running room down the right sideline.
“(Johnson) was wide open out there by himself,” Barnett said. “I should have put it on his chest and allowed him to get up field.”
Iowa State also failed to move the ball on its last drive. Backed up against their own end zone, the Cyclones gained just six yards before turning the ball back over to the Wildcats.
Barnett completed just 1-of-7 passes on the last two possessions. He finished the game 16-of-36 passing for 166 yards and an interception.
“I thought (Barnett) played well enough for us to win the football game,” Rhoads said. “He led us to 21 points, which is above what they are giving up. And with two plus minutes on the clock, we had the ball with a chance to win it. That’s what you want your quarterback to do.”
The Wildcats just refused to let Iowa State make the one big play it needed.
Quarterback Jared Barnett on the loss
“It’s upsetting. Everyone in the locker room knew we were going to win this game. We came in with a really hard focus, just knowing what our job was and be ready for a K-State team that was going to come in here and play all four quarters extremely hard. We just didn’t respond to their intensity at the end of the game.”
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads on Kansas State’s Collin Klein
“Klein is an efficient passer. You look at his numbers and he is an efficient passer.”
Jake Knott on the record setting crows at Jack Trice Stadium. Official attendance on Saturday was 56,800.
“The crowd was great. They were into the game the whole time. They were extremely loud. The crowd made them use up all their timeouts in the first half. That was huge.”
– Jake Knott finished with 13 tackles on Saturday to move into 11thplace all-time in Iowa State history with 325 tackles.
– A.J. Klein wasn’t far behind his teammate with 11 stops of his own.
– Ernst Brun became the first tight end since 1976 to record four or more touchdown receptions in the same season.
– Aaron Horned led the Cyclones with seven catches for 84 yards.
– Shontrelle Johnson had only 17 yards rushing on Saturday, but he did add the first touchdown reception of his career.
– The Wildcats’ John Hubert notched 79 rushing on 22 attempts.
– After his big game in Iowa State’s win at TCU, Josh Lenz didn’t catch a pass on Saturday against Kansas State.
– Jake McDonough struggled with the Wildcats’ snap count, jumping offside three times in the game.
– The Cyclones were flagged for eight penalties for 82 yards.