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Archive for Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Iowa State concentrating on Kansas

November 23, 2005

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— Iowa State is choosing Bill Murray and Chevy Chase over Joel Klatt and Zac Taylor for its on-the-road entertainment.

While the Cyclones are busing Friday to Kansas University for their regular-season finale the next day, Colorado will be playing host to Nebraska in a game that could decide the Big 12 North championship.

Iowa State could get a share of that championship and a berth in the conference title game if Colorado loses, but coach Dan McCarney and his players insist that's of no concern to them right now.

McCarney will have the TV monitors going on the bus ride, but they won't be watching to see if Taylor can win the QB battle with Klatt and lead Nebraska to an upset of the Buffaloes.

"I think 'Caddyshack' is going to be the movie of the day," McCarney said Tuesday.

"That'd be great," tight end Ben Barkema said with a smile. "I love that movie."

But wait. Wouldn't he rather be checking up on the Nebraska-Colorado game?

If Colorado loses and Iowa State beats Kansas, the Cyclones (7-3, 4-3 Big 12) would share the North title with Colorado and go to Big 12 championship game against Texas in Houston. If Colorado wins, the Buffaloes win the division outright and get the championship berth.

So there's a lot at stake for Iowa State even before the Cyclones play.

"If everything worked out, that would be great," Barkema said. "But we're just thinking about Kansas right now and trying to get our eighth win."

As for Colorado-Nebraska, "We're not even thinking about that game," he said. "That's in the back of our minds."

By Friday afternoon, though, someone is bound to get curious. Center Scott Stephenson can hook up to the Internet with his cell phone, and he'll have it along - just in case. Plus, there's always TV.

"We're sitting in the hotel all night. We've got to watch ESPN," Stephenson said. "I guess we'll find out then. But it has no influence on how we're going to play this weekend. We're going to come out as hard as we can."

Iowa State was in this same situation last year.

After Nebraska lost to Colorado on the Friday after Thanksgiving, all Iowa State had to do the next day was beat slumping Missouri at home to win the North and advance to the championship game for the first time. But the Cyclones lost, 17-14 in overtime, and Colorado went instead.

Getting to the Big 12 title game would be another major step in the turnaround McCarney has engineered at Iowa State, which did not have a winning season in the 1990s but will be going to a bowl game for the fifth time in six years.

"We'd all love to," McCarney said. "There's 12 teams. Only two can go - getting a chance to play in that game, getting a chance to play in the upper tier of bowl games.

"But the bottom line is, just continue to build the tradition, the consistency in this program. And at the end of the season, I want the Iowa State fans proud of the Iowa State football program."

Iowa State has gotten to this point with a four-game winning streak after starting 0-3 in the Big 12. The Cyclones' closest game in that stretch was a 30-16 victory Nov. 12 over Colorado. They won each of the others by four touchdowns.

The losing streak included an overtime loss at Missouri and a double-overtime loss at Nebraska. The Cyclones also lost a turnover-marred game at home to Baylor.

"We knew we could play a lot better against Baylor and against Missouri and Nebraska," said quarterback Bret Meyer, who has thrown 132 straight passes without an interception.

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