For the final time in conference battles this season, Kansas State figured out a way to get it done. Farmageddon was closer than anyone would have wished for, but really what game hasn’t been that way this season? Nine victories of 2011 came by 7 points or less. It was the usual mix of gritty play, limited mistakes, and holding on for dear life and with the win the Wildcats completed their first 10-win season since 2003. The reward for their efforts is a trip to the Cotton Bowl to take on a tough Arkansas team who has only lost to the two teams playing for the BCS National Championship. Be watching for plenty of breakdown on that match-up over the next couple of weeks but until then, continue reading for the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Iowa State game.
Beast Guidry… Raphael has made it known that he is a force to be reckoned with. Not only did he have another blocked PAT, but just to rub it in he also picked of a tipped pass. Was the interception questionable? Absolutely! But in the end there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the call. Guidry’s interception was a big momentum shifter and the blocked PAT single handedly took points off of the board.
End of the first half drive… With Iowa State leading late in the 1st half, Mr. Klein got the ball back and had another chance to work his magic with a methodical, spirit killing drive. Klein took the Wildcats 62 yards in 7 plays for a touchdown and went into the locker leading. The best play came from 15 yards out as Klein hit John Hubert on a 14 yard pass. In an example of how well CK can throw the ball at times, the ball was placed in the perfect spot for Hubert to grab it and turn up-field. Had the ball been thrown on the outside shoulder, Hubert would have been led straight to the sideline for just a small gain. Beautiful pass that led to the most common sight in college football: Klein with the keeper for a TD!
Hello Hubert… The Cyclones actually did a decent job of bottling Klein in the game. Although CK did rush for 86 yards total, it took 26 carries and the long was only 15 yards. Teams have clearly figured out they have to key a couple guys on Klein which is why Hubert’s emergence over the past few games has been so important. John Hubert had a great game and is going to make Arkansas shift focus at least a little bit. His 120 yards on only 15 carries won the night and none was prettier than his longest of the night. With just over 3:30 left to play, Hubert took a handoff to the left side, threw an Iowa State defender to the ground with a vicious stiff arm, and kept his balance all the way into the end zone. It was an all-effort type of run that ended up being the game winner.
Clutch Cantele… Kicker Anthony Cantele has been huge for the Wildcats in the end of this season and proven that there doesn’t need to be a whole lot of anxiety when he takes the field to do his job. Kicks of 36, 47, and 19 were all sure and true and he deservedly earned Big 12 special teams player of the week honors yet again.
Missing Tackles… The defense has been extremely sound in their tackling all season long which has proven to be a major reason for the vast improvement. Against the Cyclones, that ability slipped a bit. All day long Iowa State ran through arm tackles and racked up yards after contact. The failure to wrap up led to plenty of first downs gained, big rushes, and put K-State in bad spots. It was a missed tackle on the fake punt by Iowa State that allowed them to continue the drive which eventually ended in a field goal tying the game at 23. It was also a missed tackle that allowed Iowa State RB Jeff Woody to scamper into the end zone to tie it up as well. That’s not been a problem too often and hopefully that’s the last anyone will see of it.
Flea Flicker Failure… It’s nit picky but Nigel Malone has to make a better play on the flea flicker that Iowa State ran early in the game for their first score. Malone (who has absolutely been a top player for K-State all year long) did a great job of not biting on the fake and stayed behind the receiver but when the ball floated he was unable to finish. Again, it’s nit picky, but with all the time that ball was in the air, Malone should have been able to make the necessary adjustment to at least knock it down. Instead, he remained on the back of the receiver and watched as the ball was pulled in for 6.
Kick Coverage… Iowa State was allowed to gain way too many yards with their kick return team. The worst part about it was that their return team wasn’t a unit to be concerned about coming into the game. The Wildcats allowed 174 yards on kick returns and thankfully none of those returns brought a touchdown. Fix it before the next one boys!
Final Read… The Cyclone’s final fourth down play of the game could have had a completely different outcome. That’s not earth shattering information but for all the good that Iowa State’s freshman QB Jared Barnett did, he missed the correct read completely on the final play. Here’s a picture of the critical decision making moment of the play.
At this point, all but one Wildcat defender had not totally committed to stuffing the inside run. K-State crashed hard, hard, hard down on what did end up being a give by Barnett to Woody but look at how much room to the right there would have been if Barnett held the ball and took it around the end. K-State commited way too early on the play and left themselves open to disaster if the right decision had been made. There was one purple jersey left between the speedy Barnett and pay dirt and he was pretty well sealed off by the wide receiver. A touchdown at that moment wouldn’t have won the game necessarily but K-State was one hand off away from playing another over time thriller. Phew.