AMES — Verbal exchanges during the stampede out of Jack Trice Stadium’s north stands said it all Saturday night.
“Go Big Red!” shouted a Nebraska fan. “Yeah, go! Go … home!” responded an Iowa State supporter.
With that, Iowa State and Nebraska’s Big 12 rivalry came to a close, due to the Huskers’ pending departure for the Big Ten.
But Nebraska’s 31-30 overtime triumph could have a trickle-down effect felt around Ames for weeks. After all, that gut-wrenching loss could end up costing Iowa State (5-5) a bowl appearance.
As is often the case in key, late-season games, coaching decisions are dissected and put under the microscope on Saturday night’s postgame radio call-in shows.
And, for the first legitimate time of his head-coaching career, Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads was second-guessed.
By now you probably saw Iowa State’s crucial overtime incompletion, a fake extra-point pass attempt from holder Daniel Kuehl to end Collin Franklin which was intercepted, sealing the Cyclones’ fate.
Rhoads’ decision to go for two points was largely lauded by fans. But the play design was called into question, as Kuehl — whose main position is punter — was asked to throw a touch pass with the game on the line.
“I made the call. The play was there,” said Rhoads.
The fake extra-point pass wasn’t Rhoads’ only decision that backfired Saturday. With 40 seconds left in regulation, Iowa State regained possession with all three timeouts and a stiff breeze at its back, yet Rhoads decided to play for overtime.
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“Too much risk,” Rhoads explained.
Now, making a bowl game might be a risky proposition for Iowa State (5-5 overall, 3-3 Big 12), which visits Colorado (3-6, 0-5) this Saturday.
Ten Big 12 teams are still very much alive for bowl games and seven league members have already won the six games necessary for bowl qualification. This season, the Big 12 has guaranteed tie-ins with seven bowl games (not including BCS games). Seventy total Football Bowl Subdivision teams will make bowl appearances this season, two more teams than last season.
Here’s a look at the remaining schedules for the Big 12 teams who’ll be fighting for the league’s final bowl slots:
• Iowa State (5-5): at Colorado; versus Missouri.
• Texas Tech (5-4): at Oklahoma; versus Weber State; versus Houston.
• Texas (4-5): versus Oklahoma State; versus Florida Atlantic; versus Texas A&M.
Clearly, Rhoads’ roll of the dice late Saturday against Nebraska could prove costly.
“It was a good call,” Franklin said of the faked extra-point. “We just didn’t execute.”