AMES, Iowa (AP) -- The only thing stronger than the wind howling
through Jack Trice Stadium was Iowa State's defense in the second
Steve Paris, Brent Curvey and Tim Dobbins each made huge
defensive plays to help Iowa State stay in the running for a share
of the Big 12 North championship with a 30-16 victory over No. 22
Colorado on Saturday night.
Paris returned a fumble 66 yards for a touchdown after Dobbins
knocked the ball loose and Curvey, a 305-pound defensive tackle,
rumbled 66 yards for a TD with an interception to secure the
Cyclones' fourth straight victory and prevent Colorado from
clinching the division title.
"If we didn't have [Paris] and Curvey make those plays, it's
overtime and we're still playing," ISU quarterback Bret Meyer
Iowa State (7-3, 4-3 Big 12), which shared the division crown
with Colorado last year, can tie for this year's title if it beats
Kansas on Nov. 26 and Colorado (7-3, 5-2) loses to Nebraska the day
before. Colorado clinches the championship if it wins, regardless
of what anyone else does.
Missouri (6-4, 4-3) would have a chance to gain a title share if
it wins at Kansas State next Saturday. A three-way tie sends
Missouri to the Big 12 championship game in Houston on Dec. 3. An
Iowa State-Colorado tie sends Iowa State.
"We know some things have to go our way," Curvey said. "We
know we just have to keep playing and keep playing."
Colorado has to do the same.
"So many things were out there for us," Colorado coach Gary
Barnett said. "The ring was out there. We just missed it."
The Buffaloes certainly had their chances.
With Iowa State leading 23-16, Colorado appeared on its way to
the tying touchdown, moving from its own 11 to the Iowa State 27 in
the final minutes. Seconds later, the Cyclones were in control.
On first down, Iowa State's Jason Berryman pressured Joel Klatt
on a screen pass and Klatt threw right to Curvey, who returned two
fumbles for touchdowns last year.
Curvey had a clear path to the end zone and got a block from
Paris to free him for the final 20 yards, scoring with 1:31 left.
"I kind of read it," Curvey said. "They kind of released me,
so I knew something was up. I just dropped back and he threw it
right to me."
Berryman's sack of Klatt on fourth down with 58 seconds left
ended Colorado's final hope on a night that began with tornado
sirens sounding an hour before kickoff.
The field, stands and press box were cleared, but no damaging
storms moved through the area, though the start of the game was
delayed 30 minutes.
"It was Cyclone weather," Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said.
"We told our players not to flinch. Handle the distraction."
Once it was under way, Iowa State took advantage of a wind that
gusted up to 45 mph to build a 13-0 lead, then pulled away again
after Colorado tied it early in the third quarter to give McCarney
his third victory in 37 games against ranked opponents.
"We did a great job with the wind," McCarney said. "We knew
it wouldn't be enough to win the football game because Colorado is
so talented and so explosive. But it was so important to get off to
a good start in this game."
Iowa State was clinging to a 16-13 lead when Colorado's Lorenzo
Sims recovered a Cyclones' fumble at the ISU 34 with 44 seconds
left in the third quarter. On the next play, Dobbins stripped the
ball from Lawrence Vickers, Paris picked it up at the 34 and ran
unimpeded to the end zone, putting the Cyclones up 23-13.
"Going into a game like this against a defense as good as that
it is ... you don't just turn the ball over, both turnovers result
in scores," Barnett said. "That's the bottom line. The difference
in this game would be who turned the ball over. That team would
lose and that's just what happened."
Mason Crosby's third field goal, a 57-yarder with the wind at
his back, drew Colorado to 23-16 with 11:25 remaining. Then it was
left to Iowa State's defense and that unit did its job.
The Cyclones first stopped Colorado on downs near midfield, then
got the huge pick by Curvey on the Buffaloes' next possession.
"We knew it was on our shoulders," Curvey said. "We knew what
we had to do. We had to get a stop and we did."
Iowa State's Bret Culbertson kicked field goals of 23, 30 and a
career-best 45 yards, the last one giving the Cyclones their 16-13
lead. Meyer set up each of those kicks with completions to Todd
Blythe and finished 20-of-38 for 251 yards, including a 27-yarder
to Ben Barkema for a touchdown.
Klatt had Colorado moving most of the night, but the Buffaloes
got into the end zone only once, on Hugh Charles' 1-yard run early
in the second quarter. Klatt went 25-for-42 for 284 yards with two
The first interception also was costly -- a pick by Dobbins at
his own 4 to protect the Cyclones' three-point lead in the third