AMES — Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder penned Saturday’s script.
His quarterback, Collin Klein, served as the rugged star.
“It reads like a Bill Snyder-authored novel,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said after scanning the telling numbers related to his team’s 27-21 Big 12 loss to the Wildcats at sold-out Jack Trice Stadium. “Standard Kansas State football game coached by a legendary coach and quarterbacked by a great, great football player.”
The 6-5, 226-pound Klein — who rushed for 105 yards and three touchdowns — might as well be Snyder’s ghost writer.
And the book’s title would be, “Patience.”
Klein showcased that trademark trait throughout the fifth-ranked Wildcats’ portrait of survival against the upstart No. 25 Cyclones (4-2, 1-2).
“Sometimes when there wasn’t even a hole he’d just wait it out,” said ISU linebacker Jeremiah George, who notched nine tackles, including one for loss. “He’s not a hard runner but a tough runner. He’s just going to wait and find maybe five yards and wait until people get on top of him.”
But despite Klein’s heroics — he also threw for 187 yards — the Cyclones were left with two potential go-ahead drives in the final 4:17.
Both ended in fourth-down stops shy of midfield, to the consternation of the record crowd of 56,800 that stayed mostly until the end.
“There were a lot of plays left on the field,” said ISU quarterback Jared Barnett, who completed 8-of-21 passes in the second half.
One stood out late.
On third and four at his own 46-yard line with about three in a half minutes left, Barnett overshot running back Shontrelle Johnson at the K-State 40.
Lots of open field appeared in front of him.
Instead, Barnett misfired on the subsequent fourth down pass and the Wildcats took over.
“He was wide open, by himself,” said Barnett, who threw for 166 yards, two touchdowns and one red-zone interception in the second quarter immediately after a special teams takeaway. “I should have put it in his chest.”
Failure to convert meant chances for clock-chewing for the methodical Wildcats (6-0, 3-0).
K-State possessed the ball 40:54 to ISU’s 19:06 and amassed a rushing yardage advantage of 177-65.
“There were a couple times we felt we had it rolling and then all of a sudden we kicked ourselves in the butt,” said Cyclone running back Jeff Woody, whose two-yard touchdown with 12:34 left pulled his team within 24-21. “It’s exactly what Kansas State’s M.O. is. They’re not going to beat you. They’re going to wait for you to beat you.”
The Wildcats also converted seven of 12 second-half third downs against the Big 12’s top third-down defense — after being thwarted on four of five in the first half.
Add it up and it’s the Cyclones’ fifth straight loss in the series of eight or fewer points.
“In one word, it hurts,” said ISU linebacker Jake Knott, who had a game-high 13 tackles and increased his career total to 325. “You go out there and train for that type of game, you work for that type of game, you put in all the time and you seem to come up just a hair short (five) times in a row.”
All of that’s in Snyder’s decades-old script.
Klein never stumbles over his lines.
As for the straight-talking Barnett, who starred in last week’s win over then-No. 15 TCU ...“Knowing the plays I left on the field personally, I probably won’t get any sleep tonight,” he said.