AMES - It just may be a good thing the annual clash between the Nebraska and Iowa State football teams is coming to an end.
Reliving and rehashing Saturday's contest for only a year until the Huskers and Cyclones met again wouldn't have done the overtime thriller justice.
As it stands now, neither fanbase will soon forget what could be the final chapter in the series.
The Cyclones narrowly missed out on knocking off the No. 9 Huskers when holder Daniel Kuehl's pass to tight end Collin Franklin was intercepted on a fake point-after attempt in overtime, allowing Nebraska to leave Jack Trice Stadium for perhaps the last time with a 31-30 victory.
Iowa State (5-5, 3-3) rallied with a 14-point fourth quarter to tie the score and force the game past regulation, and then moved within a point of the Huskers (8-1, 4-1) in overtime when quarterback Austen Arnaud's second touchdown pass of the day to Jake Williams matched Nebraska's Rex Burkhead's score earlier in the extra frame.
The fifth-year senior Kuehl, a former walk-on and the current backup punter, took the snap for the point-after from his holder's position, rolled left and threw against the wind. The pass was behind an open Franklin and landed in the hands of Nebraska's Eric Hagg to send the Huskers streaming on to the field from the sideline with a victory that gave them an 85-18-2 advantage in a series that figures to go dormant, if not extinct, with Nebraska's move to the Big Ten Conference next season.
"The play was there. Collin Franklin was wide open on the play, and we were not able to execute," said ISU head coach Paul Rhoads of the fake PAT. "We execute, game over, we're the ones running in the end zone celebrating."
"The play was there and had we executed I'd be having a heck of a smile on my face right now," he added.
After digging out of a 14-point hole, the Cyclones had three fourth-quarter possessions in which they could have tacked on a go-ahead score.
Their first attempt to take the lead ended with a three-and-out and the second with a 55-yard Grant Mahoney missed field goal, but it's the third and final possession that will undoubtedly be put under a microscope as Cyclone fans examine this last loss to their western neighbors.
With 40 seconds on the clock, the wind at his back, three time outs in his pocket and the ball on his own 20-yard line, Rhoads elected to have Arnaud take a knee, let the clock run out and go for the win in overtime instead of trying to end things in regulation.
Mahoney had made a 57-yard field goal with the wind earlier in the game, meaning ISU would have needed to travel about 40 yards to be in position for a potential game-winning kick.
"With that far to travel against one of the nation's top defenses which had already scored a defensive touchdown," said Rhoads, alluding to a third-quarter interception return, "too much risk in that."
Having lost electric starting quarterback Taylor Martinez to an ankle injury and second-stringer Zac Lee to an arm injury, the Huskers turned to Cody Green to direct the offense, though that most often meant handing off to Burkhead or Roy Helu, Jr.
Burkhead rushed 20 times, often taking direct snaps in the Wildcat formation, for 129 yards and two touchdowns and Helu, Jr. tallied 99 yards on 22 totes while Green attempted just 12 passes, completing seven for 79 yards.
"Our gameplan didn't really alter with (Martinez) not playing," said Rhoads, whose team remains one win shy of bowl eligibility.
The Cyclones outgained the Huskers 360-316, had nine more first downs (24-15) than their guests and held a slight time of possession advantage.
Nebraska erased a three-point halftime deficit with a field goal on its opening possession on the other side of intermission and then took a 14-point lead after a pair of Arnaud interceptions, the first being returned 29 yards by Austin Cassidy for a score and the second setting up an 11-play Nebraska scoring drive.
It was Arnaud though that engineered ISU's fourth-quarter comeback, leading the Cyclones on a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive early in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit in half.
Niles Paul's fumble on the ensuing kick return allowed Arnaud to then erase that deficit on a 14-yard touchdown pass to running back Alexander Robinson, who rushed for 101 yards on a career-high 32 carries on the afternoon.
The score would stay knotted until Burkhead's 19-yard run on the second play of overtime and Alex Henery's point-after, which proved to be the margin of victory after the Cyclones' failed two-point conversion.
"It was a good call," said Franklin of Rhoads' decision to fake. "I was pumped. I was ready to make it happen.
"Sometimes it doesn't turn out that way."
The way it did turn out will leave plenty of room for second-guessing and debating.
And plenty of time in which to do it.