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Updated: Tuesday, December 28, 2004 11:16 AM EST
NCAA FOOTBALL PREVIEW
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Miami Ohio (8-4) vs. Iowa St (6-5) Independence
MIAMI (OH) REDHAWKS
Miami (OH) Redhawks
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IOWA ST. CYCLONES
Iowa St. Cyclones
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SHREVEPORT, Louisiana (Ticker) -- Following a turnaround season, Iowa State returns to the Independence Bowl to face Miami of Ohio of the Mid-American Conference.

A 17-14 overtime loss to Missouri cost the Cyclones a berth in the Big 12 Conference championship game, but they still claimed a piece of the North Division title, marking the first time Iowa State shared a conference crown since 1912.

Coming off a 2-10 season, the Cyclones were picked to finish last in the Big 12 North and started 0-3 this year to extend their conference losing streak to 13 games.

But Iowa State (6-5) responded with four straight wins and earned its fourth bowl invitation in five years. Dan McCarney earned Big 12 Coach of the Year honors.

The Cyclones allowed just 146.4 yards per game on the ground, their lowest total since World War II.

Iowa State last played in the Independence Bowl in 2001, losing to Alabama, 14-13. In their last bowl appearance, the Cyclones fell to Boise State, 34-16, in the 2002 Humanitarian Bowl.

Josh Betts took over for Ben Roethlisberger this season and led Miami of Ohio (8-4) to its second straight MAC East Division title, but the RedHawks lost to Toledo, 35-27, in the MAC title game. Despite the loss, Miami of Ohio was one of a record five MAC teams to receive bowl bids.

Star receiver Michael Larkin, who was stabbed in a parking lot dispute on December 4, is expected to play the RedHawks. Larkin is Miami's career leader in receptions and has a caught a pass in an NCAA-record 49 straight games.

Miami defeated Louisville, 49-28, in last year's GMAC Bowl.


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