The Cyclones had hope coming out of the locker rooms at intermission. Despite a rash of injuries, they had sliced a 28-7 deficit to Oklahoma State into a 28-20 one and would have their wind at the backs in the third quarter.
As the final score of 58-21 suggests, visions of an upset were merely a mirage.
The Cowboys tacked on 17 points over a series of demoralizing plays in the third quarter, sending a fraction of the Jack Trice crowd to the exits with each blow. Desmond Roland ripped off a 58-yard rushing touchdown, breaking four touchdowns along the way. On Iowa State's next series, tight end Ernst Brun was stripped while trying for a first down, the ball recovered by Tyler Johnson and returned 54 yards for a score.
Just like that, 45-20, the game beginning to slip out of Iowa State's grasp.
Grant Rohach, in for an injured Sam Richardson, fumbled in the shadow of his own end zone in the fourth quarter, and a few plays later Roland punched in another touchdown.
Just like that, 52-20, the Cyclones headed toward a second straight embarrassing defeat and their fourth loss in a row. Iowa State has to win its final five games to qualify for a bowl game.
Iowa State brought in a share of feasible excuses for its matchup against No. 19 Oklahoma State (6-1). The same bunch had yet to start an offensive line, Richardson had been hobbled last year, a brutal schedule to begin conference play.
Yet the Cyclones hung tough in the first half, withstanding in-game injuries to key players — Richardson, tight end E.J. Bibbs and receiver Jarvis West — while also dealing with the losses of Aaron Wimberly, Luke Knott and Willie Scott, starters who did not see game action, presumably because of injury.
This wasn't like last Saturday in Waco, where the Cyclones stood no chance. They out-gained Oklahoma State in the first half, benefiting from several errant passes out the hand of quarterback Clint Chelf.
Chelf threw an interception to begin the third quarter, misreading coverage and lofting a ball toward the end zone, where freshman cornerback Nigel Tribune waited. Tribune slipped down at the one, however, and the Cyclones were lucky to avoid a safety on the ensuing series, gaining a total of three yards.
Gains of 14 and 17 by Roland helped the Cowboys to a field goal. Three futile Iowa State plays later, and Roland was on his way, picking up a nine yards — his average for the day — and then pinballing for 58 more.
A surprise starter over Jeremy Smith, Roland gained 219 yards and scored four touchdowns on 26 carries. He came into the game with 147 yards on the season.
Jeff Woody punched in a short touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to make the score 52-27 but the Cowboys recovered the onside kick and returned it to the 15-yard line, scoring four plays later on a Jeremy Smith run.
In the first quarter, the Cowboys reeled off a quick 14 points before five minutes on a long scoring drive and a Justin Giblert pick-six off ISU quarterback Richardson, then took a 21-0 lead on a Chelf pass to Charlie Moore.
Iowa State woke up Jack Trice Stadium with a Richardson touchdown pass to Quenton Bundrage — a 22-yard backshoulder fade — and has looked in-sync since then, giving up another touchdown but scoring twice more: a somersault flip over the pylon by DeVondrick Nealy and juggling catch made by Bundrage in the corner of the end zone.
Grant Rohach provided the last touchdown pass, one of his three completions in relief of Richardson, who was crunched from behind while he slid and was administered a concussion test on the sideline. Rohach, the redshirt freshman from California, led the Cyclones on an 11-play, 54-yard drive on his first series, with Jeff Woody converting a fourth-and-one to keep the drive alive.
Rohach finished 12-for-23 with 97 yards and a touchdown. Richardson was 6-for-15 with 96 yards and a touchdown.
Sophomore wideout Quenton Bundrage's two touchdowns gave him six on the season, tied for 10th most in school history. Bundrage has two games with two or more scores.
Tight end E.J. Bibbs has three receptions for 53 yards but went to the sideline midway through the second quarter with what looked to be a thigh injury and has stayed on the bench since then.
Wimberly, injured two weeks ago against Texas Tech, hasn't seen any game action. Redshirt freshman Luke Knott hasn't played — his brother, Jake, tweeted he was injured — and starting left end Willie Scott is in sweats on the sideline.
Chelf got the start for Oklahoma State over J.W. Walsh and went 10-for-26 with a touchdown and an interception.