Once again, Jeff Woody barreled into the north end zone at Jack Trice Stadium for a late touchdown against Oklahoma State.
Only this time, the stands were nearly empty and Woody’s score meant absolutely nothing in a game the 19th-ranked Cowboys dominated from the start in winning 58-27 on Saturday.
Woody’s short touchdown run on the same end of the field against Oklahoma State two years ago gave the Cyclones a stunning overtime victory that ruined the Cowboys’ BCS championship hopes.
This bunch of Cowboys ensured there would be no repeat, racing to a 21-0 lead, then pulling away in the second half after Iowa State threatened to make it a game.
They did it with a ground-gobbling running game led by Desmond Roland, who rambled for a career-high 219 yards and four touchdowns. Quarterback Clint Chelf added 85 yards rushing to the team’s season-high total of 342.
"We knew that once they got in a specific package that they were going to try to run the ball," Iowa State linebacker Jeremiah George said. "We just didn’t do a good enough job to stop it."
Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) scored 14 points in a 2-minute stretch late in the third quarter to extend its lead to 45-20. Roland ran 58 yards for his third touchdown of the day on a play that left him so in the clear that the trotted the final 10 yards, and Tyler Johnson took a fumble 54 yards for a TD.
Sam Richardson had 95 yards passing and a touchdown for Iowa State (1-6, 0-4) before leaving the game late in the first half after an apparent blow to the head. Coach Paul Rhoads said Richardson seemed OK and should be able to return to practice on Sunday.
It was yet another in a long list of injuries that have bedeviled the Cyclones, who began the second half with seven starters missing. That group included linebacker Luke Knott (hip) and running back Aaron Wimberly (hamstring).
Wimberly’s absence slowed an offense that managed only 4 yards on its first four possessions.
"You lose a step of speed when he’s not available," Rhoads said. "Your ability to make plays isn’t as strong without him."
After a blistering start, Oklahoma State let Iowa State sneak back into the game by halftime. But the Cowboys blew past the hapless Cyclones with a dominant third quarter.
Roland broke at least four tackles during his 58-yard TD run, the longest of his career, to put Oklahoma State up 38-20.
Cowboys linebacker Joe Mitchell then stripped Ernst Brun, and Johnson deftly maneuvered through a crowd of Cyclones and found the pylon for a back-breaking score. OSU also got a defensive touchdown in the first half on Justin Gilbert’s 31-yard interception return.
"When you play an opponent like that, you can’t give them things," Rhoads said. "You can’t make mistakes, you can’t turn the ball over, you can’t have foolish penalties. We had way too much of that in 60 minutes to give ourselves an opportunity to win."
Chelf, who got the starting nod over J.W. Walsh, was just 10 of 26 passing for 78 yards. But his running made up for any inconsistency in the passing game. The Cowboys ran for 179 yards in the third quarter alone.
So was OSU that good or was the ISU defense that sloppy?
"Our job is to stop it, so I put all the blame on us," George said. "I have nothing but respect for those guys over there, but our job as a defense is to be in the correct spot and be in the correct gap and make the tackle and we didn’t do that enough."
Since a 31-30 loss to Texas in game the Cyclones felt was taken from them by a controversial call, the Cyclones have been outscored 171-69, including a 71-7 thumping at No. 6 Baylor a week ago. The Cowboys made the Cyclones look just as bad in the first 10 minutes.
Roland opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run, and Gilbert made it 14-0 with his interception return off Richardson. Oklahoma State pushed its lead to 21-0 on an 8-yard TD pass from Chelf to Charlie Moore midway through the first quarter.
To that point, Iowa State had given up an astounding 92 points in the 69:15 dating back to the start of the Baylor game.
But instead of burying the Cyclones, the Cowboys allowed them to climb right back into it.
Quenton Bundrage caught TD passes of 22 and 20 yards — the first from Richardson, the second from backup Grant Rohach — to help Iowa State pull within 28-20 by halftime.
But Richardson and Rohach combined to complete just 18 of 38 passes, and Iowa State lost for the sixth straight time at home, the longest such skid since dropping seven in a row in 1993-94.
"You wish the learning curve was over and that we could accomplish things on offense," said Rohach, a redshirt freshman. "Bad throws will consistently ruin drives and ultimately lose you the game."