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Roland Right Along: Cowboys Pummel Cyclones In Ames

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AMES, Iowa -

Oklahoma State's offensive struggles have been a sore subject this season, particularly in the run game, prompting the coaching staff to shuffle a few things in the backfield prior to Saturday's game at Iowa State. 

And one of the two major decisions worked out beautifully.

The most notable of the switches made by the coaches was giving Clint Chelf his first start since the season opener, but did he did nothing to cement that status in Ames, passing for just 78 yards on 10-of-26 attempts.

But the other alteration in the staring backfield went better than expected – way better.

Desmond Roland earned his first-career start at and made the most of the opportunity and then some, guiding No. 19 OSU to a decisive 58-27 victory against Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium.

Roland carved the Cyclone defense to the tune of 219 yards on 8.4 yards per carry with four touchdowns, becoming the first Cowboy runner to eclipse the 200-yard mark since Kendall Hunter rumbled for 201 against Nebraska in 2010.

And the Dallas native accomplished it in about every way possible, running past, over and through ISU defenders.

It was a welcomed change for a ground game that entered Saturday's contest ranked 97th nationally, averaging just136.5 yards a game on 3.9 yards per carry. In fact, Roland's breakout 219-yard outing flirted with matching starting running back Jeremy Smith's season total of 247.

Fittingly, the junior running back got the Cowboys on the board first with a 2-yard touchdown drive that sparked an impressive stretch for the Pokes in the first quarter.

On the ensuing possession, Justin Gilbert jumped an errant Sam Richardson pass to the sideline and bolted into the end zone for a 31-yard interception return.

After forcing a three-and-out, the Cowboys (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) marched 43 yards in seven plays, capping the drive with an acrobatic 8-yard TD snag by Charlie Moore on a fade.

And just like that, OU had three touchdowns on the board before Iowa State (1-6, 0-4) had recorded a first down. It looked like the rout was on, but that wasn't the case – at least not yet.

ISU responded with 22-yard touchdown strike from Richardson to DeVondrick Nealy to cut the lead to 21-7 on the next drive.

Oklahoma State fired back quickly with a five-play drive that spanned the end of the first quarter and the first few seconds of the second as Roland bowled across the goal line for his second score of the day to regain a three-touchdown advantage.

But as the quarter changed, so did OSU's side of the field, which caused major issues for the offense heading into swirling winds. Chelf couldn't figure out how to fight the breeze, completing just two passes for six yards in the second as the Cyclones roared back with a pair of touchdowns, one of which saw the extra point blocked, to steal back the momentum at home heading into the locker room down 28-20.

But just when it looked like history might be repeating itself, Oklahoma State came out in the third quarter and took complete command of the contest.

The third-period dominance started off slowly, as an interception on a miscommunication ended the Cowboys first drive inside scoring position, but that would be the last of the bad news for OSU.

After the interception, OSU forced the Cyclones into a three-and-out and responded with a nine-play, 53-yard drive that was capped with a Ben Grogan field to reclaim a two-score lead.

Another three-and-out gave the Pokes the ball back at the 33-yard line and Roland took over. On first down, Roland slashed his way for nine yards. And on the next play, Roland took the hand off and made a defender miss.

And then another defender. And another. And one more, as he rumbled through the defense and up the right side for a 58-yard touchdown that, even on a windy day, seemed to suck the air out of the stadium.

And just when it looked like things were about to spiral out of control for the Cyclones, they did.

Backup quarterback Grant Rohach connected with Ernst Brun for five yards but OSU linebacker Joe Mitchell stripped the ball and defensive end Tyler Johnson scooped it off the turf, going the distance for a 54-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 45-20 with four minutes left in the quarter and sending fans to the exits.

With its back against the wall on the road, Oklahoma State scored 17 unanswered points in the third and allowed just 28 yards of offense.

OSU would score two more touchdowns on the ground in the final quarter, starting off with a Roland 3-yard dive and finished off with a 1-yard punch by Jeremy Smith with five minutes remaining.

The Cowboys success on the ground and opportunistic defense, which scored two touchdowns on its three forced turnovers, helped take pressure off a nonexistent passing game.

Chelf got the nod to start under center against ISU after taking over for a struggling Walsh in last week's win against TCU. But even in relief of Walsh, Chelf connected on just 10-of-25 passes for 178 yards with an interception.

Saturday was even worse, as the senior completed just 10-of-26 passes for 78 yards with a score and another pick, leaving the quarterback role still very much in flux.

But for what Chelf lacked through the air, he did his best to make up for it on the ground, contributing to OSU's rushing heyday with 85 yards on 9.4 yards per carry.

The Cowboys out-gained Iowa State 420-to-346 in total yards and the 31-point loss for the Cyclones added further salt into the wound for a team that has four-straight games and was coming off a 71-7 defeat at Baylor.

OSU, on the other hand, won its third-consecutive game and will face Texas Tech next Saturday in Lubbock. The 10th-ranked Red Raider suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday, falling at Oklahoma 38-30. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

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