STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ The Oklahoma State ground attack didn't produce its usual 300 yards, but the Cowboys' defense made sure a huge output wasn't needed.
Vernand Morency rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns _ his sixth straight 100-yard game _ as No. 25 Oklahoma State defeated Iowa State 36-7 Saturday.
``Offensively, it was a sputtering, non-ideal game plan or performance,'' Oklahoma State coach Les Miles said. ``Certainly, what I enjoyed about it was that this football team understood that they were sputtering and had done some things poorly and they rebounded.''
The Cowboys, plus-13 in turnover margin this season, forced four Cyclones fumbles and used stingy defense to set up short scoring drives as they improved to 4-0 for the first time since 1997.
Jamie Thompson caused two fumbles and recovered another for Oklahoma State (1-0 Big 12). The Cowboys, who led 23-0 at halftime, held the Cyclones (2-2, 0-1) to just 59 yards rushing on 37 carries.
``I thought our defense set the tone,'' Miles said. ``I think they really improved in the off week.''
Morency, held to 35 yards in the first half, rushed for 65 in the third quarter and scored from the 5 to make it 29-7. Morency added a 3-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.
Morency, the nation's leading rusher coming in with 187 yards per game, fell behind Texas' Cedric Benson by 45 yards. Benson had 188 yards in the No. 5 Longhorns' 44-14 win over Baylor.
Oklahoma State, with the nation's fourth-best rushing attack entering the contest, struggled to run the ball in the first half, gaining just 64 yards as the Cyclones put eight and nine men near the line of scrimmage.
But the Cowboys' ground game, which averaged 334 yards per game coming in, improved in the second half and finished with 189 yards rushing on 55 carries as they ended a two-game losing streak to Iowa State.
Jason Ricks made first-half field goals from 39, 29 and 22 yards, but missed his first off the season, a 44-yarder in the third quarter.
``You can't make some of the mistakes we made today and expect to have any chance to win a Big 12 football game,'' Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said. ``You can't fumble four times, regardless of the reasons.''
Todd Blythe caught Bret Meyer's 9-yard lob between two Cowboys for a third quarter TD for Iowa State. Meyer was 10 of 16 for 129 yards, but he fumbled three times as he was hit while trying to pass.
Stevie Hicks rushed for 81 yards on 21 carries for Iowa State, which had not fumbled all season. The Cyclones' placekicking troubles continued, as Brian Jansen missed a 39-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter.
``Our defense really came out and played well,'' Meyer said. ``We had four turnovers on offense and special teams, and when you turn the ball over against these guys you are not going to win.''