STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma State faced the question that was hanging over its head going into the conference season: what happens when a good defense stacks the line of scrimmage to stop the run?
The No. 25 Cowboys' answer: they won despite an off-night rushing as the defense again produced timely turnovers that gave the offense a short field for its scoring drives.
Vernand Morency rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns in his sixth straight 100-yard game as Oklahoma State (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) forced four fumbles to defeat Iowa State 36-7 Saturday.
``I would have liked to have played better across the board,'' Cowboys coach Les Miles said. ``Still, we have put ourselves in a good position to go play a very good opponent in Colorado.''
Oklahoma State won its first three games behind a bruising running game averaging 334 yards as redshirt freshman quarterback Donovan Woods struggled to produce through the air.
Neither UCLA, Tulsa nor Southern Methodist provided a stiff challenge for Morency and the Cowboys' experienced offensive line, so questions surfaced about how the reliance on the run would work against stronger competition.
The Cyclones (2-2, 0-1), who came in 11th in the nation against the run, limited the Cowboys to 189 rushes on 55 carries. That's 145 yards below Oklahoma State's average total and 2.1 fewer yards per carry.
And Morency, who had 44 fewer yards than his average coming in, fell behind Texas' Cedric Benson in the nation's rushing leaders by 45 yards. Benson had 188 yards in the No. 5 Longhorns' 44-14 win over Baylor.
Oklahoma State sputtered particularly in the first half, gaining just 64 yards on 25 carries. But Morency got going in the third quarter, rushing for 65 yards and a TD on 11 carries in the period.
``There were a lot of times when we tried to get 11 (defenders) and swarm the ball to slow (Morency) down,'' Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said. ``Nobody is going to stop him. I'd be shocked if anyone is able to.''
Woods didn't have a huge game passing _ 7-for-14 for 139 yards and a TD _ but he continued to connect with receivers for big plays.
Tight end Bill Bajema caught Woods' short bootleg pass and rambled 42 yards to the Iowa State 5 to set up Jason Ricks' 22-yard field goal to make it 3-0 early.
Woods lobbed a 45-yard pass to brother D'Juan Woods at the Cyclones' 11 in the third quarter, leading to Morency's 5-yard score that made it 29-7.
The Cowboys defense made up for whatever the offense didn't muster. Special teams did its part, too, with Prentiss Elliott's 32-yard punt return leading to a second quarter touchdown.
Jamie Thompson caused two fumbles and recovered another and the Cowboys got 17 points off the Cyclones' four fumbles, three of which were by quarterback Bret Meyer during sacks.
``We did what we had to do _ we got turnovers,'' Thompson said. ``That's what we're emphasizing this year.''
Cowboys' defenders sacked the Cyclones' quarterbacks eight times and held Iowa State to 57 yards rushing on 32 carries.
``I think our defense picked a great time to play its first great game of the season,'' said freshman defensive end Nathan Peterson, who had three sacks and caused a fumble.