AMES, Iowa (AP) _ One thing has led to another for Oklahoma State this year.
The Cowboys will be getting along just fine and then they'll make a mistake or fumble. Then they'll fumble again, the opponent capitalizes and Oklahoma State is on its way to another loss.
``Turnovers have absolutely killed them,'' Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said.
OSU coach Les Miles would agree. It's a trend he hopes to reverse when the Cowboys (2-4, 0-3 Big 12) play at Iowa State (4-1, 2-1) on Saturday.
Oklahoma State is last in the Big 12 in turnover margin, losing 12 fumbles and throwing three interceptions. The Cowboys have gained only nine turnovers in return.
``We are underplaying our ability,'' Miles said. ``Obviously, turnovers have a lot to do with that. I believe that we have a potentially good football team and we have to reach that potential.
``I think this team maintains the desire to be a good football team and we have another opportunity to prove this on Saturday.''
A 45-17 loss to No. 9 Texas last Saturday illustrated how turnovers have led to OSU's undoing.
Oklahoma State was leading 10-0 when an interception led to the first Texas touchdown. The Longhorns converted a fumble into a field goal and turned a muffed kickoff into a touchdown just before halftime. Just like that it was 31-10 and the Longhorns were on their way.
The Cowboys have outscored their opponents 37-14 in the first quarter but have been outscored 133-88 after that.
``It's hard,'' offensive guard Jeff Machado said. ``The last two games we have held leads in the first quarter. Then we shut down in some areas and lose all of the momentum that we had. It will probably take a good two quarters before people really have confidence in themselves.''
Along with trying to hold on to the ball, Oklahoma State must deal with a versatile Iowa State offense. ISU tailback Ennis Haywood is second in the Big 12 in rushing and quarterback Seneca Wallace, a threat as a runner and as a passer, is second in total offense.
The Cyclones often spread the field with three or four receivers and they'll use those receivers to run reverses.
``Dan McCarney is a good coach and he is doing the right things,'' Miles said. ``They have a quarterback that has some talent and a running back that can move the football and break tackles.''
Miles has noticed something else about the Cyclones.
``They do not turn the football over,'' he said.
Iowa State leads the Big 12 in turnover margin. The Cyclones have lost only one fumble this year and that came in a 45-0 victory.
OSU averages just 291.5 yards a game _ 11th in the league _ but quarterback Aso Pogi has been effective at times. He has completed 63 percent of his passes for 1,105 yards and six touchdowns. Pogi threw for 328 yards in a 33-26 loss to Iowa State last year.
``He's a real good quarterback,'' ISU cornerback Harold Clewis said. ``He's quick, he can scramble. I remember seeing him last year and he was doing a real good job against our defense. He's going to be a force we're going to have to deal with.''