STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- Iowa State keeps playing well enough to win games, and as a result the Cyclones are in good shape to qualify for their first bowl bid since 1978.
The opposite is true of Oklahoma State, and it showed up again in Saturday night's 33-26 loss to the Cyclones.
The Cowboys couldn't stand prosperity, committing big mistakes late in the game to waste an otherwise encouraging performance by an offense that has struggled.
"Really, I felt we could have won it," coach Bob Simmons said.
"But you can't make those kinds of, I guess, mental lapses down toward the end of the ball game."
Iowa State (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) played without its best tailback, but finished with a season-high 500 yards of offense. Michael Wagner, who entered the game with 66 yards on 23 carries, had 170 yards on 26 carries in place of Big 12 rushing leader Ennis Haywood.
Coach Dan McCarney, frustrated at the inconsistency of his regular placekicker, called on punter Carl Gomez to step in and the result was two big fourth-quarter field goals.
The Cyclones also came up with three turnovers in the final 18 minutes, which led to 13 points including the game-winning, 33-yard touchdown pass from Sage Rosenfels to Lane Danielsen with 18 seconds remaining.
"We had a lot of mistakes, but we also had a lot of huge plays," McCarney said. "When it comes down to the fourth quarter, we told our players there will be a lot of close games in the Big 12, and whoever wins the quarter has a good chance to win the game."
A 20-yard field goal by Gomez early in the fourth tied the score at 23. Four minutes later, after the Cyclones got a gift turnover, Gomez hit from 34 yards away for a 26-23 lead.
The drive began after a 20-yard fumble return by Jamarcus Powers. OSU receiver T.D. Bryant was headed upfield near the Iowa State 20 when the ball popped out of his hands right to Powers.
Oklahoma State tied it at 26 on a 34-yard field goal by Seth Condley with 2:41 remaining. The Cowboys then forced Iowa State to punt and took over with two minutes left.
On third and 22 from the 14, Aso Pogi threw a flanker screen to Jamaal Fobbs, who ran 47 yards to the Iowa State 39. But the Cowboys got penalized for too much celebration, and on the next play Pogi was intercepted.
"Going down to the wire, you have to be smart," Simmons said.
"Get up, hand the ball to the official and go about our business."
Rosenfels led the Cyclones from their 39 to the OSU 33 before hitting Danielsen on a slant pattern. Danielsen, who caught just one pass Saturday and has three receptions all year, went untouched to the end zone for the game winner.
"Those are the kind of plays that need to be made when it's all out on the line," McCarney said.
The 5-foot-7 Wagner made more than his share of plays. He scored three times and had seven carries of 10 yards or more.
"Haywood practiced all week but felt that he couldn't play tonight, so we decided to start Wagner," McCarney said. "He is a bigtime running back and looked like it today."
Pogi, like Wagner a redshirt freshman, looked good most of the time in his first start. He was 26 of 45 for an OSU freshman-record 328 yards and two touchdowns, and he scored once on the ground.
But while the offense played better, the defense continued to be hurt by big plays. Early in the Cyclones' final drive, Rosenfels was able to scramble for a first down on third-and-10.
Now the Cowboys (2-4, 0-3) have a week off to try to figure out how to end their four-game losing streak.
"You've got to understand this football team ... is tired of what's going on," Simmons said. "The whole thing is we're the ones that can do something about it. Obviously, tonight we could have done a lot about that had we not had some of the things that occurred."