STILLWATER - Saturday couldn't possibly have gone much better for Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy.
After a 3-2 start, Gundy's Cowboys had piled up plenty of question marks about both the offense and the defense (mostly the defense). The Homecoming contest against Iowa State was a must-win if the Pokes wanted to go bowling and remain in the hunt to win a wide-open Big 12 conference.
Check, check, check and check.
The offense racked up 625 yards, the defense played by far its best game of the season, OSU is still right in the thick of the Big 12 race, and the cherry on top is that Gundy surpassed Pat Jones as the winningest football coach in the history of the school.
Groans filled Boone Pickens Stadium when the game's first play was a 35-yard pass by Iowa State, and the Cyclones easily covered the other 40 yards of the field to take a 7-0 lead three minutes into the game. It looked as if the defense that allowed 100 points in losses to Arizona and Texas was back. But the Cowboys didn't panic.
"We went back to the sidelines and (defensive coordinator Bill Young) got us on the headphones and told us, 'It's OK. Stay calm,'" junior safety Daytawion Lowe said. "We settled down and stuck to our assignments and played like we can. It's a big boost for us."
After allowing a field goal late in the first quarter, OSU shut out an Iowa State team that hung 37 on the Cowboys last season, ending the team's national championship aspirations. The Pokes also forced a pair of turnovers - an element that was crucial to the team's success last season but had been missing thus far in 2012.