AMES -- The Iowa State Cyclones insist Saturday's 49-27 loss to Nebraska will make them stronger, not weaker.
They're disappointed, but determined.
"That game does a lot of things for us," ISU quarterback Sage Rosenfels said after passing for a career-high 346 yards. "It gives us confidence that we played right down to the wire with the best team in the country."
The Cornhuskers (5-0, 2-0) took control with four touchdowns in the fourth quarter, finally putting ISU away.
It was anyone's game for three quarters, though. Nebraska owned a slight lead in points (21-20), first downs (12-11) and total yards (316-283) entering the last 15 minutes.
"I never felt like we were being outclassed," ISU Coach Dan McCarney said. "It felt like a very even football game until the fourth quarter."
Nebraska dominated the final period, keeping the ball 11 minutes, 25 seconds as the Cyclones got worn out.
"They know how to go for the jugular," Iowa State nose guard Ryan Harklau remarked. "We should learn from that."
The Cyclones had two major problems Saturday: They could not run the football, and they could not stop Nebraska in the last period.
Iowa State rushed 25 times for 37 yards, putting pressure on its passing game.
"Usually when you only rush for 37 yards it's because you're getting beat up front," McCarney said. "I'm not trying to be wise. We had no running game today."
McCarney used every trick in his book Saturday. An on-sides kick worked to begin the game, but a flanker pass by Lane Danielson backfired andled to an easy Nebraska touchdown in the fourth period. He also tried a fake field goal and several reverses.
McCarney sent his team a message. "Trust me, we're going for the win," he said.
The Cyclones (4-1, 1-1) visit Oklahoma State Saturday night. ISU safety Dustin Avey said there are two roads leading out of Ames, one good and one bad.
The Cyclones can fade, like they did after scaring Kansas State last year, or they can bounce back and win more games.
"Right now we have a choice we're going to make," Avey said. "The next road is Oklahoma State."
The Cyclones were encouraged by their performance against Nebraska, but not satisfied.
"It's a loss," Harklau said. "We've had enough positives and moral victories and stuff like that. I just want to win."
Nebraska, which dropped from No. 2 to No. 1 in the Associated Press poll last week, climbed back into first place with top-ranked Florida State's loss to Miami (Fla.) Saturday in the Orange Bowl.
Iowa State visits Oklahoma State, then hosts Texas A&M; and Missouri.
The Cyclones appear to have a chance in all three games.
Iowa State finishes the season with tough road trips to Kansas State, now No. 2 in the new AP poll and Colorado, followed by a winnable home date with Kansas.
"We're still 4-and-1. There are a whole bunch of teams in America that would like to be 4-and-1 right now," McCarney said. "Every goal we set before the season, we can still achieve."
The Cyclones are aiming for their first winning season since 1989 and their first bowl trip since 1978.