AMES - Iowa State got the one-sided victory it wanted and expected over Western Illinois.
It just didn't happen as smoothly as the Cyclones had hoped.
Steele Jantz threw three touchdown passes and James White ran 56 yards for another touchdown as Iowa State rolled past the Leathernecks 37-3 on Saturday night.
But penalties and turnovers frustrated the Cyclones at times, though they still had enough to overpower their FCS opponent and start 3-0 for the second straight year and sixth time since 1981. Four of the five previous 3-0 starts led to bowl appearances.
"We really started fast and I thought our guys came out with great energy and urgency," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. "I thought the focus was on the money and then we stalled as an offensive football team and we can't do that. We have to take advantage of the momentum that we started the game with and keep that pace going."
Jantz completed 19 of 26 passes for 209 yards, with touchdown throws of 16 and 5 yards to Chris Young and 22 yards to Aaron Horne. He was intercepted once and lost a fumble.
Western Illinois (2-1) trailed 31-0 before Pat Smith kicked a 26-yard field goal in the first minute of the fourth quarter. Iowa State was playing its second-team defense by then.
While never in danger during the game, Iowa State has a lot to clean up before its Big 12 opener on Sept. 29. The Cyclones were penalized seven times for 75 yards and had turnovers - two interceptions and a fumble.
With next Saturday off, the Cyclones have time to make adjustments.
"The bye week is going to be huge for us," Jantz said. "We can get in, look at film and find out what we need to improve on, which is lots of things. That's what our focus will be in the next two weeks."
Western Illinois started the season with victories over Butler, a non-scholarship FCS program, and Division II Indianapolis. But an opponent from a BCS conference was too much for the outmanned Leathernecks.
"We're not as good as Iowa State," Western Illinois coach Mark Hendrickson said. "They were better than us in all phases of the game. (But) I did learn some things tonight: We have a tough group of young men that never quit."
It looked as though a major rout was in the offing when Iowa State jumped to a 14-0 lead in the early first quarter on White's TD and Jantz's 16-yard pass to Young. The Cyclones then stalled repeatedly with a fumble by Jantz and an interception, then two personal fouls and three holding penalties.
But the defense and Kirby Van Der Kamp's punting kept Western Illinois in check. Van Der Kamp pinned Western at its own 8, 1 and 16 with three first-half punts. The Leathernecks never got beyond the Iowa State 44 until late in the third quarter.
"We focused on starting fast and it was good that we did," Jantz said. "But then we were shooting ourselves in the foot. I had an interception, we had penalty, we had a drop. When we don't shoot ourselves in the foot, we're pretty good."
The second holding penalty against the Cyclones nullified Horne's 61-yard punt return for a touchdown with less than 2 minutes left in the first half. But the offense regrouped and Jantz completed four passes to Young for 55 yards, the last covering 5 yards for a touchdown that made it 21-0.
Young finished with a career-high seven catches for 86 yards, matching his reception total for the first two games. He caught only six passes last year.
Jantz's touchdown pass to Horne, a perfect strike down the middle of the field, made it 28-0 early in the third quarter. Edwin Arceo tacked on a 49-yard field goal to make it 31-0, enabling Rhoads to get his second-teamers into the game.
Iowa State jumped on the Leathernecks early, as expected. On the fifth play of the game, White took a handoff, burst through a big hole in the middle of the line, cut to his right and outran the pursuit to the end zone, helped by Young's downfield block.
Before that 56-yard burst, Iowa State's longest run this season had been 20 yards by Jantz.
After the ISU defense forced a quick three-and-out, Horne returned a punt 48 yards. Three plays later, Young caught a pass from Jantz at the 10, turned and sprinted to the end zone to make it 14-0 with 9:34 left in the quarter.
Western Illinois managed only 81 yards in the first half and 178 for the game. The Leathernecks' Nikko Watson gained 76 yards in 17 carries, while Josh Hudson completed 9 of 18 passes for 73 yards. He was sacked twice and hurried on several other throws as Iowa State held its second straight opponent without a touchdown, the first time the Cyclones have kept two straight foes out of the end zone since the 1964 finale and 1965 opener.
"It's a credit to coach (Wally) Burnham and the whole defensive staff," linebacker Jake Knott said. "They put the system in. All we have to do is go out there and execute it."