Austen Arnaud threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns, both to Marquis Hamilton, and Iowa State beat North Dakota State 34-17 Thursday night to make coach Paul Rhoads a winner in his debut.
Alexander Robinson added 83 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Cyclones (1-0), who snapped a 10-game losing streak.
North Dakota State (0-1) got as close as 24-17 midway through the third quarter before Iowa State pulled away.
Grant Mahoney hit a career-long 50-yard field goal and Arnaud found Hamilton for a 42-yard touchdown pass with 9:58 left to make it 34-17.
Pat Paschall rushed for a career-high 146 yards and a touchdown for North Dakota State, an FCS program that fell to 3-3 against FBS opponents since 2006.
Perhaps the best news for Iowa State was the crowd, which was the largest for a home opener since 1987 _ and that came against rival Iowa. The Cyclones drew 48,831, or about 1,500 more than former coach Gene Chizik had on hand for his much-anticipated debut in 2007. Rhoads had been an Auburn assistant.
Iowa State looked as though it might put away the pesky Bison early in the third quarter. Hamilton raced through the North Dakota State secondary for a 39-yard TD reception off a quick slant route, putting the Cyclones ahead 24-10.
The Bison answered in impressive fashion, driving 73 yards in 10 plays as Nick Mertens found Matt Veldman for a 15-yard TD pass to cut it to 24-17.
But that was it for the North Dakota State's offense, which averaged 6 yards per play. Mertens was 15 of 27 passing for 178 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
Though the Cyclones walked away with the win, they clearly have some work to do before next week's home game against No. 22 Iowa.
Iowa State's defense missed a number of tackles in the first half, allowing North Dakota State to break off three plays of 35 yards or longer and stay within 17-10 by the break.
North Dakota State moved to the Iowa State 3-yard line late in the first quarter thanks to a 62-yard run by Paschall. The Bison fumbled it away in the end zone, though, and the Cyclones took advantage. Arnaud's 5-yard touchdown run pushed Iowa State's lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter.
North Dakota State got on the board behind a 42-yard run by Mike Sigers immediately after an Arnaud fumble. Paschall followed two plays later with a 1-yard TD plunge to make it 14-7 with 4:21 left in the first half.
Paschall's 36-yard reception set up a 39-yard field goal from Shawn Bibeau just before the break.
Iowa State's first series running the spread could not have gone better. The Cyclones marched 81 yards in just nine plays, and Robinson ran it in from 18 yards out to make it 7-0.
Iowa State's offense, now a no-huddle spread attack, was somewhat inconsistent the rest of the night against a defense with just four returning starters. The Cyclones gained 442 yards of total offense, as Arnaud rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown.