AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State knows that quarterback Steele Jantz can make the big play.
What the Cyclones need out of Jantz this season is to make the right play, over and over again.
Jantz was poised and efficient Saturday, throwing for a career-high 281 yards and two touchdowns and running for another score as Iowa State beat Tulsa 38-23 to win its ninth opener in 10 years.
Shontrelle Johnson added a career-high 120 yards rushing for the Cyclones, who scored 24 straight points behind Jantz and held off a late rally by the Golden Hurricane.
"I saw a lot of things out of Steele Jantz," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. "I saw a very composed quarterback. I saw a guy who had the look in his eye."
Jantz threw and ran for second-quarter touchdowns to help Iowa State turn a 16-7 deficit into a 31-16 lead late in the third quarter. Cody Green's 4-yard touchdown pass to Keyarris Garrett brought Tulsa within 31-23 in the fourth quarter, but the Golden Hurricane's final drive fizzled when Deon Broomfield intercepted Green with 2:04 left.
Johnson's 5-yard TD run on the next play sealed the win for Iowa State.
Green had 198 yards passing and two touchdowns in his first career start for Tulsa after transferring from Nebraska.
"I feel good about the way he came out, the way he delivered it. I'd like for him to have handled the pressure at the end a little better — and I'm talking about the pass rush pressure," Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said. "That's where the lack of playing a lot of games recently probably hurt him."
The Golden Hurricane scored 16 points in just over six minutes in the first quarter and looked ready to roll past the Cyclones.
By the time Tulsa threatened again, it was in major comeback mode.
The Cyclones took control with a 12-play, 82-yard scoring drive powered by the running game. James White went up the middle through a big hole for a 6-yard touchdown, putting Iowa State ahead by 15 with 5:08 left in the third.
Tulsa's stagnant attack got a major boost from Trey Watts, who stunned the Cyclones with a 77-yard run to set up Green's TD pass to Garrett. The Golden Hurricane even had a chance at the game-tying score before Green's pass was picked off by Broomfield.
Broomfield brought it back 51 yards, and Johnson put the perfect capper on his return from a neck injury in 2011 with a touchdown run.
"He runs the ball violently and he runs the ball with great passion. He's a weapon," Rhoads said.
Jantz beat out sophomore Jared Barnett in fall camp to claim the starting spot for the opener for the second straight year.
Jantz quickly showed why the coaches were so willing to give him his old job back. He also had one moment — but only one — that reminded them of why he lost it in the first place.
Jantz floated a near-perfect ball to Josh Lenz for a 43-yard touchdown with 7:51 left in the first quarter, putting the Cyclones up 7-0.
But Tulsa answered with a safety, a 1-yard TD run on fourth down from Ja'Terian Douglas and a two-point conversion to go up 10-7. Jantz then missed high to an open receiver, and Demarco Nelson's interception set up a 6-yard touchdown pass from Green to Thomas Roberson that gave Tulsa a 16-7 lead.
But Jantz answered with a 5-yard touchdown run and a 7-yard touchdown pass to Ernst Brun. Iowa State's defense stiffened as well, and Edwin Arceo's 30-yard field goal allowed the Cyclones to go into the break with a 24-16 lead.
Jantz finished 32 of 45 passing — far above his meager 53.3 completion percentage of 2011 — and just one pick.
At one point in the fourth quarter, Jantz nearly threw across his body into the middle of the field while scrambling on third down. He didn't, choosing instead for a dump-down pass and a punt.
It was the correct throw, even if it wasn't an exciting one.
"I tried to remember that it's mental, and that's where it all starts. I try to be smarter about it and more composed, and I felt like I did a good job," Jantz said.
The last time Green was in Ames, he led Nebraska to a dramatic overtime win over the Cyclones, 31-30, in 2010. But the Huskers coaching staff seemed more comfortable playing Rex Burkhead out of the Wildcat formation than Green behind center.
Green completed just 23 of his 49 passes and was picked off twice, and Tulsa's offense was simply too inconsistent to pull off yet another road win to open the year.
The Golden Hurricane's receivers didn't help either, dropping a number of crucial Green passes.
"I can picture in my head, five, six, seven throws in the second half that we had both hands but don't bring them in," Blankenship said. "We've got to help (Green)."