The game started off exactly how Oklahoma State would have wanted it to. The Cowboys jumped out to a seemingly effortless 14-0 lead and looked to be poised to run Arizona right out of the desert.
Then things unraveled.
The penalties piled up and so did the turnovers, as the No. 18 Cowboys routinely beat themselves in front of a raucous Arizona crowd en route to a deflating 59-38 loss to the unranked Wildcats.
It was a rude welcome back to the state where OSU won the Fiesta Bowl just nine months ago.
Arizona played well and capitalized on the opportunities presented to them but Oklahoma State had just as much to do with its defeat as the Wildcats.
The Cowboys set a school record with 167 penalty yards, turned the ball over four times, dropped countless passes and time-after-time took themselves out of contention.
Things looked to be going the way of the previous two meetings between the schools when OSU carved the Arizona defense on two scoring drives capped by freshman quarterback Wes Lunt strikes to Tracy Moore for nine and 30 yards, respectively.
Then the onslaught of yellow flags began to rain down.
But Oklahoma State did what it hadn't done when faced with adversity in its 2011 Big 12 title run, it lost its composure. That 14-0 lead turned into a 23-14 halftime deficit.
Self-inflicted wounds, turnovers and mental lapses led to Arizona scoring 30 consecutive points on the Pokes.
Oklahoma State was able to gather itself offensively and make a run behind its freshman quarterback, at one point drawing to within two points at 30-28 after OSU strung together back-to-back scoring drives in the third quarter, capped by a nine-yard reception by Tracy Moore and a 10-yard run by Jeremy Smith.
But that momentum came to a screeching halt when Arizona came out and marched down the field for a touchdown drive that took just five plays and covered 75 yards in 1:38.
OSU answered with a 25-yard field goal by Quinn Sharp on the ensuing drive to climb back to a 37-31 deficit but that kick came after a dropped touchdown pass by junior receiver Blake Jackson, who was uncontested in the corner of the end zone.
Oklahoma State forced Arizona to punt and took over with a chance to take the lead. Wes Lunt only made one major mistake but it was a back breaker as an ill-advised pass to the right sideline was intercepted in stride by Zona defensive back, who took it 48 yards for a touchdown to increase the Wildcat lead to 45-31 with 10:24 remaining.
The Cowboys couldn't make it interesting after that point, save for Tracy Moore's fourth touchdown of the game on a 22-yard pass from Lunt to cut the deficit back to 14 with less than three minutes remaining.
After a failed onside kick attempt, Arizona blasted through the fatigued OSU defense for the deciding score on a five-play, 44-yard drive.
Oklahoma State finished with 636 total yards against Arizona's 501 but were derailed by miscues.
Lunt headlined the short list of bright spots for the Cowboys on the night after throwing for 436 yards and four scores, all going to Tracy Moore, who finished with eight catches for 106 yards after missing last week's opener because of a suspension.
Jackson, a Gilbert, Ariz. native, finished with six receptions for 105 yards but had three key drops.
Joseph Randle finished with 123 rushing yards on 23 carries and also caught eight passes for 70 yards.
Linebacker Alex Elkins finished with a game-high 12.5 tackles, six more than any other Cowboy, in an underwhelming showing from the Cowboy defense, which surrendered its most points since a 61-41 loss to OU in 2008.
The Cowboys leave Arizona with a bitter taste in their mouths and need to right the ship quickly before a Sept. 15 showdown with Louisiana-Lafayette in Stillwater. Lafayette is 2-0 following a 37-24 victory against Troy on Saturday. Lafayette is 11-3 since opening the 2011 season with a 61-34 loss to the Cowboys.