For years now, Oklahoma State football has been associated with some of the top offenses in the country. The Cowboys have had quarterbacks like Brandon Weeden and Mason Rudolph throwing bombs to guys like Justin Blackmon and James Washington, all while maintaining a healthy running attack with athletes like Joseph Randle and Justice Hill.
The problem is that the Cowboys have not always had an elite defense to go along with their offensive prowess. Now, it appears Oklahoma State could be headed in that direction.
The Cowboys have had their share of struggles this season. They lost a close one to Texas in Austin, they had a failed comeback against Texas Tech in Lubbock, and they were embarrassed at home by Baylor, despite leading at halftime. The biggest issue in those three losses was the inability to score points, and surprisingly, the defense was at least decent for the most part.
Since their last loss a month ago, the Cowboy defense has been the savior for Oklahoma State Football. Three weeks in a row now it has been the defense that has made key stops, forced turnovers, and kept the Cowboys in the game.
Yesterday’s game against Kansas would have been a lot closer if it were not for the defense. The Jayhawks don’t exactly have an impressive offense. They’re near the bottom in the conference in rushing, and they fall in the middle with their passing attack. Still, they have some playmakers who have been able to put up some points at different times this season.
Let’s not forget when the Jayhawks scored early on the Sooners, or when they hung 48 on the Longhorns in a 2-point loss, or when they put up 37 against the Red Raiders in a wild finish.
Yesterday, the Cowboy offense was either on or off, rarely in between, and when they were off, the defense stepped up and did a fantastic job to keep the Jayhawks at bay. Kansas was held scoreless well into the fourth quarter, and by then, backups were into the game.
Kansas managed just 39 yards on the ground, less than 100 than their average. The Jayhawks did throw for 251 yards, slightly over their average, but 157 of those came in the 4th quarter when the game was put away.
The defense didn’t only get stops, however. They forced turnovers. Sophomore defensive back Kolby Harvell-Peel grabbed two interceptions, his second game in a row with that many, and freshman defensive end Trace Ford grabbed one also.
Oklahoma State’s offense is going to be just fine. Spencer Sanders is a freshman quarterback, and he’s still learning. The Cowboys seem to never run out of talent at wide receiver and running back. The future of the offense is in good hands.
The defense has consistently been a question mark, but it appears that in his second year, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has the Cowboy defense believing that they can play at a high level and actually doing it. Don’t be surprised if it’s the defense that helps the Cowboys finish off the season with a big win against the Mountaineers in Morgantown next weekend and perhaps even a Bedlam upset when Oklahoma State hosts Oklahoma on Thanksgiving weekend.