The Cowboys seized Saturday's game at Texas A&M in the second half, for sure.
Offense and defense flipped the switch, reversing a ragged first 30 minutes.
But they also won it in June and July and finally August practices, pushing through the most scorching summer in Oklahoma history.
It was hot and humid on Kyle Field, with temperatures in the high 90s through much of the game. And when Oklahoma State turned up the heat, hurrying the pace on both sides of the ball, the Aggies wilted.
“I thought our team was in tremendous physical condition,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy. “I thought that we had a lot left in the fourth quarter.
“What this came down to was I thought our team was in better physical condition – by a long shot.”
Rob Glass, OSU's strength and conditioning coach, gets a lot of credit within the Cowboys, with players and coaches frequently praising the benefits of Glass' regimen. And it isn't all macho, tough stuff, either.
During this preseason, the Pokes actually backed off in certain areas, focusing on players maintaining weight and strength – and not exhaust them – in an effort to remain fresh.
Saturday, we witnessed a payoff.
As the Cowboys played faster, the Aggies fatigued, to the point that their frequent fall outs on the field raised suspicions of a New York Giants-style fake job. It was a theory that spread through the press box and extended to the field, where Gundy himself raised the question to the officials.
After the game, Gundy softened somewhat.
“I don't know, there were so many guys who got cramped up…” Gundy said. “At one point I got frustrated. Like the official said, ‘How do I know if it's real or not?' And he's right.
“I got caught up in the emotions of the game, because we were going fast, fast, fast, and every time we got going, they were down. You would like to think no,” they weren't faking.
The Aggies may or not have used some gamesmanship.
But they were clearly gassed.
“For a lot of guys, their first day game is difficult,” said A&M safety Trent Hunter. “Emotions were high, a lot of sweat pouring, a lot of intensity in the second half.
“I think it just built up and snowballed a little bit.”
The Cowboys offense set the pace and the defense followed, working hand in hand.
“I think our offense really wore out their defense in the second half,” said OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young. “We were trying our best to get off the field. We were telling our players, get them back out there, because it was hot. It was really hot.
“It's tough to play under those conditions, and we're throwing the ball from sideline to sideline and 30 yards down the field. You're wearing people out.”
The Cowboys defense, after stressing fundamentals and installing fixes at the half, pitched a second-half shutout until the Aggies got a final touchdown late. Young's crew allowed just five first downs in the second half and forced four turnovers, contributing to a third quarter that featured the OSU offense on the field for 37 of its staggering 95 total plays.
“I thought we wore their D down,” said Cowboys receiver Josh Cooper, who finished with a career-high 11 catches for 123 yards.
The Aggies didn't disagree.
“We knew in the second half they would pick up the tempo,” said Aggies defensive back Terrence Frederick. “We couldn't adjust to it, and we let things get out of hand.”
Frederick added: “You've got to have a will and a want to. Everyone didn't have that will and want to.”
On the other sideline, the Cowboys had it in abundance.
“We just kept persevering,” said OSU cornerback Brodrick Brown. Great teams don't get down on themselves. We just kept telling ourselves, ‘Be strong, be courageous.'
“Playing in a hostile environment, getting down how we did, we responded. We responded well.”