STILLWATER – The nation's best offense pulls into Payne County on Saturday night for college football's game of the day, and my, how times have changed. Trepidation is nowhere to be found in Cowboy Country.
These days, OSU plays a little defense. Who would have thought?
When the Cowboys were getting beat 61-41 (Bedlam 2008) and 45-35 (Houston 2009) and 51-41 (Nebraska 2010), this day seemed impossible. A showdown in which Pistol Pete could hang his Stetson on defense.
“We've started to change the tradition in football at Oklahoma State,” Mike Gundy said. “But we're just kind of a tip of the iceberg on defense, because we haven't been as consistent. Played OK for a couple of years.”
Baylor, of course, is the ultimate test. The last-standing Big 12 force playing video-game offense. The Bears lead the nation in scoring (61.2 points a game, no team is within 8 1/2 points) and total offense (684.8 yards, more than 100 ahead of the runnerup).
The ultimate test. But nothing the Cowboys haven't seen over the last few years. In the last four seasons, OSU has played 10 games against offenses that eventually finished in the top-10 nationally in total offense.
OSU has given up 34.4 points and 520.1 yards a game in those 10 games. And won seven of them.
This might explain why defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer is a little defensive about all this finally-a-defense-in-Stillwater talk.
“I don't feel that way. I don't feel that's how it's been,” Spencer said. “I think people know now maybe we weren't that bad in the past, what the perception is, what the media put out there.
“What is it? Is it great offenses we were going against, maybe we weren't that bad. If you count it like that, then everybody was awful. That's hard for me to believe.”
I'm in no mood to argue. Not with OSU playing stingy defense — 14th nationally in scoring, allowing 19.0 points a game — and sporting veteran seniors like Shaun Lewis, Calvin Barnett, Justin Gilbert, Caleb Lavey, Daytawion Lowe and Tyler Johnson.