Coming off a loss, quarterback down, crowd in mourning, things could have gotten quite dicey on Saturday, even against an overmatched opponent like ULL, which must have been sniffing blood in the water.
Instead, things turned out more than OK.
Thanks, first, to the defense.
By halftime, the Cowboys were cruising, 44-0, with 450 yards of offense, wearing out a Cajuns defense that was on the field for 54 plays — in two quarters.
ULL, meanwhile, had just five first downs and 104 yards against an aggressive Cowboys defense that limited the Cajuns to just 3.58 yards per play.
“We played off our defense,” said OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken. “When your defense is stopping them and they're going three-and-out and you're getting the ball right back, the offense has rhythm.”
That rhythm went missing at Arizona, when OSU's offense got bogged down during a stretch during the middle of the game and the defense kept surrendering yards and points.
“Last week, we never got out of that rut,” Monken said. “We couldn't get moving, we kept getting penalties and our defense wasn't getting stops.
“This week it was like make it, take it.”
Monken often talks about the marriage between offense and defense, the importance of playing off one another and building upon each other.
Last year, that was evident with a nation-high 44 take-aways that kept flipping possessions. Saturday, it came with repeated stops.
“It's a team game,” Monken said. “We didn't turn it over and they couldn't get first downs. That's when you play off each other well. We didn't do that last week. And that's why we lost.”
This time, offense — and defense — delivered.