“After those first couple drives, they started making adjustments to our offense and we didn't respond,” Barnett said. “They were definitely getting pressure on me and making it hard for our guys to beat them in 1-on-1 coverage.”
But the most positive development for the Cowboy defense? The return of the takeaway, the play that was OSU's calling card a season ago (NCAA-best 44) but almost nonexistent so far in 2012 (four entering Saturday).
OSU forced two turnovers in ISU territory in the third quarter, including a one-handed interception by Lowe that set up a 12-yard touchdown run by Joseph Randle to give the Cowboys a 24-10 lead.
It was reminiscent of the 2011 Cowboys, where the defense would create a momentum play to give the offense a short field, and the offense would carry it on with a quick score.
“It kind of kick-starts it a little bit,” quarterback J.W. Walsh said of that turnover. “We were kind of in a lull where we weren't moving the ball as well as we wanted to. When (Lowe) got that (interception), we kind of turned it on. …It gets the momentum flowing.
“The defense played really well today, and I think that's what made us play so well is we fed off them and they fed off us.”
Since a disastrous performance against Arizona in Week 2, where the Cowboy defense allowed 52 points, it has put together strong stretches. It shut out Louisiana-Lafayette in the first half, held Texas without an offensive touchdown for nearly 2 1/2 quarters and then led Kansas 20-0 before a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Jayhawks.
But Saturday was the Cowboys' most complete effort. And Lowe knows they will need similar performances in the second half of the season, when OSU continues to face the Big 12's high-powered offenses.
“(Saturday's game) boosts us up a lot,” Lowe said. “But really, it comes down to preparing. We prepared well this week, so it's really going to come down to continuing to prepare each week to get better.”