The preliminary college football watch lists keep rolling out. And with each one, OSU players — defensive players — continue to gain inclusion.
Tackle Calvin Barnett on the Outland Trophy list.
Safety Daytawion Lowe on the Thorpe Award list.
Cornerback Justin Gilbert on the Hornung Award list.
Barnett, Gilbert and linebacker Shaun Lewis all on the Nagurski Trophy list.
Did anybody see the Cowboys play defense in 2012? And it wouldn't take a comedian to suggest, quite simply, no.
Yet there's four players gaining recognition for rating among the nation's best. That's more than one-third of the Cowboys defense. And representing all three levels of the defense, too.
Now for a disclaimer: these early watch lists are lengthy and often appear to be all-inclusive. Repeated revisions and cuts are coming before any ballots become relevant.
Still, for a team with perceived problems when it comes to limiting yards or points, it's more reason for increased optimism for a special season in 2013.
The offense figures to be potent again, with essentially nine starters back on that side of the ball, plus several exciting new faces hoping to force their way on the field. And you'll find some Cowboys in play when the watch lists for the Lombardi, Biletnikoff, Davey O'Brien, Doak Walker and Walter Camp awards are revealed this week.
More than anything, OSU's offense (and reputation for outrageous offensive numbers) is the reason many are projecting the Cowboys for the top of the Big 12 standings.
And yet, for the Pokes to challenge for a championship, the defense must cooperate.
In last season's 8-5 finish, OSU surrendered at least 41 points in all five setbacks. The defense regularly struggled to get off the field or make a play, losing twice — to Texas and Oklahoma — on those teams' final offensive snap.