Oklahoma State promised to play faster this season.
And the Cowboys are.
Record faster, at least for them.
And to think, they probably haven't played full-tilt fast yet; there hasn't been a need, considering OSU was in a run-out-the-clock situation in the fourth quarter of each game of its 3-0 start.
So, what constitutes fastest ever?
A blog on SBNation.com, a piece entitled Football Study Hall, takes a look at pace of play through a simple formula: average time of possession per game divided by average offensive plays per game.
So far this season, OSU sits at 19.9 seconds per play, ranking No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 7 nationally. BYU leads nationally at 17.8, followed by Wyoming (18.0), Oregon (18.6), California (18.8), Houston (19.6), Fresno State (19.8) and OSU.
“I didn't know it was possible to go that much faster, but we have,” said Cowboys receiver David Glidden. “We've sped it up a lot more.”
For some context, only seven teams have ever broken 20 seconds for a season, with each of the seven managing the feat since 2009, when hurry-up, no-huddle offenses were gaining in popularity.
This season, seven teams are averaging under 20 seconds per play.
OSU's fastest season came in its Big 12 title year of 2011, when the Cowboys averaged 20 seconds.
As the schedule figures to bring more competitive games, expect the Cowboys to press the pedal even more as they approach their preferred pace of play.
“We can always get faster,” said OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. “We can always push the standard from a tempo standpoint, getting lined up fast and making sure that they're wearing the defense out and disrupting their communication and you're making them, from a substitution standpoint, take care of that as well.”
KEEPING COUNT: MARGINS OF VICTORY
By routing Lamar 59-3, the Cowboys reached a Mike Gundy milestone of sorts.
It marked the 25th time in Gundy's tenure as head coach that OSU has scored at least 50 points in a game.
Among those 50-point outbursts, 16 have come since the start of the 2010 season — a span of 42 games — and two have happened already this year. The Cowboys also popped UTSA, 56-35.
COWBOYS KEEPING POSITIVE ON TAKEAWAYS
OSU's defense craves takeaways.
And the Cowboys have been good at that game, with their 130 turnovers forced from 2009-2012 ranking second nationally behind only Oregon's total of 131.
But after claiming a nation-leading 44 turnovers in 2011, OSU slipped to 22 a year ago and actually broke even in turnover margin, giving the ball away 22 times.
So far this season, the Cowboys are off to a better start in turnover margin at plus-4, which leads the Big 12 and ties for 18th nationally.
The OSU defense has forced at least one turnover in all three games.
“Turnovers are always a huge emphasis, whether it's in a game or practices,” said Cowboys linebacker Caleb Lavey. “We didn't get the quota we wanted (against Lamar), but it's one of the most important things we do as a defense.”
OPPONENT WATCH: WEST VIRGINIA
West Virginia made a change at quarterback and thrived on offense a week ago, albeit against lesser competition in a 41-7 romp past Georgia State.
In his first career game, redshirt freshman Ford Childress completed 25 of 41 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. With the quarterback position seemingly settled, the Mountaineers' offensive focus now shifts to the receiver positions, where inconsistencies and dropped passes have irked coach Dana Holgorsen.
As West Virginia visits Maryland Saturday, maybe it can benefit from some Terrapin misfortune.
In consecutive weeks, Maryland lost its starting cornerbacks and will enter Saturday's game with little depth behind the new starters — 5-11 senior Isaac Goins and 5-7 true freshman William Likely.
“They're both real small, so we should be able to do some things,” said Mountaineers receiver Kevin White.