STILLWATER — The chant echoed through a half empty Boone Pickens Stadium.
“Beat OU! Beat OU!”
That's not impossible.
Especially not after what happened Saturday.
On an afternoon Oklahoma State throttled Texas Tech 59-21 and ushered Cowboy fans to the exits early, the Cowboys served notice that they are capable of upending the Sooners again.
A suddenly surging pass rush. It forced Red Raider quarterback Seth Doege into two interceptions and even more mistakes. It wrecked havoc on the top passing offense in the nation.
Pretty sure Landry Jones remembers what that Cowboy pass rush looks like.
He sees it in his nightmares.
The Cowboys pressured the Sooner quarterback into all sorts of mistakes a year ago. Incompletions. Interceptions. A first-half fumble that resulted in a backbreaking touchdown.
But through OSU's first nine games of this season, that dogged pass rush was nowhere to be found.
Saturday, it returned.
With a vengeance.
“Honestly, I don't know what happened,” Cowboy defensive tackle James Castleman said of the return of the pass rush. “We just wanted to get to the quarterback as quick as we could.”
The Cowboys managed only three sacks, but they tacked on four quarterback hurries and had several big hits early on Doege. All of that seemed to rattle the quarterback, who threw two interceptions and managed only 230 yards passing.
The Red Raiders came into Saturday averaging 370.0 yards passing a game.
The Cowboys were in the Red Raider backfield and in Doege's head.
“I can only go on my experience back there,” Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said. “It's no fun. As a QB, it's not very much fun when you know there's a chance you're getting hit.”
The Cowboys took advantage of the Red Raiders' wide splits on the offensive line, but they also threw a variety of looks at them. Show blitz, then peel back into coverage. Move a defensive end into the middle. Line up three, then rush four. They tried to be unpredictable. They tried to keep Doege and his offense from getting comfortable.
What's more, the Cowboys got pressure without a ton of blitzing. They brought it every once in awhile, but for the most part, they managed to disrupt the Red Raiders by rushing just three or four men.
Credit defensive tackles Castleman, Calvin Barnett and Co. for that.
“We did some different things in the pass rush game that were able to free them up,” Cowboy defensive coordinator Bill Young said.
But scheme wasn't the only thing the Cowboys had going for them.
“They played at such a high energy level,” Young said of his defensive line. “Just great effort by the front four.”
This defensive line has been a good run stopping unit throughout the season, but it has struggled to get pressure on the quarterback. But heading into a Bedlam, this defense looks more capable than ever of disrupting the Sooner offense again.
Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to believe that the Cowboys could win in Norman. OU's struggles at West Virginia showed that the Sooners have numerous vulnerabilities.
Even though it's easy to believe OSU's offense could do to OU what West Virginia and Baylor have done the past two weeks, the Cowboys still need to force Landry Jones out of his comfort zone. He's been much better under pressure this season — it's something he worked on, and it shows — but he's still susceptible to mistakes when he's hurried or flushed out of the pocket.
The movement and the disguises that OSU used against Texas Tech could come in handy against OU.
“We just did a lot of different things,” Young said. “We just tried to mix it up, keep them as off balance as we could. We didn't want to give them a steady diet of any one thing.”
The Sooners will get the smorgasbord of defensive looks next week, and if the Cowboy defensive line can eat, OSU can win.