STILLWATER — Even with OSU leading on the scoreboard early Saturday, Daytawion Lowe saw his Cowboys as trailing visiting TCU.
Even with his side still pitching a shutout, Lowe said he recognized only one running tally.
“They jumped out 3-0 on the turnovers,” Lowe said. “All the seniors got together and said, ‘We've got to get one. We've got to catch up. We can't let them win this turnover battle.'
“And we stood up to the challenge.”
That's how the Cowboys defense judges itself these days, not on matching up with the other team's offense, but with the opposing defense.
Whatever they can do, we better do better.
“Coming into the game, TCU's defense was hyped up,” said Cowboys cornerback Justin Gilbert. “And they're good. So it was a big matchup for us.”
Opposite what has been largely considered the Big 12's best in the Horned Frogs, OSU emerged ultimately victorious, eventually rallying in the turnover department and playing a strong game of shutdown, taking a major role in the 24-10 win.
“We went into it with a lot of motivation,” said Cowboys cornerback Justin Gilbert. “It was a pretty good feeling coming off the field.”
The OSU defense finished with four turnovers and 13 stops. When J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf were tossing a combined three interceptions in the first half, the Cowboys D was in denial mode. Even when the Horned Frogs tried to put on another of their second-half rallies, pulling within 17-10, the OSU defense allowed no more.
With the Cowboys sputtering on offense most of the day, Gilbert and Co. provided some sense of comfort for a happy homecoming.
“There's no better feeling than playing with my brothers out there right now,” Gilbert said. “Everybody's got that mindset to make plays and to play for this family. We emphasize that during practice and it's carrying over to the games.
“After the game, we pretty much have a good feeling, most of the time.”
This time for sure, although it always seems like a difficult chore convincing defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer.
“We did enough today,” Spencer said. “It's about what's going to happen next week, now.”
No time to enjoy?
“It's sick, I know,” Spencer said.
Still, with the Cowboys stacking up another strong defensive effort, it may be time to start considering them among the Big 12's best defenses.
“Nope,” said Spencer. “Everybody just keep telling us we're bad. Serious. And you can quote me on that.
“Just keep telling us we're bad and we haven't done anything.”
Spencer prefers a hungry approach.
“Yeah, there's been a chip on our shoulder the last few years, as well as the offense has been playing,” said Cowboys linebacker Caleb Lavey, who picked off a pass and recovered a fumble against TCU. “We're just trying to define ourselves as a good defense in the Big 12.
“And we're going to continue working to do so.”