Cowboys coach Mike Gundy didn't comment on the Sports Illustrated series, none of the Cowboys did. And questions about that topic weren't welcomed.
Still, Gundy and the players talked around the events of the week, which included an outpouring of support from former players.
“It doesn't surprise me that we have a number of people who want to be outspoken,” Gundy said. “That didn't surprise me at all.”
The importance of playing a game – any game – Saturday, wasn't lost on the Cowboys.
And with a welcoming crowd that was the largest in Boone Pickens Stadium history at 59,061, the mood was right.
“All the guys were anxious to come out,” said Cowboys linebacker Caleb Lavey. “Even in The Walk, it's hard not to get excited when you've got all the fans cheering for you. It's just a great environment.
“It was easy to get excited. I was just ready to get on the field. And once we did, it was very easy to play to the crowd.”
Beyond the heavy news of the week, the Cowboys were playing their first home game since last November. OSU closed the 2012 season with three games away from home, then played their first two this season in the state of Texas.
“It was good to be back here,” Lavey said. “It was loud in the first half. Then the seats started to get a little empty. But it was awesome. It was good to be home.
“The defense especially gets to play to the emotions of the crowd. So it was a lot of fun. It was good being home.”
COWBOYS GET TIME OFF
Following a 3-0 start, OSU enters an open week on the schedule, before another road game at West Virginia on Sept. 28.
“I think the bye week comes at a great time for us to really hone in on the little things and clean up some of the stuff that didn't look good today,” said quarterback J.W. Walsh. “The more we get to work on stuff and tune our skills, the better we can be for conference play.”
The Cowboys actually get two open dates among the next four Saturdays, with another break from between home games against Kansas State on Oct 5 and TCU on Oct. 19.
“If I was drawing it up,” Gundy said, “I would play four or five games, have a bye week and then play the rest of the season. That's the hand that we were dealt, so we made do with what we had and we programmed the young men to make them the best that we can be.
“Things we don't have control over, we don't worry about.”
CARDINALS BRING FAMILIAR FACES
Among Lamar's captains Saturday was a pair of familiar faces: former Cowboys Kevin Johnson and Joe Okafor.
It wasn't a great return for either player, with Okafor recording just one tackle from his nose guard spot and Johnson – Lamar's leading all-purpose yardage leader – getting shut out as a receiver until late, finishing with one catch for 10 yards.
RED ZONE, RED HOT
The Cowboys continue to cash in on their optimum scoring opportunities.
Against the Cardinals, OSU went 7-for-7 on red zone scoring chances, reaching the end zone each time.
For the season, the Cowboys are 15-for-15 scoring when reaching the red zone – with all 15 touchdowns.
“The offense is getting better every week, regardless of the opponent,” said receiver Josh Stewart. “We're really excited about that. The key is to keep working hard every week, getting better and better.
“That's what we've been doing. We're excited about what we can do as an offense and as a team this year.”
COWBOYS DENY LAMAR GAMBLES
OSU's defense took it personal when Lamar attempted to go for a first down on its first fourth-down situation of the night.
Lamar quarterback Caleb Berry attempted a pass to Reggie Begelton on fourth-and-four from the Cardinals own 43, but it was broken up by Justin Gilbert with 11:55 remaining in the first.
“As a unit, we kind of see it as disrespect when an offense goes for it on fourth down,” OSU safety Daytawion Lowe said. “We take pride in getting turnovers and stopping people so when it's fourth down, we just really want to get those stops.”
Lamar finished 1-for-4 on the night on fourth down, including a fake punt early in the second quarter that failed.
Lamar coach Ray Woodard felt like the early gambles were worth it.
“If we would have gotten it, things could have been different,” he said. “I thought we got the first down, but I don't think you can say that we could have won the football game with just one extra first down.
“It would have been nice to come out and score early, though. I thought that was one of our keys to the game, if we could go down and move the ball early.”
* The OSU offensive line continued to shuffle Saturday, with redshirt freshman Paul Lewis starting at right guard. Chris Grisbhy made his second consecutive start at right tackle in place of an injured Daniel Koenig.
* Receiver Austin Hays and fullback Kye Staley returned from injury after missing the first two games of the season. Hays recorded one catch for eight yards, while Staley did not record any stats.
* OSU has now won 18 consecutive home openers and has gone 3-0 six times in nine seasons under Gundy.
* With three receptions, Stewart's streak of games with at least four catches stopped at 15.
* Linebacker Kris Catlin tallied a career-high seven tackles.
* The Cowboys wore white helmets, orange jerseys and white pants for the second consecutive home opener.