STILLWATER—Markelle Martin and Shaun Lewis were working out together earlier this week when they saw a headline on the TV about their Oklahoma State Cowboys.
“No ‘D' in Stillwater.”
But no series of events illustrates the Cowboys' formula on that side of the ball better than Baylor's first drive of the game Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.
After Baylor took the opening kickoff and drove to the OSU two-yard-line, the Cowboys stuffed the Bears on four straight running plays to keep them out of the end zone and ignite the home crowd.
Then the Cowboy offense answered with a 99-yard touchdown drive, which began OSU's 59-24 rout.
“We wanted to go out and prove that we are a good defense,” Martin said. “I think that fire (Saturday) was lit, and we all shined.”
How you evaluate the OSU defense depends on which statistics you choose. The Cowboys came into the game ranked 103rd in the nation in total defense but second nationally in turnovers forced and tied for 23rd in red zone defense.
Either way, they're 8-0 for the first time since 1945.
And their homecoming game performance only bolstered the Cowboys' rankings in those categories.
Baylor, which came into the game ranked second in the nation in total offense, ran 105 plays and gained 662 yards. The Bears drove into OSU territory on every possession but one — when the first half clock ran out after two plays. Heisman candidate Robert Griffin III passed for 425 yards.
But the OSU defense forced five more turnovers. It stopped BU twice on fourth-and-one, including once at the one-yard line. It twice intercepted Griffin III, who coming in had thrown two interceptions all season.
And the Bears, shut out in the first half, did not score a touchdown until the fourth quarter, when the game was well in hand.
“We gave up yardage, but the bottom line, we end up getting them stopped,” OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young said.
And often, those stops came close to the goal line.
BU took 13 snaps inside the five-yard line before getting into the end zone on a Griffin III quarterback sneak late in the fourth quarter.
“We do a good job communicating on the back end at that point,” Martin said. “We understand it's not so much space to worry about. Our guys have a lot of pride about themselves, and we do a good job of just staying sound and being physical at that point.”
Justin Gilbert intercepted Griffin III in the end zone in the second quarter. Later, Richetti Jones forced a Glasco Martin fumble at the one-yard line in the third period.
Brodrick Brown recovered to set up OSU's second 99-yard touchdown drive of the game. A familiar Brandon Weeden-to-Justin Blackmon fade route from two yards out made it 49-3.
OSU's defensive philosophy has worked through eight games. But Young still wouldn't mind seeing those yardage allowed totals come down.
“We've got some tremendous goals for ourselves,” said Young, “and we can't be giving up 600 yards or 900 yards or 200,000 or whatever we're giving up.”