STILLWATER -- Questions lingered about this OSU defense.
Since the Houston loss, despite solid play for most of two months, including six wins in seven games, one question in particular kept popping up:
How would the Cowboys stand up to a premier passing attack?
Asked and now answered.
OSU's defense, backed into some unenviable predicaments Saturday night, bucked up all night against the Big 12's No. 1 aerial show. The Cowboys limited Texas Tech to its lowest point total in the series (matching the 2005 effort) dating back to Mike Leach's Lubbock arrival with an all-out aerial show.
An attack, too, that has created more fits for Cowboys defenses and defensive coordinators than Mountain Dew-infused 5-year olds on Kindergarten teachers. Former Cowboys defensive boss Bill Clay once went to a clinic where Leach was speaking, just to try to gain an edge; an edge never found.
"Four years of being here, Texas Tech has been high scoring games, every game we played," said linebacker Patrick Lavine, who produced one of the game's critical plays, a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. "The defense has always been a step behind on them.
"This is a turnaround for us."
It's been a full-season turnaround.
"We've gotten better each week and I think we showed it today," said first-year defensive coordinator Bill Young. "We're extremely proud of our players."
The Houston game was the exception, with poor tackling and big plays at the root of a 45-35 setback. Since then, the Cowboys had played better, even producing stretch's of shutout football.
But none of those offenses were Tech's.
"We've never played like we played tonight, against the No. 4 (scoring) offense in the nation," said Cowboys corner Perrish Cox, who picked off two Tech passes. "Last year, they put up 50-something on us. That was our main focus, 'If we get big stops, we'll be OK.'"
They were better than OK.
Tech passed for 307 yards, well off their 400.4-yard average that ranks second nationally. The Red Raiders' 17 points were their lowest this season.
"That makes us feel perfect," Cox said. "The main talk coming into the season was to change the (thought) from, 'If the offense doesn't do this, we're going to lose the game.'
"We got tired of hearing that. We had to show everybody that defense is here. And we've got playmakers. We had to show everybody."