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Oklahoma State’s Defense Stands Tall in Win Over Kansas State

The OSU defense shut K-State out in the first and third quarters.

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Don’t look now — and as you read this, I don’t even want you to fully acknowledge this so as not to jinx it — but here goes my thesis. No, scratch that — here goes my belief.

Oklahoma State’s defense is a very real thing.

On a night when the Cowboys offense was explosive but not its productive scoreboard-busting self — only scoring 26 points despite 526 total yards of offense — it was the defensive side of the ball that stood tall and once again showed itself as a real strength in a close game.

“Our defense was tremendous,” said Gundy on ESPN after the game. “They knew this was going to be a physical game, and they got right in the middle of it. Very proud of Chuba, but I can’t say enough about the defense.”

(Side note: Chuba Hubbard rushed for 296 yards against K-State, the sixth most in a single-game by an OSU running back ever, and Gundy’s reaction being well yeah it was good, but how about that defense?! tells you just how big a deal it was.)

There’s been some promising development made on the defensive side of the ball this season that’s showed itself from time to time. The first-half shutout against McNeese. The second-half shutout against Tulsa. But what we saw Saturday — OSU holding K-State to a measly 13 points? That’s a step in the right direction.

Look, Kansas State isn’t Boise State or Texas Tech or OU. This isn’t a program that typically is synonymous with being an offensive juggernaut. But Kansas State has been more effective than you think on that side of the ball this season! It scored 101 combined points in its first two games this season, then hung 31 in a road win over Mississippi State last week. That OSU was able to rally defensively and hold that same team — without its top receiver, I should add — to only 13 points? Weather delay, K-State missing a weapon, I get it. You can pin the performance on some unusual factors, or you could appreciate it for what it is: progress.

“They get a little better each week,” Gundy said after the game. “In most cases, you have to stop the run first. It’s not always easy, but you have to stop the run and then rally to the pass. We’ve continued to improve each week and got a little better. The challenge next week will be much different than it was this week, but I like where we’re at. I like our coaching, I like our schemes, and I like that our players have a pretty good feel of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

If what OSU is trying to accomplish is defensive competency, then thus far this team is tracking in the right direction. OSU out-rushed K-State 373 to 126, out-passed K-State 153 to 118, held K-State to only one conversion on third-down in 13 attempts, and you’re starting to get the picture here. Competency doesn’t seem all that far off!

As Gundy alluded to above, the tests don’t exactly get easier — and they certainly don’t get more consistent. This week, a power team in Kansas State. Next week, a high-flying Texas Tech team on the road. Each game is a landmine that, for this OSU defense, must be navigated with extreme caution. And for now, after another promising defensive showing, perhaps even with a little optimism, too.

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