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Three and Out: OSU Defense Will Be Tested Again on 3rd Downs



As you enjoy this weekend’s battle between opposing shades of orange, here are three numbers to watch that will go along way toward deciding which team is still in the Big 12 hunt and which isn’t.


Oklahoma State’s defense is dead-last in the Big 12 and 113th nationally in third-down defense. The Cowboys are giving up a first down on 45 percent of those plays for the year and you can place the blame on two specific outings.

3rd-Down Defense Comp/Att Conversion Rate
Against Tulsa and TCU 24/45 60.0%
Against the Rest 18/55 32.7%

And what do those two teams have in common? A mobile quarterback, similar to the one OSU will try to corral on Saturday in true freshman Sam Ehlinger.

According to sophomore linebacker Calvin Bundage, limiting Ehlinger’s dual-threat ability is their No. 1 focus as a defense.

“I think we have to stop their quarterback run,” said Bundage. “We have to make the quarterback be a quarterback and stay in the pocket and throw the ball instead of trying to run. I think that’s what we have to do, and that’s the game plan.”


That is the OSU’s current turnover margin. It got back to an even zero after winning TO batterl 3-2 over Baylor, but the Cowboys are still seventh in the Big 12 through six games. This is a team that finished first and second in the league in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

A defense that prides itself on forcing them has been sub-par and the Cowboys have been downright sloppy with the ball on offense and special teams.

Senior LB Chad Whitener talked about the emphasis the coaching staff put on getting takeaways earlier this week in practice.

“We’ve been really focusing on getting turnovers, especially today in practice,” said Whitener. “Coach Gundy came over, it was an emphasis for us today. We’ve got to make sure everyone’s buttoned up and we all know what to do and be able to identify formations and different tips and keys that we have and really just go out there and execute.”

OSU has only won the turnover batter twice in six games. A four-turnover performance against TCU pretty much cost the Cowboys their season opener. To dispatch Texas for the fifth-straight time in Austin, the Cowboys will probably need to win the TO contest for a second-straight game.


Texas has been much better on defense since the abysmal 51-point outburst it allowed Maryland at home in the season opener. They are good at stopping the run and rank at the top of the league in points per drive allowed, defensive efficiency and red-zone defense.

Their one bugaboo is passing defense, especially giving up big passing plays. But the ‘Horns are also the Big 12’s best at forcing opposing QBs into bad decisions.

Baker Mayfield threw his first pick of the year in the Red River shootout, giving Todd Orlando’s group an interception in all six of its games. That’s good for an allowed TD-to-interception rate of 10:9 which leads the Big 12 and is top 15 in the nation.

Add to that the fact that Mason Rudolph has already thrown four interceptions at the halfway point of the season. He had four all of last year.

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