Despite having to replace both offensive and defensive coordinators, Oklahoma State was voted by Big 12 media members as the preseason favorite to win the conference.
The Cowboys offense, led primarily by sophomore quarterback J.W. Walsh, took a while to get going on Saturday but eventually picked up in a 21-3 win over Mississippi State in Houston.
But it was Oklahoma State's defense—the side that gave up just a field goal all day to the Bulldogs—that grabbed our attention.
And a couple of turnovers as well.
A significant problem for Oklahoma State's defense a year ago was its inability to force turnovers, which becomes more important when a team's total defensive numbers were as subpar as they were for OSU in 2012.
Against Mississippi State on Saturday, the Cowboys, under first-year defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, picked off two passes and could have brought in a handful of others. Whether the ball was on the ground or in the air, OSU's defense typically had bodies around.
And when the Cowboys offense couldn't score to begin the game, the defense kept it close.
Mississippi State won the time of possession battle in the first half and ended up sustaining three long drives during the game of at least 12 plays. Yet they only had three points to show for it all.
The opener couldn't have gone much better for Spencer, who had a rough game as acting defensive coordinator last year in a 59-38 loss to Arizona while then-DC Bill Young recovered from a medical procedure.
Oklahoma State will face better offenses this year, but what the Cowboys showed Saturday was encouraging. The ability to win the turnover battle and stop drives at crucial moments will pay dividends to this team, and consider that a majority of the programs in the Big 12 this year are breaking in new quarterbacks as well.
Judging by the way it played today, the Cowboys defense could be feasting on turnovers again this year.