STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) In recent years, Oklahoma State has been mostly defined by its high-powered offense.
This season, the defensive unit has helped the No. 15 Cowboys jump out to a strong 5-1 start and go 3-0 in the Big 12.
The Cowboys' offense has been inconsistent, including a running game that ranks 98th in the nation with just 3.8 per carry. Yet its defense - with two freshmen, three sophomores and seven first-time starters - has performed admirably. Sophomore defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and senior linebacker Josh Furman, a first-year Cowboy who transferred from the University of Michigan, exemplify the OSU defense's blossoming stars.
Following a 27-20 victory at Kansas last weekend, the toughest part of Oklahoma State's conference schedule is still to come, beginning with Saturday's road game at No. 12 TCU. Also still on the docket are matchups with formidable Big 12 foes No. 14 Kansas State (Nov. 1), No. 4 Baylor (Nov. 22), and No. 11 Oklahoma (Dec. 6).
''I still don't know how good we are,'' OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. ''We've done what we're supposed to in some games, but we haven't played the top teams in the conference yet. I don't want to label us as having arrived or as a good defense right now, because that's still a question mark.''
After TCU put up 58 points last weekend in its three-point loss to Baylor, trying to at least slow down the Horned Frogs' quarterback Trevone Boykin will be a challenge.
''They are a very good football team, a very fast football team, well-coached and able to manufacture a lot of points on offense,'' OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. ''We definitely have our work cut out for us.''
At first glance, the numbers don't necessarily reflect well on Oklahoma State's defense: fifth in Big 12 play in total defense (402.3 yards per game) and tied for fourth in scoring (36.3 points). But in other categories, the Cowboys measure up, especially against the run. They've allowed 108.3 yards per game, which ranks second in Big 12 play.
Ogbah has been a bright spot for the Cowboys, registering a school-record 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks against Kansas. On the year, he is seventh in the nation with 9.5 tackles for loss, and his five sacks matches Furman for 15th overall.
''He's becoming a leader,'' freshman defensive tackle Vincent Taylor. ''Whenever we need a big play from the defense, Ogbah is one of the players you can count on to make that play.''
Furman, who started three games for the Wolverines last year but wasn't able to pin down a regular spot in the defensive rotation, has helped solidify the linebacker corps.
''Furman is at the top of our conference in a lot of stats, and he hasn't even been here a year,'' Gundy said. ''It's based on his maturity, it's based on his experience and based on his age.''
''They're learning on the run right now,'' Gundy said. ''We're just trying to get them growing up really fast.''