For some of you, the answer is duh. This year’s defense is the best in the Gundy era. But let’s not forget what the 2011 defense brought to the table. Only one other year have the Cowboys been in the position they are now. Four years ago, the 11-1 Cowboys had as good a resume as anyone, but fell short in the final BCS standings. That team will be remembered mostly for the three headed monster of Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon, and Joseph Randle, but it was the defense that often goes under the radar.
So it begs the question, is this defense better than the version the Cowboys put on the field in 2011?
Statistically, yes. This defense has a slight advantage on numbers alone. The Pokes are giving up 244 yards passing and 147 on the ground. Compare that to four years ago when OSU surrendered 272 yards through the air and 185 on the ground. This team also gets after the quarterback better than any Oklahoma State team in recent years. The Cowboys are second in the nation behind Penn State in total sacks, and junior Emmanuel Ogbah is a big reason behind that. In a conference where half the league can put up 50 on any given Saturday, Oklahoma State is giving up 24 points per game. That’s second to only Oklahoma in the Big 12. If you’re only scoring 24 points against Oklahoma State, you’re going to have a hard time winning games.
At this point in the season four years ago, OSU had gone up against Nick Foles, Ryan Tannehill, RGIII, and Collin Klein. Later in the year they would also face Landry Jones and Andrew Luck. They beat them all. This year's Cowboys have faced Trevone Boykin and Patrick Mahomes. That’s really it. Pure talent also leans toward the 2011 Pokes. Daytawion Lowe, Markelle Martin, Brodrick Brown, and Justin Gilbert made up the true no fly zone. Alex Elkins, Caleb Lavey, and Shaun Lewis, were as good of a linebacker core we’ve ever seen at OSU. An edge goes to this year's D-line with Ogbah but overall talent goes to 2011. The final argument, and also the biggest, the 2011 team created 44 turnovers. 44 freaking turnovers. That’s a statistic that might never be broken in OSU history. Sure this year's defense looks better on paper, but the 2011 defense was elite in their own way.