Consider that they gave up 7.7 yards per pass -- and 59 points -- to Arizona just three weeks ago.
Coach Mike Leach pointed out the statistical disparity in the dessert drubbing during a postgame radio interview.
"If you take the drives that start with a turnover, we make them look like the most explosive offense there is," he said.
Aside from allowing the Sun Devils to score on a 17-yard touchdown run by D.J. Foster after Taylor Kelly found him for a 42-yard completion down the right sideline on second-and-13 at their own 35-yard line, the defense had a stellar outing in the beginning of the game.
The front seven harassed Kelly all through the first quarter, resulting in negative-27 yards of total offense. The veteran-heavy group dominated the line of scrimmage as Kache Palacio, Destiny Vaeao, Daniel Ekulele, Xavier Cooper and Darryl Paulo each recorded a sack on Kelly during the opening period.
Leach said he felt the defense was much more focused when the offense didn't commit a turnover. The Cougars surrendered 31 points in the second half and their young secondary seemed overmatched at times.
"It’s all in our heads," he said. "We’re not overcoming adversity."
Redshirt freshman quarterback Luke Falk acknowledged that the Cougars were felled by "just not finishing drives."
But, he added, "I thought the defense played well in the first half."
BITTERSWEET DAY FOR MAYLE
Senior wide receiver Vince Mayle was one of the few bright spots in the offensive effort, setting the school record for the most receiving yards in school history, with 1,404, and the most receptions in a single season, with 101.
His school-record 15 passes for 252 yards marked his sixth 100-yard game of the season.
Still, he said, the achievements rang hollow in the face of defeat. "It obviously sucks," he said in a postgame radio interview. "We didn’t win. It would’ve felt a lot better with all that with a win."