STILLWATER, OKLA. The thought of playing Colorado brings back fond memories for Oklahoma State linebacker Paul Duren.
The Cowboys senior considers his only game against the Buffaloes to be the best of his career, in part because it includes his favorite play.
When the teams met last year in Boulder, Duren intercepted a Joel Klatt pass and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown to ice a 42-14 Cowboys win. An option quarterback in high school, the interception runback was the only score of Duren's college career.
"Any time you score a touchdown on defense, you don't get that chance very often," said Duren, who led Oklahoma State in tackles his first two seasons and was second last year.
Duren also dove to make another interception and had five tackles as Oklahoma State jumped out to a 28-0 lead.
"I'd like to have another highlight game like that," Duren said. "It'd be big for us."
Even without a flashy game from Duren, Oklahoma State's defense has proven stingy under new coordinator Vance Bedford, who came to the Cowboys from the Chicago Bears. The Cowboys (3-0) have given up only 23 points through three games and rank third in the nation in scoring defense.
"He's more of an attack-style defense," Duren said. "I think it's fit our personnel real well."
Foes no matter
Colorado coach Gary Barnett said it doesn't matter that the Cowboys have played a Division I-AA team in Montana State and two Sun Belt Conference teams, Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State, in their first three games.
"We have to discount the teams they have played and just look at their production," Barnett said. "We have to figure that we're playing a pretty good football team."
The Cowboys were outgained 445-429 during the blowout win last season, and Colorado had 318 yards passing. Barnett blamed the loss on "foolish mistakes," which included leaving receiver D'Juan Woods completely uncovered on a 53-yard touchdown pass and allowing Prentiss Elliott to go against one-on-one coverage for a 58-yard touchdown catch as time ran out in the first half.
Barnett compared the game to last week's 23-3 loss at 12th-ranked Miami, when the Buffaloes (2-1) had three turnovers and several dropped passes.
"Hopefully that kind of game is over for us this year since we had it last week," Barnett said.