LAWRENCE, Kan. â€” The chant rose out of the orange-shaded corner of Memorial Stadium before the final seconds had even ticked off the clock.
â€œBeat OU! Beat OU!â€
The Oklahoma State faithful can be forgiven for looking ahead a bit prematurely. This week's game against Kansas was over long before the final horn, and next week's showdown against Oklahoma is only the biggest game in program history.
But before we get to that, let's put a wrap on Saturday.
OSU 48, KU 14.
The Cowboys did what everyone thought they would do to the hapless Jayhawks, and yet this was a momentous day. This was regular-season win No. 10. This was a first for the program.
â€œIt's great to be part of history and all that,â€ Cowboy receiver Josh Cooper said, â€œbut we've got to win the next game.â€
â€œLet's get 11.â€
Turns out Cowboy fans weren't the only ones thinking about Bedlam on Saturday afternoon.
The players are well aware of what lies ahead. A rivalry game. A chance to win the Big 12 South. An opportunity to play in the conference championship game.
â€œIt's definitely the biggest game of my life,â€ Cowboy defensive tackle Shane Jarka said. â€œI'm not exaggerating that at all.â€
No reason to think he would be.
This is the biggest game in the program's history. There have been other times when OSU has played with high stakes, but never have they been any loftier than next week. Take everything that's in play for the Cowboys, add in the Bedlam rivalry, and you have a game like no other in program history.
And remember, this was supposed to be a rebuilding year, a transition season.
Heck, most pundits and prognosticators said before the season that Saturday's contest at Kansas would be a toss-up game for OSU.
Instead, everyone was shocked when the Cowboys led the Jayhawks by only six points at halftime.
OSU started slowly, especially on defense. The Cowboys allowed the Jayhawks more yards on their first two drives than they had all of last week against Nebraska. Receivers were running free. Tailbacks were finding seams. Even Quinn Mecham, the third quarterback to start for the Jayhawks this season, was hurting the Cowboys.
Kansas scored touchdowns on two of its first three possessions.
The Cowboy offense had issues early on, too. Even though it scored on all four of its first-half drives, it just didn't seem as crisp as it has been. Big plays were few. Highlights were scarce.
Twice inside the Jayhawk 20-yard line, the Cowboys settled for field goals.
â€œThe thing with having success offensively is that everybody expects you ... to score touchdowns every drive,â€ Cowboy offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen said admitting that he expects the same. â€œWhen you don't score touchdowns every time, everybody asks what's wrong.
â€œI don't think anything's wrong.â€
The Cowboys ended the afternoon with just south of 600 yards of offense. They didn't turn the ball over. They didn't punt even once.
Needless to say, the offense got on track.
Ditto for the defense.
â€œThis was a bit of a trap game,â€ Holgorsen said. â€œBig win last week, and we've got a big game this next week. It's human nature to want to relax at times.â€
The start wasn't what the Cowboys wanted.
â€œBut they did respond,â€ associate head coach Joe DeForest said. â€œChampionship teams respond, and I think that's what we've gotten to.â€
Now, the Cowboys are champions just yet, and if they don't start faster next week, they're likely to find themselves in a huge hole. The Sooners are good enough to take advantage of a lackluster opening.
The same goes for the dumb, unnecessary penalties that the Cowboys committed Saturday. And the missed tackles. And the dropped passes.
But here's the thing â€” the Cowboys know that. They realize they need to be at their best against the Sooners. They understand what's on the line. They know the opportunity they have.
They intend to be ready.
â€œIt's all about OU,â€ Cowboy defensive end Richetti Jones said of the Sooners. â€œAll week, that's all we are going to do â€” eat, sleep, drink OU.â€
What, exactly, does that taste like?
â€œIt's a bitter taste,â€ Jones said. â€œIt doesn't taste good at all.â€
Beat OU, and the fruits of OSU's labor will be worth it. There will be a South Division title, a spot in the Big 12 title game and a Bedlam win to boot.
That would taste sweet.
â€œIt will taste,â€ Jones said, â€œlike the finest wine ever created.â€