STILLWATER — Brandon Weeden always referred to the 2010 Texas A&M game as the launching point to the Cowboys' school-record 11-win season.
And by all accounts, it was a moment that melded Oklahoma State's emerging talent with confidence and legitimate swagger.
To Weeden, the latest takedown of A&M – Saturday's 30-29, higher-stakes conquest at Kyle Field – sets up similarly.
“I gotta think it's going to propel us, just like it did last year,” Weeden said. “You don't want to count your chickens before they hatch. But we've got so many mature guys.
“It's a great win for our program.”
Considering the circumstances, another launch could send the Cowboys to new heights.
A year ago, beating the Aggies propelled OSU into the Top 25.
This time, the Cowboys surged into the top five, garnering widespread national pub that extends from individual players to national title talk.
Time will eventually weigh in on the ultimate significance of Saturday. But most agree, the Cowboys looked good, true contender good. And a rugged road schedule that once looked daunting now sizes up as much more manageable, with the most difficult checkpoint cleared.
Not only did OSU prevail in a showdown of top-10 teams, it did so against a team that made no bones about zeroing in on the matchup since the summer. And a team that apparently harbored a grudge, claiming the Cowboys ran up the score in 2009.
It's an experience the Pokes can pocket and pull out whenever times get tough again in this season. And a team bent on breaking from the Big 12 to the SEC in a big way.
Weeden called the win the best of his career, which does feature a 15-2 record as a starter. Cowboys coach Mike Gundy called it the most satisfying of a head coaching gig already boasting significant milestones.
And for the Cowboys collectively, their second-half statement was a proving point to show any doubters among a national audience just how good they can be.
“That's the way we want to be seen and known,” OSU star wideout Justin Blackmon said.
“I'm not a doubter. I know what kind of team we are. We know what kind of team we are.”
And that's a different kind of team than we've seen at OSU.
How might previous Cowboys teams responded to a 20-3 halftime deficit, on the road, in a raucous environment like Kyle Field? Typically, such scenarios haven't ended well.
Shoot, big halftime leads haven't held up for recent enough Cowboys teams, particularly against that other Texas foe from Austin.
“They've got a lot of heart,” Gundy said of his players. “That's something, in my opinion, that's acquired over years of being involved in our football program. You just don't show up all the sudden, and to go on the road, and play a good football team, and fall behind – there's 87,000 people in there going crazy – and come and fight back and win…
“So, I had a lot of confidence in our staff, and our players believe in themselves. And over a number of years, we've continued to work and get better.”
The comeback road faced a critical juncture Saturday. OSU had trimmed the lead to 20-10, but faced a third-and-15 from its own 26 still early in the third quarter.
An A&M stop might have stemmed the momentum shift. Instead, Weeden found Blackmon for 20 yards down the middle. And soon after, the Cowboys scored again, stealing control of the flow.
And now, OSU has won seven in a row on the road, tied for the second-best streak in the country.
“They've learned how to win and play well on the road,” Gundy said. “I think it's just what they're made of.”