AMES, Iowa — Coming into the 2011 season, there was little question the Oklahoma State Cowboys were talented enough to compete for the Big 12 title.
But what about that rugged conference road schedule?
At Texas A&M. At Texas. At Missouri. At Texas Tech. At Iowa State in mid-November.
“I tended to agree,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “I thought, ‘I wish we didn't have to go to those places.'”
Yet here they are, unbeaten at home and away, trying to finish off a second consecutive undefeated road season tonight against Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium.
And the conference road wins have gotten progressively easier — starting with a 30-29 comeback win at Texas A&M on Sept. 24 and leading up to a 66-6 walloping of Texas Tech in Lubbock last week.
“It was just one game at a time,” Gundy said. “And then at some point, you kind of look back and think, ‘Boy, I'm sure glad I don't have to do this again.' (That) is really the truth. They've just played well.”
The four Big 12 road wins, along with a victory at Tulsa in September, have helped OSU extend its overall road winning streak to 10 games, the third-longest active streak in the nation behind Oregon (11) and Virginia Tech (13).
With the contest against the Cyclones serving as the last road block of 2011 — and the last test before Bedlam on Dec. 3 — here's a look back at how the Cowboys have conquered their Big 12 schedule away from home so far.
Sept. 24: Texas A&M
The task: Win what was regarded as their toughest road game — a top-10 matchup in one of college football's most hostile environments.
The result: OSU rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit to win a 30-29 thriller. Brandon Weeden threw for 230 yards and three touchdowns in the decisive third quarter, when the Cowboys took the lead for good. The defense forced four second-half turnovers. Despite A&M's disappointing performance since, winning in College Station gave the Cowboys national respect and one of their best victories in OSU history.
Quotable: “Three or four years ago, when we were in that situation, guys didn't look the same in their faces in the locker room.” — OSU coach Mike Gundy