STILLWATER — Brandon Weeden did not shy away from calling Oklahoma State's 30-29 comeback victory against then-No. 8 Texas A&M the biggest win of his career.
That's not exactly shocking news, given the stakes and the win's place in OSU history. But it's probably still a vast understatement.
The Cowboys' quarterback was magnificent on an afternoon where he set school records for completions (47), attempts (60) and passing yards (438) while orchestrating the Cowboys' furious third-quarter rally against a top-10 team in one of college football's most hostile road environments.
“He obviously played as good a game as he's ever played here (Saturday),” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “He's got a special gift to throw a football, and I haven't been around anybody that can do it like he can. I would say he could throw 100 of them in a game and it wouldn't bother him a bit.”
It was the type of performance that should officially put Weeden on the shortlist of legitimate Heisman Trophy contenders.
Weeden has proved he is one of college football's premier quarterbacks through the first four weeks of the season, leading the nation in passing yards per game (398) while ranking second in total offense (380.75 yards per game).
“That's what he does,” OSU running back Joseph Randle said. “We see it every day. We kind of take it for granted.”
But an outing like the one Weeden put together Saturday, on the biggest possible stage of the day, is what can make the rest of the country really take notice.
A national television audience watched as Weeden shredded the A&M defense for 230 yards in the third quarter alone and guided the Cowboys on a trio of touchdown drives — it would have been four if Justin Blackmon had not fumbled the ball out of the end zone on his way to a score — that gave OSU a 24-20 lead it would not relinquish.
Also watching were plenty of national media gurus who were on hand to witness the top-10 showdown, including ESPN.com's Pat Forde, Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples and CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd.
Those are the folks that will play a big role in driving Weeden's Heisman campaign.
“Brandon Weeden established himself as a big-time Heisman candidate,” Dodd said in his postgame column.
And the accolades started rolling in after the game.
ESPN nominated Weeden for the All-America Player of the Week, and Lou Holtz gave Weeden a helmet sticker on the network's College GameDay Final show Saturday night. Sunday, he was named the Walter Camp Player of the Week, a Manning Award Star of the Week and the Rivals.com National Player of the Week.
Because of Weeden's age — he turns 28 next month — and clear maturity, sometimes it's easy to forget that this is only his second year running the Cowboy offense.
Weeden admitted to coaches that last year he was nervous before the A&M game. On Saturday, he was the one in the locker room urging his teammates to remember last year's comeback win against the Aggies and making them believe they could do it again.
He's confident and comfortable, both as a player and a leader.
So confident and comfortable that he realizes when he can afford to take a risk.
Forget about Weeden's six interceptions through four games. He knows he has the wiggle room to take a shot against teams like Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulsa. Against teams like A&M, he knows he does not.
The result? Zero picks. And a record-breaking performance.
Weeden is on pace to finish with more than 5,000 yards this season, which would set another OSU record and make him the school's all-time passing leader.
There's no reason to believe he will not get there with his ability and the amount of talent around him. Weeden made a slew of big-time throws on Saturday, but he also got a fair amount of help from his wide receivers, who took many bubble screens and short passes and turned them into big gains.
And now Weeden has the Heisman platform of quarterbacking the No. 5 team in the nation that has already notched a signature win on the road — a win the Cowboys would not have captured without their signal-caller.
The list of Heisman contenders is already crowded with quarterbacks. Stanford's Andrew Luck and Boise State's Kellen Moore came in with preseason buzz. And Weeden faces stiff competition in his own conference in Oklahoma's Landry Jones, an early Heisman favorite, and Baylor's Robert Griffin III, who has also gotten off to a fantastic start.
But Weeden absolutely deserves to be in the discussion for the award — especially if he keeps performing at his best against the best.