STILLWATER — Last Saturday in Seattle, Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman couldn't believe that fewer than 51,000 fans were in the bleachers of Qwest Field. It had nothing to do with the attendance, but the noise level. "That place was as loud as the ‘Shoe,” the former Ohio State assistant coach said, referring to the Buckeyes' famed Ohio Stadium, nicknamed The Horseshoe. "It was as loud as anywhere we played in the Big 10.” And it offered proof for Oklahoma State faithful that the volume level inside a stadium isn't only determined by the number of people inside it. Boone Pickens Stadium holds 60,000 fans — not the biggest around, but it could be one of the loudest, thanks to its unique structure. The Cowboys now have a horseshoe, too, thanks to the new west end zone. But few football stadiums have a giant brick wall reverberating 60,000 screams back toward the field. That's just another perk of the Cowboys' redesigned stadium, which opens its doors today for its first game, a 6 p.m. kickoff against Houston. The guts of the new 15,300-seat west end zone — including additional suites, coaches' offices, a new locker room and more — aren't completed yet, but the seating structure is ready for fans. And while past renovations have added to the atmosphere of Boone Pickens Stadium, the new west end zone alters its perception. On the inside, it feels like a completely different facility. OSU continues to funnel money into the football program as it tries to build a product that will lead to more fans, better recruits and a higher winning percentage. But soon, all the building will be completed and progress will only be gained by the product on the field, not the plush stadium around it. Favored by more than two touchdowns, the Cowboys are expected to win today. Last week's victory over Washington State was a signal of progress, and a victory today would be yet another. Because in college football these days, the signs of money well spent only show up in the win column.
By Andrea Cohen
By the numbers•18: Players on Oklahoma State's roster from the Houston area. OSU coach Mike Gundy said he doesn't think revenge for the Cougars' 2006 win over the Cowboys should be an issue. •34-25: Score in that 2006 game in Houston. •0: Players from Oklahoma on Houston's roster. •60,000: Seats at Boone Pickens Stadium. Last time OSU played at home there were 47,000. OSU's attendance record is 51,458. •3: Kickoffs OSU's Perrish Cox has returned for touchdowns in his career. That ties him for the national lead among active players. By Scott Wright
OSU's biggest non-conference home gamesIt might not seem like it, but Houston is one of the toughest non-conference opponents Oklahoma State has hosted in recent history. For all the impressive non-conference road games Oklahoma State has played, the same can't be said for the Cowboys' home slate. Only four ranked teams have played at OSU in the last 30 years. They are: •1978: No. 2 Arkansas defeated the Cowboys 19-7. •1998: OSU beat No. 25 Mississippi State 42-23. •2000: No. 22 Southern Miss defeated OSU 28-6. •2002: No. 23 UCLA topped OSU 38-24 (shown below).