In Wednesday’s paper, I wrote about how Saturday’s game at Boone Pickens Stadium represents a measuring stick of sorts for Texas.
You can read that story here.
Oh how times have changed.
Throughout the history of the Big 12, Texas has typically stood as a source of much frustration for the Cowboys. There have been beatings. And there have been OSU collapses Mike Gundy says he carries with him more than some of his great wins.
OSU’s climb up the Big 12 ladder, coupled with recent UT woes, have flipped things, at least for now. And as the Longhorns seek to add legitimacy to their status as a Big 12 and national contender, this game against the Cowboys – and clashes with No. 9 West Virginia and No. 16 Oklahoma the following two weeks – loom as proving grounds.
But it’s a gauge, too, for OSU.
The Cowboys have beaten Texas two straight years, in Austin, and stand as the reigning Big 12 champs. But the Arizona loss cast some doubt on the defense and now there’s concern at quarterback, where starter Wes Lunt is injured and sure to be replaced by J.W. Walsh.
So opportunity flows both ways.
“I look at it as the same for us,” said Cowboys safety Daytawion Lowe. “It’s a measuring stick for us. It’s our first conference game, we’ve got a ranked opponent out there. It’s really time for us to see if we can bounce back.”
Neither team will likely be defined by Saturday’s game. Not in a conference that hints at great parity and virtual toss-ups for as many as the top eight teams on a weekly basis.
But this meeting does shape up as an early checkpoint.
“I think anytime you play another good team, it sets, at that moment, where you’re at,” said Cowboys offensive coordinator Todd Monken. “As coaches, fans, anybody, we overreact to a big win and we overreact to a loss.
“When two good teams play, someone’s going to lose the game. Someone’s going to lose and you’re going to move on to the next game and hope that in those close games you play, you win more than you lose.
“It’s one of those things where you look at them and say they’re a good football team. I think they look at us and say we’re a good football team.”
Oh how times have changed.
During Monken’s first trip through Stillwater, as a member of Les Miles’ staff, he often lamented of not having enough bullets in the chamber to contend with programs like Texas.
Now, OSU coaches see themselves winning any – and every – given Saturday.
“There was a time when I was here before that you might not have said that,” Monken said. “You’d have said, ‘Gosh, if we do this right… if we’re perfect… if we do all this… we’ve got a shot.’
“I don’t think we feel like that anymore.”