STILLWATER — When asked if Oklahoma State deserved more national respect following a 45-24 victory at Missouri on Saturday, Mike Gundy said he really does not mind the opposite treatment.
“I just assume kind of just lay low as much as we can,” Gundy said.
That won't exactly be possible anymore.
OSU only jumped one spot in the BCS standings Sunday, but the No. 3 Cowboys (7-0 overall, 4-0 Big 12) made a gigantic leap in the national title picture.
That's what happens when two unbeaten, top-10 teams go down later Saturday night, including Oklahoma. That's what happens when OSU becomes the squad sitting right behind the two big dogs from the SEC, LSU and Alabama, ready to slide into the No. 2 spot after those two teams play each other in two weeks.
How will the Pokes respond? Well, we really don't know, because OSU has never been ranked this high in the BCS standings in program history.
OSU and Clemson are the newcomers in a group of schools with plenty of BCS experience. LSU and Alabama have captured national titles in the past decade, and Oregon and OU have played in at least one championship game. Stanford and Arkansas played in a BCS bowl last season, and Boise State and Kansas State have done the same in previous years.
This is new territory for the Cowboys. But there's already evidence to suggest they are equipped to handle the pressure that comes with their newfound status.
OSU came back from 17 points down at halftime to win in College Station in a matchup of top-10 teams. It became the first squad in 100 years to win back-to-back games in Austin. It handily defeated Missouri on the road in a game that many experts thought would be an upset.
The Cowboys have won nine games in a row away from home and are officially done with the hardest part of a difficult road slate. They just keep passing test after test.
But it's not just the results. It's the attitude that radiates from players and coaches. It's almost nonchalant, yet composed.
Brandon Weeden leaned against a wall outside the OSU locker room Saturday and mixed in a story about slamming his finger in the laundry room door in between analyzing the play of the Cowboys' running game and defense in the second half. There's a similar sense of calm when talking with Grant Garner, Markelle Martin and others that are the leaders of this team.
Still, the Cowboys' remaining five games now look tougher than they did at the start of the season.
Kansas State, which visits Stillwater on Nov. 5, is off to a surprising 7-0 start and has climbed to No. 8 in the BCS rankings. And OSU goes to Lubbock the following week to face a Texas Tech team that pulled off the biggest upset of the season so far by winning in Norman on Saturday.
“What gets your attention is it can happen to anybody at anytime,” Gundy said.
The good news for Gundy is that, because of the early kickoff in Columbia, his players were home in time to watch that Tech-OU game unfold. They could have watched previously undefeated Wisconsin lose to Michigan State on a Hail Mary pass, as well.
Technically, there is no history to draw on to provide clues on how the Cowboys will react to its high place in the BCS picture. But look at the history of the past two months, and there are plenty of answers.