COLUMBIA, Mo. — The cheers from the packed orange-clad corner of Faurot Field echoed around the old-timey stadium like golf balls on concrete.
That's because there were tens of Tiger fans left by the time Oklahoma State was done with Missouri on Saturday.
OSU 45, Mizzou 24.
Hey, wasn't this supposed to be a close game?
Go ahead and pick against the Cowboys, Lou Holtz. Feel free to put OSU on upset alert, College GameDay. Doubt this team all you want, pundits and prognosticators.
You do so at your own peril.
For the second time in less than a month, OSU defended the Big 12's honor and smacked down a squad making googly eyes at the SEC. First, it went Texas A&M and beat back the Aggies. This time around, it went to Missouri and won a few days before everyone expects the Tigers to announce their departure.
On an afternoon when OSU dismantled Missouri and gave the Tigers an unceremonial shove toward the door marked SEC, the Cowboys served notice that it's time everyone comes to grips with one unmistakable fact — this is a really good team.
“There's always going to be questions,” Cowboy defense end Jamie Blatnick said. “There's always going to be doubt.”
Why would anyone in their right mind question whether these Cowboys are a stout squad deserving of their No. 4 ranking in the BCS? Why would you look at their body of work through seven games this season and decide that it's all a facade? Why would you watch them destroy the Tigers, yet another upset-minded opponent that fell woefully short, and not come to the conclusion that these Cowboys are going to be in the mix at the end of the regular season?
“You've got to have people that like you, and you've got to have people that don't or it'd be no fun,” said Cowboy running back Joseph Randle, who scored a whopping four touchdowns Saturday. “If everybody likes you, it's boring.”
“It really is.”
OSU must be the least-bored team in the country, then, because it has no shortage of haters.
Count me on the opposite side. This team has the talent, chemistry and attitude to beat anyone. Now, I'm not here to pick a Bedlam winner today, but if OSU isn't undefeated when OU comes to town on Dec. 3, I'll eat my stilettos.
The Cowboys have faced three of the best teams in the Big 12 on the road. At the beginning of the season, everyone considered it a brutal hand for OSU to be dealt, a three-game gauntlet against Texas A&M, Texas and Missouri that could very well derail the Cowboys' championship hopes.
Instead, OSU has rolled through all three.
Average margin of victory: 11.3 points.
And Saturday was by far the biggest in those conference road games, a three-touchdown beatdown of the Tigers on a day that was less-than-perfect for the Cowboys.
In the first half, OSU had a quarterback who couldn't miss and a group of receivers who couldn't catch.
Then in the second half, it had two great offensive options, Justin Blackmon and Hubert Anyiam, sidelined with injuries.
What to do?
In the first half, Cowboy quarterback Brandon Weeden just kept throwing strikes until someone caught them. And eventually, they did. Weeden threw three touchdown passes, the OSU defense forced four three-and-out possessions, and the Cowboys threatened to put the game away before halftime.
Then in the second half, the Cowboys turned to the running game. This is a running game, mind you, that had 45 yards at halftime, but it racked up 150 yards after that. Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith and the Cowboy offensive line played like they'd been marching up and down Faurot Field all day.
How to explain a team able to do all that?
“We've got a good football team,” Weeden said. “That pretty much sums it up.”
“We've got guys who can make a lot of plays.”
That includes the much-maligned defense, which had the two biggest plays of the day.
With the Cowboys clinging to a one-touchdown lead and momentum slipping toward the Tigers early in the first half, Blatnick got one of his paws on a pass and Shaun Lewis intercepted it.
Three plays later, the Cowboys led by two touchdowns.
A few minutes later and Missouri on the OSU 4-yard line, Wilson Youman stripped the ball from Missouri quarterback James Franklin and Lewis came up with the ball again.
Three plays later, the Cowboys led by three touchdowns.
“We talk all the time with our defense about, ‘If you get a turnover, it's going to be a touchdown,'” Cowboy defensive coordinator Bill Young said. “That's what happened today.”
These Cowboys have an opportunistic defense that causes turnovers and a high-powered offense that rolls up points. That has become the formula for a really good football team.
Why doubt that?
“I dunno,” Blatnick said. “People's opinion, that's their opinion and they're entitled to it. We're just going to keep going out here and doing what we do.