STILLWATER — Sitting comfortably atop the Big 12 South football standings as one of three undefeated teams in the conference, Oklahoma State is in position to compete for its first-ever Big 12 championship.
"It's nothing we didn't expect," cornerback Andrew McGee said. "Everyone else might be shocked, but that's what I said from the get go: 'We want to shock the nation.' Every game, we are going to give it all we got, and we're going to take this thing a long way."
A big obstacle to the Pokes "taking this thing a long way" is Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers visit Stillwater with the nation's No. 1-ranked passing defense; No. 1 pass efficiency defense; No. 9 scoring defense; and No. 9 total defense on Saturday.
Fortunately for Pokes' fans, OSU appears more equipped for success than any offense Nebraska has faced. The Cowboys ranks No. 2 in total offense; No. 2 in scoring offense; No. 3 in passing offense; and No. 8 in pass efficiency.
Thus, when No. 15-ranked OSU hosts No. 13 Nebraska on Saturday, the Huskers' ability to slow the Cowboys balanced attack could decide the game.
And a closer look at the matchup might favor the Pokes.
None of Nebraska's first five opponents rank higher than OSU in scoring offense, total offense, passing offense, and only Kansas State ranks higher than the Cowboys in rushing offense.
Kansas State is the highest rated scoring offense Nebraska has faced at 32.5 points per game. And K-State has been held to 27 points or less in three of their six games.
OSU's lowest point total this season was 34 against Texas Tech last Saturday, and the Pokes could have easily scored more points against the Red Raiders, having taken their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter.
With their consistent balance, the Cowboys have proven they might feature the most versatile offense in the Big 12, if not the nation.
Running back Kendall Hunter already has a 200-plus yard game and is averaging 138.3 rushing yards per game. Receiver Justin Blackmon is coming off a career-best 209 receiving yards and averages 159.2 receiving yards per game.
And Blackmon, a sophomore from Plainview, could be the deciding factor. He will need to consistently win one-on-one battles with Nebraska's cornerbacks, particularly Prince Amukamara, who is rated No. 3 overall on the ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper's Big Board.
"I'm looking forward to it," Blackmon said of the challenge of facing an NFL-level cornerback. "And I'm sure the rest of the receivers are, too."
If Blackmon can force Nebraska to use an extra defender to stop him, it could open opportunities for the rest of OSU's skill position players, particularly Hunter.
"I have a lot of confidence in Justin, and he'll challenge whoever he plays," OSU coach Mike Gundy said. "And I'm sure they're ready to challenge him, so it should be a good battle."