John Trebilcock hasn't been to an Oklahoma State football game since Bedlam 2011.
Back then, the Cowboy fan had a feeling that was a game he needed to attend.
He has the same feeling about Saturday's game.
“It's a game that you'd go to for a quarter usually,” Trebilcock said of the matchup against lowly Lamar, “but now, it's a can't-miss.
“Everyone who can will be there.”
At the end of a week when OSU faithful found their football program in the crosshairs of a Sports Illustrated investigation comes a much-needed football game. It will be a home opener like no other. It will be part pep rally, part family reunion, part group therapy session.
It will be an orange-tinted love fest.
Indications are that it's going to be a big one. As of Friday afternoon, OSU officials were anticipating a crowd of 58,200.
That would fall just short of the school's single-game record of 58,895 vs. Kansas State in 2011. Just short of a first-ever sellout, too (Capacity is 60,218).
Would it surprise anyone if the Cowboys got to that sellout number?
Not after this week.
Even though the SI investigation has come under fire — several holes have been punched in the accuracy of the reporting — the chance to gather with other Cowboy fans with be a strong draw Saturday.
“I have a feeling this Saturday will be more special than usual,” Cowboy fan Trevor Howerton said. “Poke fans will come together and rally around each other.”
Born and raised in Stillwater, Howerton has been an OSU fan since he was 6 or 7 years old and his granddad Ken took him to his first game. Barry Sanders was playing for the Cowboys.
It was electric.
Howerton was hooked.
Watching the SI investigation rolled out over four days has been tough. Howerton wants the school to clean up anything that's dirty, but at the same time, he's angered by what he sees as shoddy and biased reporting.
“To me, this (game) is a chance to show the nation OSU is not beaten down by this,” Howerton said.
He suspects Boone Pickens Stadium will be more electric than usual.
“Feel bad for Lamar,” he said.
Ditto for Jimmy Bunn.
“The entire team is probably going to take their SI frustration out on them,” the longtime fan said, “and it won't be pretty.”
Bunn graduated from OSU in 1987, and he has worn something orange every day since. Watch. Class ring. Tie. Shirt.
Even when he went to Arizona State to attend law school, he says he drove back to OSU for almost every home game from 1987-90.
The past eight years, he and his three daughters have had season tickets in the west end zone. While he doesn't believe Saturday's game will mean more in light of what happened this week — “It's the same old opportunity to spend time with my orange family, to continue brainwashing my daughters to love OSU as much as I do and to watch the Cowboys' next step to two conference championships in three seasons,” he said — he knows that the SI articles will be a hot topic of conversation.
“I keep in touch with much of my orange family via social media year around, so ... we'll discuss who had the best SI-related tweets this week,” Bunn said.
So, who did?
“That's me,” Bunn said.
Cowboy fans are admittedly in better spirits than they thought they might be when news of this SI investigation broke last weekend.
“Sunday, we were all worried,” said Trebilcock, an attorney who was the OSU student body president in 1993-94 and is now a state representative for District 98. “Now, we're all laughing.”
Like other Cowboy fans, he wants any problems that are legitimized to be fixed. Even so, he won't be thinking much about that Saturday.
It's a day to simply soak in the orange.
That's the reason Trebilcock will drive to Stillwater from Broken Arrow, a trip he wasn't planning to make until the SI report put his alma mater under attack, a trip he hasn't made in nearly two years.
“It's kind of a coming together,” he said, “and I think there will be a lot of people there who haven't been there in quite awhile.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.