In 2010, coming off a home loss to Nebraska and highly vulnerable without a suspended Justin Blackmon in Manhattan, the Cowboys gutted out a 24-14 win that restored their status as a legitimate contender, eventually leading to the school's first 11-win season.
And the intriguing and impactful matchups with K-State extend back to the Les Miles era, with a 44-9 wipeout loss in Manhattan in 2002 eventually being credited in fueling a turnaround that sparked a run to the Houston Bowl.
So, what makes the series with Kansas State so defining?
“It's always a big game,” said Cowboys senior defensive end Tyler Johnson.
And often eventful.
OSU's first-year defensive line coach, Joe Bob Clements, spent 16 combined years at Kansas State as a player, staffer or full-time assistant. And the games with the Cowboys, he said, always stood out.
Some more than others.
“I would say the last two, definitely,” Clements said. “Coming down here and playing them close, but losing at the end two years ago, that was a great atmosphere and a great game. And when they came to Manhattan last year, they'd had a lot of injuries and were playing some guys who didn't have a whole lot of experience at key positions and they played a heck of a football game. And they banged us up a little bit for the rest of our games.”
This time, still seething from poor play in last week's loss at West Virginia, for the Cowboys there's a need to gain some juice for the remaining games. One way or the other, Kansas State figures to be recalled as a swing game.
“It's about now,” Johnson said. “And I'm excited about this one coming up.
“Anytime you come off a loss, you want to come back strong. We want to come back better and get this W.”