And some fixed motivation is good, especially for a team that seemed uninspired in a 20-14 win at Kansas and may have taken on more injury hits with Tracy Moore (ankle), Caleb Lavey (leg) and Isaiah Anderson (finger) all lost and Jeremy Smith limited to one carry before apparently tweaking his already gimpy ankle.
The stakes aren't the same as a year ago. Not with the Cowboys at 3-2 and still in discovery mode to find out just who — and how good — they are. It's still unclear where to plot OSU on the Big 12 success curve, with no signature victories and now three flawed performances through five games.
But if the Cowboys are to re-engage in the Big 12 race, beating Iowa State — a seemingly better-than-2011 Iowa State — moves to the front burner.
In reality, last year's loss in Ames was more about the Cowboys than the Cyclones. Too many mistakes and botched opportunities. Even Mr. Reliable, Quinn Sharp, shoved a likely game-winning 37-yard field goal wide right with 1:17 remaining in regulation.
And yet, all horror shows require a bad guy.
Give the Cyclones some credit for gladly filling that role. They produced a strong game plan that stifled OSU's running game and turned the Cowboys' offense one-dimensional. And a jacked-up Friday night crowd sang and swayed and bopped until the Cowboys dropped.
A forgettable night, for sure, except for OSU, it's impossible to forget.
“It's a big revenge game,” Lowe said. “I know some people don't put a lot on revenge. But they knocked us out of the big dance last year.
“We still think about that.”