AUSTIN, Texas — Bring up Oklahoma State's 12 consecutive losses to Texas from 1998 to 2009, and Tracy Moore will simply take your word for it.
“You're breaking news to me,” the Cowboy senior receiver said. “All I'm aware of is the past four or five years that I've been here.”
Similar reaction from sophomore cornerback Kevin Peterson.
“I've only been around 19 years,” he said with a laugh.
The No. 12 Cowboys and No. 23 Longhorns will square off Saturday afternoon at Royal-Memorial Stadium in a game with plenty of Big 12 title implications. It's being viewed by OSU as a tough road contest against a streaking opponent with big-time athletes.
But after back-to-back wins in Austin in 2010 and 2011 — plus last season's close (and controversial) defeat in Stillwater — the mystique of the Texas brand doesn't exist with this current group of Cowboys. The shock and awe of venturing into Royal-Memorial Stadium is gone.
“Our players that play in our games now have won so many games and played in so many big games that they just go compete against anybody,” coach Mike Gundy said. “I don't think it really matters to them who they play anymore.”
Need more evidence that many of OSU's players don't know — or don't care — about historical context?
Moore vaguely remembers the Longhorns playing for the national title some time “kind of recent” (his freshman season in 2009). Peterson remembers the Vince Young national championship game being the first time he really noticed Texas, but his perception changed in recent years.
“Over my past high school years, Texas really hasn't popped out to me as just, like, a mystical team that can't be beat,” he said, “the promised-land team and everything like that. With the success we've had against them the past couple years … I know that they're beatable, I know that they're not just the God of college football teams.”
Of course, Texas' decline since Colt McCoy's busted shoulder likely cost the Longhorns a second championship in five seasons coincides with OSU's surge to national prominence.
After that, the Longhorns went 5-7, 8-5 and 9-4 in a three-year span complete with quarterback troubles, staff overhauls, clear misses in recruiting and questions about coach Mack Brown's ultimate future. OSU, meanwhile, compiled 31 wins over that time, where Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon made magic at a sparkling new Boone Pickens Stadium and the Cowboys captured their first Big 12 title and BCS Bowl win.
Some Cowboys certainly are still aware of and appreciate the Longhorn history.
Charlie Moore, whose parents and older brother went to Texas, grew up going to Longhorn games. Safety Daytawion Lowe said it would be difficult to ever erase the “image” of Texas brand from his memory bank. There are 71 current Cowboys from the state, though only one (freshman receiver Ra'Shaad Samples) was offered by Texas, according to Rivals' database.
And OSU certainly recognizes what the Longhorns are doing right now.
Texas has won six straight since back-to-back losses to BYU and Mississippi, which resulted in the firing of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. It's a turnaround quite similar to OSU's five-game winning streak following a stunning upset loss at West Virginia in late September.
Which means the Cowboys won't overlook the Texas or downplay the importance of Saturday's showdown, especially when both teams control their own destiny to capture the Big 12 crown.
But the days of the trip to Austin being daunting? Those are the days of yesteryear.
“We just try to look at every opponent the same,” Charlie Moore said. “Texas is Texas, and they have great players out there. But every Saturday we line up against great players. It's the next game.”