Time was, and not that long ago, Oklahoma State's football seasons seemed to center on the Bedlam game.
Whether portrayed as spoilers or upstarts or, in rare instances, favorites, the Cowboys' success has typically been tied to beating the Sooners.
Maybe, just maybe, OSU is moving on.
The reigning Big 12 champion seems to view things differently form its new perch, surveying the season and challenges ahead with fresh perspective.
In an informal player poll, the Cowboys pegged West Virginia as their toughest game of 2012. And while Bedlam ranked as the date they're most looking forward to, it wasn't by much, just edging the opener against Savannah State and West Virginia, with others receiving votes, too.
The sample size was somewhat small, involving 15 players. Yet the poll featured all starters or veterans, so a significant portion of the core charged with keeping the Cowboys moving forward.
Who will be OSU's leading receiver in 2012?
Tracy Moore, the most experienced veteran got the nod. Several receivers, however, voted for themselves.
Tracy Moore: 7
Isaiah Anderson: 4
Charlie Moore: 3
Joseph Randle: 1
Tracy Moore: “Me, I'm the oldest.”
OL Jonathan Rush: “I think Charlie's got a little spark. He's kind of the underdog. Charlie's going to surprise some people this year.”
DE Cooper Bassett: “Joseph Randle has great hands. He is going to be great asset for Wes Lunt. I think he is going to use him often.”
Isaiah Anderson: “It's going to be a good competition between me, Tracy and Chuck. But as a player, I feel like I want to give the edge to myself.”
What team represents the toughest game?
When West Virginia rolls into Stillwater Nov. 10, it'll arrive with a talented team, but also a coaching staff with four former Cowboys assistants, including head coach Dana Holgorsen and defensive coordinator Joe DeForest.
West Virginia: 8
DE Nigel Nicholas: “All of them. After winning the Big 12 championship and the Fiesta Bowl, I feel like we got a big target on our backs.”
WR Josh Stewart: “Coach (Dana) Holgorsen, I'm sure he'll be giving the defensive coaches a heads up.”
K/P Quinn Sharp: “Texas. It's our first Big 12 game. I think that's a big game for us.”
Bassett: “The Bedlam rivalry.”
What is the minimum bowl game that represents a successful season?
The Cowboys played in – and won – their first BCS bowl a year ago, finishing ever-so-close to making the BCS Championship game. So there's still a hunger.
BCS national championship: 7
Cotton Bowl: 5
DB Devin Hedgepeth: “We're definitely shooting for a BCS bowl.”
Sharp: “Cotton. Since I've stepped on campus, we've had at least nine wins every year.”
C Evan Epstein: “I don't think we are going to be happy with anything less than we got last year – a BSC bowl.”
Who is the newcomer you most anticipate watching?
This one was obvious, with Wes Lunt taking over the premium position. Still, we asked.
Wes Lunt: 15
C.J. Curry: 1
Charlie Moore: “Wes Lunt, for sure.”
Hedgepeth: “I'm excited to watch Wes, of course. But I'm really excited to watch C.J. Curry, he's looking like he can be a great playmaker.”
Stewart: “Wes Lunt. First of all, he's our leader. He's got to show up.”
Who is your favorite assistant coach?
Jemal Singleton, the running backs coach, is widely popular, and it extends beyond his position group. Note: not every position was represented in the poll.
Jemal Singleton: 5
Van Malone: 2
Joe Wickline: 2
Todd Monken: 2
Jason Jones: 1
Doug Meacham: 1
Hedgepeth: “Jason Jones. What's really cool about him is he cares about you off the field.”
OL Lane Taylor: “Wickline. He has a ton of stories. He says a lot of funny things.”
DT Anthony Rogers: “I love them all!”
DB Daytawion Lowe: “Coach Malone. He's really down to earth. He gets to know you. He's a people person.”
Tracy Moore: “Coach Singleton. He's always running around joking and making your day a whole lot better than it is.”
What game are you most looking forward to?
Bedlam is always a big favorite. But five different games made the list, including a visit from a certain team that spoiled last year's national title shot.
Savannah State: 4
West Virginia: 3
Iowa State: 2
Hedgepeth (who missed last season to injury): “The first game, just because that will be my first game back in a long time.”
Anderson: “Texas, because I'm from Texas. And they finally have to come here.”
Sharp: “With a bunch of our coaches there – Holgorsen and DeFo and all those guys – I think that's gonna be a fun battle.”
Rogers: “OU, always.”
Epstein: “It always has to be Bedlam. Some people say (last year's win) was a fluke. Some people say we can't do it again. There's a lot of anticipation on both sides for that game.”