STILLWATER — Melanie Weeden raised up on tippy-toe as if it might help the football find its mark.
“Get up there!” she hollered as the pass floated through the evening air.
Then, a little louder, “Get up there!”
The fade route from her husband was perfect.
When Brandon Weeden connected with Justin Blackmon on the first of two touchdowns against Arizona, a night that ended up being historic for the Oklahoma State quarterback, Melanie Weeden cheered and clapped. She high-fived her mom. She waved her arm to the rhythm of the fight song.
She celebrated just like everyone else inside Boone Pickens Stadium on Thursday night.
The thing is, she isn't like any other Cowboy fan. Her experience on game day is unique because her perspective is like no other.
No doubt there are parents with sons on the field and siblings with brothers in the game. There is even one other wife with a first-string husband; Bailey Garner's husband, Grant, starts at center.
But no one else is married to the man who holds the key to the Cowboys' championship dreams this season.
“It's been kind of an out-of-body experience,” Melanie said of watching Brandon play. “Every day, we go through our normal routine where he's my normal husband.”
To Melanie, he's the guy who occasionally needs to take out the trash or unload the dishwasher.
To Cowboy fans, he's a gridiron giant.
Melanie, then a student at Central Oklahoma, first met Brandon after his rookie year in minor-league baseball. He had been the first pick of the Yankees in the 2002 draft, so the idea that he'd one day play college football seemed far-fetched.
A shoulder injury ended Brandon's baseball career, and in 2007, he surprised Melanie by telling her that he planned to walk on to the football team at OSU.
She's been around sports all her life. She was a swimmer at Moore High School. Her dad, Paul Meuser, is a longtime basketball coach who's been at Preston, Norman, Moore and Tuttle.
Melanie never really liked it.
When she started dating Brandon, the petite brunette didn't know the difference between a running back and a wide receiver. When he started playing, she didn't know the difference between false start and offsides.
Things are different now.
On third and long midway through the second quarter Thursday night, whistles blew and flags flew.
“What happened?” her mother, Sue, asked.
“Offsides,” Melanie said before the referee even made the call.
“I've stepped up my game,” she said proudly.
Just like her husband. Only two years ago, he was the third-string quarterback for the Cowboys, but during another Thursday night game, this one against Colorado, he introduced himself to the college football world. With Zac Robinson injured and Alex Cate ineffective, Brandon took over in the second half. He rallied the Cowboys. He ignited the crowd.
Melanie remembers sitting in the stands that night awed by what she was seeing, what she was sensing.
“Just the excitement we felt that night ... ,” Melanie said, scanning the orange-clad crowd Thursday night as she reminisced about that first Thursday night, “you could feel it through the entire stadium.
“That's kind of when it became real.”
Real and surreal have mixed ever since.
Melanie sees the grind of Brandon's gig. The early morning workouts. The long hours away from the house. The nights spent studying film. She witnesses the aches of practice, the pains of games and the stress of the position.
But she also marvels when she sees fans wearing his jersey or hears students chanting his name.
Games are the payoff not only for Brandon but also for Melanie.
“Somebody I eat with, live with, sleep with ... he's the focus of everything,” she said. “Everybody is watching this person I have a normal life with.”
Last season when expectations of the Cowboys were low, that focus on Brandon didn't faze Melanie much. But after OSU won a school-record 11 games and he became the program's first all-conference quarterback, she is more nervous at games than she ever was a year ago.
“Maybe it's just because there's more riding on this season,” Melanie said, adding that it's not just winning this season but also preparing for the next step in Brandon's career and that next phase in their married life. “We don't even know what we're going to do with our lives ... in four months. That's a big deal.”
Brandon said, “I think she gets more nervous than I do. But I think she enjoys it.”
Thursday night left no doubt about that. She cheered for Cowboy running back Joseph Randle, her second favorite player. She hollered when the defense made a fourth-down goal-line stand. She even groaned when Brandon took a snap early in the second quarter, dropped back and tripped over his own feet.
“That was a Melanie,” she joked.
She smiled and laughed.
“Hopefully our children get his coordination, not mine,” she said.
Sometimes, she hears fans complaining about her husband. He missed an open Tracy Moore on a long pass in the first half against Arizona, and a groan went up from the Cowboy faithful.
Apparently, near perfection isn't good enough for some folks — it was his first miss after starting the game 13 for 13.
“That's OK! That's OK! That's OK!” Melanie hollered as she clapped. “We'll get it next time.”
Get it, they did.
On a night when Brandon Weeden went 42 of 53 for 397 yards and set school records for attempts and completions, no one was happier than his wife. She saw how down he was after throwing three interceptions against Louisiana-Lafayette. She knew how much film he studied in the quick turnaround to prepare for Arizona.
The payoff was one of his greatest days as a Cowboy.
“He's extraordinary,” Melanie Weeden said. “He's just my husband. But then, he gets to come out here and be this superhero one night a week.”
She shook her head.