October 26, 2009

Long Week of Waiting: OSU/UT game is big

Before the start of this season, lots of hype surrounded Oklahoma State's football program.

Sports Illustrated covers. Lofty rankings. A big non-conference season-opener against Georgia. Players such as Dez Bryant, Kendall Hunter and Zac Robinson mentioned in TV, print and radio. The Cowboys seemingly had everything in front of them. It was looking like THE year of years for OSU.

Then came the Houston game.

That loss, at the time, felt like the OSU train had derailed irrevocably. If OSU can't beat Houston, how could it seriously compete in the Big 12 Conference? A dream year suddenly seemed clouded and uncertain. That perspective was worsened with injuries to Hunter and about 27 other tailbacks, the Bryant suspension and the sputtering of Robinson. It just felt like one bad piece of news was piling on another. Was the dream season over before it started? When would the bleeding stop?

Just in time for Texas, it appears.

As we officially go into game week against the Longhorns, OSU seems to be coming together at the right time. The situation isn't perfect, but the Cowboys have fought through a lot of adversity and only have that one blemish from the Cougars to show for it. Many teams of OSU football past would have totally collapsed after the first sign of negative news, but not this group of drovers. They have persevered and pressed on. Others have stepped up for those not playing (Hubert Anyiam, Dameron Fooks andKeith Toston), while others still have pulled their game together in recent weeks (Robinson). And in the process OSU has quietly dusted itself off and stood firmly back up to fight again.

While it might not have been as smooth as expected, the Cowboys are 6-1, undefeated in the Big 12, 13th in the AP Poll (14th in the BCS rankings) and in great position to win the conference and make one of those big-money bowls.

Whatever bad news or adversity that struck Orange Country before this week can be washed away and forgotten with a win over the Longhorns. Before the season, the Halloween matchup between the orange and black and burnt orange had been circled in, well, bright orange. It looked like a titan clash between two top 10 teams. And while OSU tripped up delivering its part of the bargain, it's not far off. OSU-Texas is one of the biggest games of the weekend and will be televised in the prime time ABC slot.

Make no mistake, this is a game OSU can win. Sure, they're moderate underdogs at home. And sure, OSU has only beaten UT twice all-time (1944 and 1997), but in a year where teams in the top 10 fall like Gerald Ford disembarking from Air Force One, why not OSU over Texas this year? Why not victory?

Stranger things have happened. And on a night where the fans will be ghoulish and the moon nearly full, insanity could ensue. The nation will expect a Longhorn victory, but Orange Country will expect otherwise. Some might call that insane, but this isn't your normal Texas team this year. Nor is it your normal OSU team. Maybe, just maybe, this year the Cowboys punch the Horns and they stay down for the count.

And if that happens, expect all that hype from the preseason to come flooding back - but this time, it would be earned, as OSU has been run through the ringer and is largely unscathed. Redemption is only a Saturday away.

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