Monk's Trip to Stillwater for OSU-Baylor: Thoughts on the Emerging Cowboys

SportMonkAnalyst IOctober 23, 2008

I was in Stillwater for OSU's homecoming festivities last weekend and the victory over Baylor. Might I add that as a Nebraska fan, I was a little intimidated. Homecoming was certainly like nothing I'd ever seen and OSU has a right to the claim of "greatest homecoming in the country."

I was born and raised in Oklahoma, so I'm familiar with the Pokes. I remember the days when they were just ridiculously awful and were a guaranteed win (like Texas A&M is now, for most D-I or D-II schools--or FCS or whatever the "less offensive" name for teams not good enough to play with the big boys unless the big boy is Michigan). I remember when the Bedlam game would be an afterthought, until OU started to suck too in the 90s.

My first visit to Stillwater, in matters of college football, was in 2006. As a Nebraska fan who still had a hope (albeit a false one) for the Huskers, I visited OSU's stadium (pre-Boone Pickens) with close OSU friends of mine for the OSU-Nebraska game. I was excited when Nebraska got up early and disappointed when Nebraska pulled a typical Callahan-era crumble in the second half to lose.

I wasn't impressed with either the stadium or the fans. The east-west alignment of the field still confounds me, the empty west end zone screamed to be occupied by an expansion (which Boone heard) and the fans were boisterous and passionate but rude and unsportsmanlike. The stadium seemed really quiet compared to Memorial Stadium in Lincoln and the Cowboys still seemed new to the whole "winning" thing.

This last trip was TOTALLY different. Stillwater has a new swagger.

The Cowboys are a national powerhouse. The fans displayed a new-found sense of sportsmanship to the Baylor fans (much better treatment than I received as a Cornhusker in foreign territory two years before that). Boone Pickens' gifts to the athletic program were very visible in the Cowboy stadium's face-lift. The west end zone, previously devoid of anything, now houses the rowdy student section and a fresh new section of stadium. It was loud and I was caught up in doing the "O-S-U" chants with the crowd.

I loved Stillwater and the entire game day environment on campus. I'm happy the Cowboys are doing well.

Times have changed. OSU is not the pushover they once were. In fact, I am not afraid at all to say that Oklahoma State is far better than almost all the teams in college football.

The first BCS rankings of the year have Oklahoma State at No. 6. I would have put them at No. 5 (come on... USC? Are you kidding? West Coast bias not obvious to ANYONE ELSE yet?), but maybe that's just me.

The Pokes have an explosive offense led by quarterback Zac Robinson, one of the best of the Big 12's powerful quarterbacks this year. His favorite target is Dez Bryant, who has gained more than 800 receiving yards and notched 11 scores.

OSU's defense is no joke, either. They are a quick and powerful force to be reckoned with and look forward to a chance to taking a crack at No. 1 Texas and that pretty-boy quarterback the Longhorns have.

I've always wondered whether OSU or OU would win as my second-favorite team. Frankly, I don't think I want to choose.