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October 22, 2011Another week, another chance for Oklahoma State to prove its lofty worth.
After an entire pre-week of questioning and being tabbed the upset alert de jour, the No. 6 Cowboys travel to Missouri for a brunch date with the Tigers. The 11 a.m. kickoff on FX is OSU's shot to prove the naysayers wrong yet again.
Many are touting this as a tough outing for the Pokes (6-0 overall, 3-0 Big 12) because they'll be facing the Tigers (3-3, 1-2) in Columbia. But OSU hasn't lost a road game since the end of the 2009 season against Oklahoma. Head coach Mike Gundy believes the program is better-suited to survive the tough Big 12 road tests because it has better support.
"We have better players now," he said. "We have more depth. Our players believe in themselves enough to go play the game. A lot of playing on the road is coach's talk. For example last Saturday, there were 100,000 on Texas's team. We had a great crowd, but we only get so many tickets. We had 5,000 on our team for what it's worth. We still have to be able to overcome difficult situations, especially when the momentum swings like it did last Saturday. I do not know what the reason is, other than our players believe in themselves. They just keep playing."
And, as national pundits pick against them this weekend, those players will have to do just that. But they'll have last week's road win at Texas to build off of.
"A win on the road is very important," Jeremy Smith said. "Winning at Texas is something not a lot of teams can do. Beating them was big for us. We have to continue to get better. We know Missouri is going to be ready for us. We have to continue to take care of business."
That means beating a team that is likely better than its record indicates. Mizzou came back from dead against No. 25 Arizona State to force overtime before dropping that one on the road. They hung with No. 3 Oklahoma on the road and lost, 38-28, but was never entirely out of it. Then came the 24-17 loss at No. 12 Kansas State, where the Tigers scored two TDs in the last eight minutes of the game but just missed out on a W. Those were all road games for the Tigers - who are undefeated at home this year. But none of those teams (Miami of Ohio, Western Illinois and Iowa State) can come close to OSU competitively speaking.
"If you look at the games Missouri has lost, (all) were to undefeated teams," said quarterback Brandon Weeden. "Their losses were both close games. They are a good football team. We know we are going have our hands full. They have a good offense. They have a good quarterback. They have a good defense and their defensive line makes plays. It is going to be a battle for us."
But these Cowhands seem cool, calm and collected heading into this one. Hubert Anyiam calls Faurot Field a "pretty tough" environment, but that's not phasing him or his teammates.
"I went down there when I was younger and that was the first impression I had of it," he said. "We went down there and we were underdogs, they were top 10-ranked and everyone thought we were going to lose. We went out there and we got a big win.
That was a good confidence booster for this program. I think right now, that's the reason why we're top 10-ranked because of that game, and then following that up with the '09 year. Last year we had a good season. Going down to Missouri and playing is going to be hard, but we don't fear the away games."