A win over Baylor this Saturday wouldn't stun anybody, but would further confirm the No. 8 Cowboys' standing as one of the nation's elite teams.
Oklahoma State looks to back up its first top-10 ranking in two decades and remain undefeated when it hosts a Baylor squad that's made progress of its own.
The Cowboys (6-0, 2-0 Big 12) were never seriously challenged while winning their first five games. All of the victories came by at least 19 points, but none were against ranked competition.
That changed last Saturday at then-No. 3 Missouri, as Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and Kendall Hunter gained 154 yards on 24 carries, including a 68-yard score. Most impressive, though, was a defense that intercepted Heisman Trophy contender Chase Daniel three times in the second half of the Cowboys' 28-23 victory.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy gave much of the credit for the upset to defensive coordinator Tim Beckman.
"Let me just say that we have a lot of confidence in our defensive staff, and everybody has a job. My job is not to call defenses," said Gundy, a former offensive coordinator. "I have faith in those guys. They watch tape all week. I don't watch the tape."
The win vaulted the Cowboys nine spots in this week's poll, pushing them into the top 10 for the first time since 1988, when Barry Sanders was their star running back. It's their loftiest standing in the Top 25 since they were seventh in November 1985, when Thurman Thomas was an Oklahoma State sophomore.
The highest ranking in school history -- No. 3 -- came in 1984.
My honest opinion is that it takes a while for the people across the country to buy in that they're really developing and building a program in Stillwater, unless you're really here watching it," said Gundy, a former Cowboys quarterback who played with Thomas and Sanders during his college career, which ran from 1986-89. "And justifiably so. You have to earn everything you get."
Oklahoma State is seeking its first 7-0 start since 1945, when it finished 9-0 and won the Sugar Bowl.
The Cowboys haven't lost to Baylor in even longer, falling 13-0 on Oct. 7, 1939. Oklahoma State is 11-1 against the Bears since the inception of the Big 12, including two wins by a combined 111-38 the last two seasons.
Last week, though, Baylor (3-3, 1-1) accomplished something it hadn't done in two years -- win a conference game. The Bears did so in convincing fashion, beating Iowa State 38-10 to snap a 13-game losing streak in Big 12 play.
Freshman Robert Griffin completed 21 of 24 passes for 278 yards and threw two touchdowns to Kendall Wright to pace Baylor, which earned its first league victory since beating Kansas 36-35 on Oct. 21, 2006.
"I haven't been here for the losing streak, but now it's a winning streak," Griffin said.
One win may not constitute a streak, but the Bears did match their largest margin of victory in a Big 12 contest.
"We felt like all along we have a good football team, and maybe we're starting to show it a little bit," said coach Art Briles, in his first year with Baylor after coaching Houston. "We're are starting to climb up to that level. ... Now we've got to keep it going. We can't take a step backward."
Griffin has been the biggest reason for Baylor's emergence, throwing for nine touchdowns without an interception and rushing for eight more scores -- at least one in each game. His favorite target has been Wright, a fellow freshman who caught seven passes for 132 yards -- both career highs -- against the Cyclones.
Outplaying Robinson and Oklahoma State, though, will be a tall order. Robinson dominated last season's meeting, a 45-14 Cowboys victory in Waco on Nov. 17. He completed 16 of 21 passes for 202 yards and two TDs, and ran for a career-high 144 yards with two more scores.
Top 25 Overview
Oklahoma State hopes to avoid a letdown against Baylor after the Cowboys beat Missouri last week. The undefeated Pokes are back in the top 10 for the first time in two decades. OSU is seeking its first 7-0 start since 1945. The Cowboys haven't lost to Baylor for an even longer stretch: They lost 13-0 on Oct. 7, 1939.