No. 2 Oklahoma State dominant under pressure
For quarterback Brandon Weeden and No. 2 Oklahoma State, winning has become habit-forming.
''Every day is kind of like Groundhog Day for us. I wake up at the same time every day, I eat the same breakfast, everybody does the same exact thing,'' quarterback Brandon Weeden said Monday.
Why change now? The Cowboys are 10-0 for the first time and need just two more wins - Friday night at Iowa State and Dec. 3 against No. 5 Oklahoma - to play for their first national title.
Weeden says he sticks to his morning routine of either grabbing a bowl of Frosted Flakes or stopping by the bagel shop, and the 28-year-old's teammates feed off of his consistency in both demeanor and production. Weeden ranks third in the nation with 363.5 yards passing per game and he's thrown 31 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.
Perhaps just as important as his strong and accurate right arm is how nothing seems to rattle him.
''I think he's just so even-keeled, everybody is completely relaxed and nobody gets stressed out about anything,'' center Grant Garner said. ''I think we have so much confidence in him that we know that he's going to make a play for us.''
With that comfort, even the pressure of being in the thick of the national championship race for the first time seems to just slide off the Cowboys. Heading on the road last week to face Texas Tech - the same team that derailed Oklahoma's bid for a perfect season - Oklahoma State raced out to a 49-0 halftime lead on its way to a 66-6 victory.
About the only flaws on offense were two lost fumbles by running back Joseph Randle, one of them leading to Texas Tech's only points. The defense, maligned for ranking 110th in the nation in yards allowed entering the game, didn't allow a point against the nation's 11th-ranked offense.
''It's a sign that we're on the right track,'' defensive tackle Nigel Nicholas said. ''I wouldn't say we're doing everything the right way because you're never going to be perfect, but you always need to strive for perfection. That's what we harp on.''
Coach Mike Gundy offers the team different inspirational quotations from week to week but with a consistent message to eliminate distractions and take care of business.
''It's the attitude of this whole organization. We're not thinking about what we've done in the past,'' Nicholas said. ''We're thinking about the future, thinking about, `We've got to beat Iowa State, beat OU, beat the next team.' We just like to stay focused and stay humble.''
Oklahoma State is now one of only three undefeated teams left - along with top-ranked LSU and No. 11 Houston- and losses by Stanford and Boise State over the weekend provided fresh reminders of how quickly everything can be taken away.
''You see it across the country, it happens all the time,'' Weeden said. ''Teams kind of overlook an opponent, something happens, they slip up and get beat by a few points. It happens every week.''
The Cowboys just want to make sure that the Cyclones (5-4, 2-4) don't make them the next victim.
''We still have two tough hurdles to cross,'' Weeden said. ''It's just kind of the nature of the Big 12. Everybody can win any given week.
''That alone right there allows you to stay focused. ... We've done a pretty good job of staying focused and dialed in. Hopefully this week will be no different.''