STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -Separated by about 500 miles and playing in different conferences, Oklahoma State and Houston wouldn't immediately seem like the kind of rivals that would have any sort of bragging rights at stake on the football field.
But for players like Oklahoma State defensive tackle Shane Jarka and Houston running back Chris Wilson, Saturday's game hits home.
The two are next-door neighbors in the Houston suburbs, and whoever's team wins gets to talk trash when the offseason rolls around. The same goes for 15 other players who headed north from the Houston area to play in Stillwater as part of the team's primary recruiting pipeline.
oach Mike Gundy said. ``It'll always be important when you play teams from the state of Texas that you perform well.''
Gundy has credited associate head coach Joe DeForest for establishing fertile recruiting grounds in Houston. But there's now a strong enough Houston base in Stillwater that the flow is self-sustaining.
``Everyone knows everyone and they're like, `Well, if he's coming from a similar background and he's succeeding there, then I can succeed there, too,''' Jarka said.
The Cougars and Cowboys have split the opening two games in a three-game series that started in 2006. Each team won on its home field, with OSU claiming a 56-37 victory in Stillwater last season after trailing 16-7 in the first half.
This time, the fifth-ranked Cowboys carry their highest ranking since 1985 into a showdown between two offenses that were among the top six in the nation last season.
``I'm really interested to see where we are as a program,'' said second-year Houston coach Kevin Sumlin. ``Going up there right now and playing is a great thing for us. We're looking forward to it. If we play as good as we can play, everyone will be happy. If we play as good as we can play but it's not enough, that's OK, too.''
ton State had fewer than 200 yards.
And then the Cougars came to town for a shootout.
Quarterback Case Keenum threw for 387 yards and 4 TDs and also ran for a team-best 81 yards, only to be outdone by Dez Bryant's career-high 236 receiving yards and four touchdowns - three receiving and one on a punt return.
With new defensive coordinator Bill Young leading the way, the Cowboys hope their days of simply outscoring the competition are through.
``We wanted to make our defense better than what it has been,'' said Jarka, who forced a key fumble in the Georgia win. ``We kind of don't want to be overshadowed anymore by our offense. We want to make that name for the defense, too.''
Houston opened its season by tying Arkansas for the most passing yards in the nation last week, with Keenum throwing at least four TD passes for the seventh time in his last 14 games.
Gundy said he sees no reason why Keenum couldn't be playing for a Big 12 team and not in Conference USA.
``We're going to play a very good football team that can score a lot of points and is very dangerous,'' Gundy said. ``The good side to that is I think our players understand that from watching tape of last year.''
The Cougars, though, know from last year's experience that they can hang with the Cowboys' high-scoring ways and they're eager to make up for a missed opportunity.
``It's exciting to think what could happen and we're confident with the talented team that what we have,'' Keenum said. ``If we come out and do well and be successful then this game is going to mean a lot.''

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