STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -Since Mike Gundy took over as Oklahoma State's head coach, the annual game against Baylor has been loaded with postseason implications - but never like this.
Each of the past two seasons, the lowly Bears (3-3, 1-1 Big 12) provided the Cowboys with the sixth and final win they needed to become bowl eligible. The year before that, a loss to Baylor dashed Oklahoma State's postseason possibilities. This time, it's an entirely different ballgame.
Coming off its upset against Missouri, No. 8 Oklahoma State (6-0, 2-0) already has qualified for a bowl game. What's at stake this year is the Cowboys' potential fate in the Bowl Championship Series, which releases its first standings on Sunday.
to snap its second losing streak in as many weeks. The Bears ended a 13-game skid in Big 12 play by beating Iowa State 38-10 last week but still carry a seven-game losing streak in conference road games.
``We can't take anybody lightly in the Big 12 because it seems like every time someone gets in the top 10, they're slipping out of it right away,'' Oklahoma State safety Andre Sexton said. ``We've got to try and stay focused and keep moving ahead like we want to.''
The Cowboys are on a high this week after starting 6-0 for only the third time in school history and reaching their highest ranking in the AP poll since 1985. The only time Oklahoma State got off to a better start was in their undefeated Sugar Bowl season of 1945.
So this week, Gundy was walking a fine line of letting his players enjoy a win he thinks they'll remember for the rest of their lives while still keeping them focused on Baylor.
``I think our team has handled themselves very well. They understand that you're only as good as your next game,'' Gundy said.
Task No. 1 for the Cowboys will be slowing speedy freshman quarterback Robert Griffin, who has run for touchdowns in each of his first six games and has modest passing totals but nine TD passes without an interception. Under his leadership, Baylor has the first four-game stretch in school history with no turnovers.
M and then had three picks against Missouri's Chase Daniel, who'd thrown only one in his five previous games.
``What we've got to do is just be us. We've got to go up there and play with the same intensity, same emotion, same confidence that we played with (against Iowa State),'' first-year Baylor coach Art Briles said. ``We're still fighting for respectability and credibility and this is a chance to earn some.''
The win last week was the first step for Briles in trying to get the Bears out of their usual spot at the bottom of the Big 12 South, where they've most often been right behind Oklahoma State. The only time Baylor didn't finish last in the division was following that win against the Cowboys in 2005.
And look where Oklahoma State is now.
``What is going on in the Big 12 South this year is evidence of how quickly things can change,'' Briles said. ``You can come out of the box with a good record and the next thing you know you are in the top 10 in the nation.
``We don't want to be a looker, we want to be looked at and that is what we're trying to get to.''
Oklahoma State cracked the Top 25 for the first time in Gundy's tenure two weeks ago and wants to keep climbing.
n said. ``But Baylor is a really good team this year. Everything I've seen from them so far, they have great talent, they're young.
``They're not a team that you just take lightly.''
With renovations to their stadium a step closer to completion, the Cowboys have drawn more than 50,000 fans to back-to-back home games for the first time since 1985 and the atmosphere figures to be festive again with Oklahoma State not only coming off one of its biggest upsets but also hosting one of the country's largest homecoming celebrations.
It's a week when distractions could be at a maximum.
``Our kids know what got them here,'' defensive coordinator Tim Beckman said. ``They know the effort, the hard work that they've done to get to where they're at right now. I think they ought to be excited.''
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