AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -When oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens gave $165 million to Oklahoma State athletics, part of his dream was to lift his alma mater from the backwaters of Big 12 football into national championship contention.
Rising all the way to No. 7 heading into Saturday's game at No. 1 Texas, the Cowboys and their benefactor have a chance to take a huge step toward that goal.
The question now is whether they can avoid a meltdown similar to the one that has socked the economy and Pickens' investment in OSU.
It's boom or bust time for the Cowboys (7-0, 3-0 Big 12).
``The vision has always been there,'' Oklahoma State safety Quinton Moore said. ``I've always had the vision of being a big-time football team, a No. 1-ranked football team.''
big hits. The economic downturn has cost Pickens more than $1 billion in his personal fortune and slashed the hedge fund that held OSU's money.
Anything less than a near-perfect game against the streaking Longhorns (7-0, 3-0), and the Cowboys' bubble of good fortune on the field could burst as well.
Texas quarterback Colt McCoy is the guy holding the needle.
The junior established himself as the midseason favorite for the Heisman Trophy with a 29-of-32 passing performance last week in a 56-31 win over Missouri. He is completing 81 percent of his passes and after seven games still ranks as the Longhorns' top rusher with 371 yards and six touchdowns.
Even Florida QB Tim Tebow, who won the Heisman last season, said if he was voting this week, he'd vote for McCoy.
``I just want to win. That's the most important thing,'' McCoy said. ``If we win all our games, then maybe some awards will come.''
Finding a way to contain McCoy is just one of Oklahoma State's problems. The bigger one may be mental.
Oklahoma State is 7-0 for the first time since 1945, but Texas has won 10 in a row in the series thanks in part to some gut-wrenching collapses by the Cowboys in recent years.
In 2004, Oklahoma State led 35-7 in the second quarter and lost 56-35. In 2005, the Cowboys led 28-9 at halftime and lost again. Last year, Texas rallied from 21 down in the fourth quarter to win 38-35.
8,000 screaming fans that will pack refurbished Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and the Cowboys would seem to be dancing on the razor's edge psychologically.
Texas coach Mack Brown dismisses the past.
``This is by far their best team,'' Brown said. ``We're not talking about a 4-7 Oklahoma State team that got up on us. We're talking about an Oklahoma State team that is undefeated and has a chance to play for a national championship.''
In a league full of top-notch quarterbacks, OSU's Zac Robinson might be the most under-appreciated.
Robinson is completing 70 percent of passes, but what makes the Cowboys really difficult to stop is their rushing attack that grinds out 283 yards per game.
When the Cowboys throw, it's usually to Dez Bryant, the sophomore who has 809 yards and 11 touchdowns on 45 catches. Bryant also has two punt returns for TDs.
Texas, which gives up an average of 48 yards rushing, has yet play a team that has tried to push them around at the line of scrimmage.
``With all these spread teams we have nowadays, you get so used to trying to pass rush, some people forget about the run,'' Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston said.
Saturday's winner still won't have a clear path to the Big 12 South division title, let alone the national title.
M are down the road.
Oklahoma State still has to play Texas Tech and No. 4 Oklahoma in November.
Win Saturday and get through that stretch and the Cowboys will be well on their way to realizing Pickens' master plan.
``There's a lot of buzz going on,'' Robinson said. ``It's a lot of fun to be a part of.''

Recent NCAAF Discussions

Handicapping 2017 Win Totals on Sun, May 2017 by Blade
2017 NFL Draft Grades on Sun, Apr 2017 by Blade
Betting the 2017 NFL Draft on Tue, Apr 2017 by Blade
NFL Draft Preview on Tue, Apr 2017 by Blade
2017 Heisman Odds on Wed, Mar 2017 by Blade

NCAAF Headlines

NCAAF Top Stories

Thumbnail Alabama still favored to win CFB Title Oddsmakers still favor Alabama to win the 2017 College Football National Championship, but which other teams are in the mix?

NCAAF Team Pages