There is no better example than Kansas.
You would not have known it from the Jayhawks 52-point loss Oklahoma State, but Kansas was coming off its best game of the year when they arrived in Stillwater.
Sporting a 1-5 record on Oct. 23, the then-winless Jayhawks took Big 12 powerhouse Oklahoma to the wire. While the strong Kansas showing has been chalked up to a fluke — it would have been KU’s first win over OU since 1997 — there is a trend that has emerged.
OSU’s opponents are coming in hot.
It’s not just the Jayhawks. The last five Cowboy opponents have played their best game the week before their game against OSU.
Texas played OU to one score at the Cotton Bowl and Iowa State beat Kansas State. Kansas had its aforementioned performance before coming to Stillwater and West Virginia beat a ranked Cyclone before hosting the Pokes.
“Yes, it has been crazy…but like I said we just focus on us right now,” running back Dominic Richardson said. “Working what we need to get better on. Just seeing that, we don’t take notice. The next opponent is going to be pretty strong. No matter what. That's the mindset.”
Fittingly, the Cowboys next opponent is riding a similar high. Texas Tech defeated ISU 41-38 for its second non-Kansas conference victory.
Coach Mike Gundy said the trend could help his team stay focused in weekly preparations.
“Oh it could be,” Gundy said. “With players, there's so much going on and there's so much information out there with phones and technology. Maybe they see and play well and say 'OK, I need to practice well,' but they're still young people. They're 19, 20, 21. They need to be motivated, mentally charged.”
OSU is 4-1 over the stretch, winning every game by multiple possessions mixed around a loss to Iowa State.
Opponents putting others on watch with sparkling performances have helped the Cowboys in preparation.
“It does for sure,” Richardson said. “Seeing that, it gives us fire. Like, ‘We need to get ready for the next opponent now.’”
Gundy considers the fire Richardson speaks of a necessary ingredient to his team’s success.
The Cowboys are ranked No. 9 in the country, but they are not like a past Gundy team that experienced great success.
This Cowboy team relies on stringing together good weeks of focused practice to maintain the momentum of teams gearing up to play them.
“I've said this from week one,” Gundy said. “We're not a good enough football team to not practice well all week long and beat somebody on Saturday. Period. So I've told them that. When Brandon Weeden was here and that team, I didn't tell them that because we were a good enough team. We could not play well and still win.”