While the mere mention of Houston is like opening up an old wound, the good news for Cowboy fans as the season draws ever closer — Jamie Blatnick hasn't forgotten either.
And when the OSU football team trailed Louisiana 21-17 at halftime last season, Blatnick took it upon himself to make sure his teammates hadn't forgotten the Cougars.
"(The Cajuns) were up at halftime and I remember going into the locker room and I was just ticked," Blatnick said. "I was just thinking about the year before where Houston beat us and I was like, ‘This is not happening this year. No way.' I did everything in my power to make sure I got the point across to them — we weren't going to have another Houston.
"We are not going to have another one this year either."
And while Blatnick is determined to make sure the defense remembers the pain of losing to Houston, senior quarterback Brandon Weeden recalled another game that was all-to-close a season ago.
"I remembered how similar it was to the Troy game, we were just kind of flat," Weeden said. "We just went in at halftime flat, that's what happened last year in the Louisiana game. We showed up and expected to win and get by on our athletic ability alone and when you play at this level you can't do that. I think the guys that were here last year will remember that. It was a terrible first half, we didn't play great in the second half, but we played good enough to win."
The parity in college football is one reason for slipups and close calls but the primary reason, according to Weeden, has been a lack of focus.
And this team learned from the 2009 season — and even last year's struggles in a 41-38 nail biter with Troy and first half issues with ULL — and focus will not be an issue in 2011.
And, despite low expectations surrounding the Louisiana team, they will be hard to prepare for because of an entirely new coaching staff and an unsettled battle at quarterback.
"Obviously, it's just like going into a game blind," defensive coordinator Bill Young said. "They know everything we're going to do and we don't know anything they're going to do so it's a little concerning."
Young continued by describing how difficult it has been to scout what they expect from the new staff in Lafayette.
"That is a tough thing. We've gone back and looked at film of Northern Alabama and Mississippi State and Central Michigan. We're kind of covering the waterfront," he said. "Really you've got to scan them all because don't really know. You don't have a clue. You see what you read in the paper and that's about it."
Concerning? Sure, but not nearly as concerning as it would be if the Cowboys were looking ahead to next Thursday's date with Arizona on national television.
That won't be the case and, as Weeden put it, this team knows what it takes to win and no opponent will be taken lightly.
"After this past year and all we accomplished, we're going to start fast that first quarter (against ULL), come out early moving fast and kind of run them out of the stadium," Weeden said. That's going to be our game plan going in."
Blatnick said it would be foolish to overlook the Cajuns because of what happened last season in OSU's rather deceptive 54-28 triumph.
"In college football anybody can beat anybody on any given day so it's one of those things where you can never ever come into a game expecting them to just roll over and score 50 points on them and go home," Blatnick said. "It's never going to work that way; that's why you have to attack each game to prevent having those games where teams sneak up on you."
And Blatnick is positive this one won't be sneaking up on anybody in orange — there will be no Houston this year.