Cowboys Prepare For Houston, West End Zone

Mike Gundy hopes to see more orange Saturday than he's ever seen inside Boone Pickens Stadium, and the Oklahoma State head coach thinks it could make a difference. OSU will have 16,000 seats in the west end zone that it has never had before for Saturday's home opener against Houston, and the stadium attendance record of 51,458 set in 1979 could be broken now that capacity is approximately 60,000.

The Cowboys are coming off an impressive 39-13 victory over Washington State played before a pro-Cougar crowd of more than 50,000 at Qwest Field in Seattle. The Houston Cougars, under first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin, opened the season with a 55-3 win over Southern University.

Houston defeated Oklahoma State 34-25 in 2006 at Robertson Stadium in Houston, but only a handful of current Cowboys played in that game.

"This is a good team we're playing this week," Gundy said during his Monday news conference with the media. "(They are) very athletic and very fast. They can move the ball on offense, and move and tackle well on defense. We'll have to prepare well and have a good week, and be prepared to play well on Saturday."

Gundy said the Houston starters only played about a quarter and a half in the win over Southern in which the Cougars scored 31 points in the second quarter to break open a close game.

Sophomore quarterback Case Keenum completed his first 14 passes on his way to throwing for a career-high 392 yards and five touchdowns. Nine different players caught passes with 6-3, 210-pound wide receiver L.J. Castile (five catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns) and 6-3, 235-pound tight end Mark Hafner (seven receptions for 103 yards and two TDs) leading the way.

"Houston has good team speed, and they rally to the ball (on defense)," Gundy said. "Offensively, they throw the ball around well. Their quarterback does a nice job, they've got skill guys that can run, (and) they'll play two tight ends at times and they'll split them out some, and they'll tighten them down. So they're using multiple formations with the same personnel, which is an advantage for the offense. Defensively, they'll run well and they tackle."

Oklahoma State has 18 players on its roster from the Houston area, including defensive starters Jeray Chatham, Patrick Lavine, Andre Sexton, Orie Lemon, Quinton Moore, Andre Sexton and Ricky Price.

Gundy, maybe in an attempt to downplay the impact it will have on his team, says he doesn't believe the Cowboy players from the Houston area will be inspired to play harder against their hometown Cougars.

"I don't think that factors in, other than them maybe knowing them in high school. We get into such a routine in college football during the season – day off on Sunday, Monday's a long day with practice at night, Tuesday's heavy, Wednesday's a little lighter, and Thursday .... It becomes such a routine that you have to stay focused throughout the season. That's so important," Gundy said.

"I do think the players from Houston will enjoy playing this game because they get a good following from down there. But other than that I think it would be relatively the same."

The fourth-year Cowboy head coach said his players are looking forward to playing in the renovated Boone Pickens Stadium, and what could be a record-breaking crowd. The Cowboys played in front of a record 51,458 people against Oklahoma in what was then called Lewis Stadium on Nov. 3, 1979.

"I don't think there's any question that our players will be excited about playing at home in front of the fans. There's definitely an advantage; we all know that," Gundy said. "The fans have always been terrific and with the new stadium there should be some added excitement. I know they'll be excited to play in front of their friends and family at home.

"This is a loud stadium to play in to start with. I would think now with the enclosure with sound now bouncing off this building and having an opportunity to stay in with this building, there should be some crowd noise. It should be an advantage for us. There should be a lot of people wearing orange here."

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