Layna Dewell, News9.com
OKLAHOMA CITY – It's week nine in college football and after two top-five teams found themselves with their first losses of the season Saturday the pressure is on and proper preparation is on the minds of many Big 12 coaches.
Oklahoma's shocking 41-38 home loss to unranked Texas Tech is many teams' prime example and reminder of how easy it is to fall. One slip in preparation or focus can mean all the difference and the Sooners, Cowboys and their upcoming opponents are fully aware and doing all they can to not let what happened to Oklahoma happen to them.
For Oklahoma State, the loss of rival Oklahoma is the perfect motivation for the Cowboys to continue to strive for success in hopes of keeping its undefeated streak alive.
"You try to do everything you can as a coach to stress the importance of trying to play at a high level every week," said Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy. "We're in March madness from Sept. 1 in college football. There's not many opportunities to slip and still continue to be there at the end of the season."
"The best of teams can fall from time to time, we've done it—probably too many times, but it happens," said Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder.
"(Players) sit around all week and listen to the fans. They listen to the media, and when people are talking about the other team not having a chance to win – or you start talking about a game down the road instead of the one that week – it is a very, very dangerous thing," said Texas head coach Mack Brown. "That's why coaches get so paranoid about games each week--all of us have been in one of those and when you've been in one, that's enough. That'll keep your attention for the rest of them."
"Preparation Sunday through Thursday and staying focused and going out and playing hard," added Gundy. "We think that, as a coaching staff, the greatest challenge we have now is getting them to play at a high level 12 weeks in a row."
Oklahoma State now prepares to play Baylor. The Bears enter the matchup on a week's rest and sit at 4-2 overall and 1-2 in conference play.
I think mentally (the off week) was very productive," said Baylor head coach Art Briles. "That's the thing that we felt pretty good about this year since last year we went 12 straight, but this year we have a little break and it gives us an opportunity for our guys to kind of start over again… this lets us press start and try to create an identity again."
"It's certainly a challenge because of everything Oklahoma State does productively on the offensive side of the ball—running and throwing the football. What we're trying to do is make sure we've got our guys cued in on where they're supposed to be and when they're supposed to be there," said Briles.
Oklahoma State (7-0, 4-0) faces a challenge as well, trying to limit Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin.
"You're not going to stop him, you've just got to slow him down and then you have to make more plays on offense than he does," aid Gundy. "He's grown into a terrific quarterback and he is just different—he is a big time playmaker. They're going to make their plays, we just have to make more plays than they do."
Oklahoma turns its attention to Saturday's matchup against the undefeated Kansas State Wildcats.
KSU head coach Bill Snyder says his team is well aware of the fact that any team can fall at any point in time.
"The best of teams can fall from time to time.. it happens," said Snyder.
Bob Stoops, who coached the defensive backs at Kansas State from 1989-1990 and was the co-defensive coordinator from 1991-1995, knows the challenges the Wildcats present and says his team has many things to improve on this week.
"They're very smart in how they play—in how the work their offense, in how they work their defense and so playing against them you have to be equally as disciplined in what you're trying to do—so it's challenging," said Stoops in talking about Kansas State.
But the challenge isn't just for Stoops and the Sooners. Kansas State will try to defend its 7-0 start against an Oklahoma team that head coach Billy Snyder knows will be extremely hungry when it steps on the field Saturday.
"Every week is tough for us and certainly the remainder of our schedule is extremely complex and both are extremely talented football teams," said Snyder. "These seem to be the ones that carry the high rankings and are well deserved so our schedule gets tougher."
"I am going to send Bobby (Stoops) and his team jokes out of the newspaper on a regular basis this week to try and lighten the mood a little bit," joked Snyder who was serious when he added "I know how they will respond."
One of Oklahoma's challenges is limiting KSU wider receiver, and Tulsa native, Tyler Lockett.
Although he is just a freshman Lockett, a graduate of Booker T. Washington, is making a difference on the field for the Wildcats. In six games this season he tallies 12 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns.
"He has great speed and ability of making people miss him and they do a great job fundamentally in gaining him some space in how they block people and things—but he has made a lot of big plays for them," said Stoops.
Oklahoma against Kansas State and Oklahoma State against Baylor both kick off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.