The Big 12 race gets started in earnest Saturday afternoon in Stillwater when No. 8 TCU visits No. 14 Oklahoma State.
It's never easy to play at Boone Pickens Stadium and Saturday will be the first time the Cowboys play in front of their home crowd since taking the field two weeks ago in a daze just hours after the tragic event killed four people and injured many more during Oklahoma State's homecoming parade.
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Since then, Oklahoma State players have visited victims recovering from in the hospital and various tributes have taken place across campus. The team will continue to wear, as they did last week at Texas Tech, a sticker on their helmets to pay homage to the victims.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to them," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "I mean, it's ... Stillwater, OSU, coach (Mike) Gundy, all of them -- you know, they've been through quite a bit. You really have to just wait a moment in silence and understand that everything that just went on, it put things in perspective when it comes to football."
It was already going to be an emotional scene, and with the on-field stakes of this matchup so high, both teams will likely be battling adrenaline as much as each other early on. Oklahoma State and TCU boast identical 8-0 overall records and 5-0 Big 12 marks. The loser will take a significant hit to its conference title chances and its playoff hopes with Oklahoma and Baylor still on each's schedule.
"I don't think it's going to be any more emotional than the other ballgames we've had on the road," Patterson said. "We've had some very emotional, some very big crowds. It's always a great place, because they love their football in Stillwater. It's always a great ballgame to be a part of.
"If you want to win championships, you've got to be able to go do that. You've got to be able to play in those kind of environments."