Houston-area Cowboys want payback vs. Cougars

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

A trip to the barber shop back home the past few months has turned into an invitation for ribbing for veteran Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung.

Oklahoma State safety Ricky Price also has heard all he wants about the Cowboys' 34-25 loss to Houston two years ago.

So it's understandable that both -- among 16 Houston-area products on the Cowboy roster -- are looking forward to this week's game against the Cougars.

"I go to the barber shop and the first thing that comes out of their mouths is that they're still bragging about that game," Okung said. "You hear a lot about it. That was one that a lot of people didn't expect. But we've got to get back and remember that we definitely want to return the favor this season. We need it."

OSU coach Mike Gundy stops short of saying his team was hungry for payback against the Cougars, who are led by first-year coach Kevin Sumlin, a former Oklahoma assistant.

"I would like to think revenge is never a factor," Gundy said. "Preparation, hard work that goes into the week and going out and executing on Saturday should be important enough to our team. I know from a coaching standpoint that's the way we see it. I'd like for the team to feel the same way. It's not something we would ever ask them about.

"They have a very good football team, a very athletic team. They have quite a bit of team speed. We'll have to play well in order to win."

The Cowboys did that in their opener, particularly on defensive, in a convincing 39-13 triumph over Washington State. OSU jumped out to a 15-0 halftime lead and limited the Cougars to just 196 yards of total offense, including only 51 yards on their first 28 plays.

Okung was a key producer as the Cowboys rolled up 367 yards and dominated the game late in the trenches by scoring two late touchdowns that iced the victory.

Price set the tone from the secondary, forcing a fumble after sacking Washington State QB Gary Rogers in the opening quarter. He provided five tackles and a pass breakup and also was a part of a scintillating effort by the OSU special-teams unit.

The big plays included a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Perrish Cox and a 42-yard punt return by Dez Bryant. Because of the other talent, Price said he was surprised to even be on the field running back punts.

But he made the most of his opportunity, producing a 68-yard punt return that helped set up a late scoring drive.

"It was shocking to me that it opened up so quickly," Price said. "I didn't even think I'd be out on the field. But the coach told me to go out there, the ball got in my hands and I just tried to make a play. I just did it from there."

Most preseason observers picked the Cowboys to finish in the middle of the South Division, behind OU, Texas and Texas Tech. Okung said their strong start should be an indication that OSU should merit inclusion among those contenders.

"This is definitely a season for Oklahoma State," Okung said. "This is our chance to be on ESPN and to be showcased. That's what we're striving to do. We were close last year, but we just want to finish things when we have the opportunity."

Even if it means quieter trips to the barber shop in the future.