NORMAN, Okla. — Ben Powers motivates himself by remembering how Kansas and Kansas State didn’t pursue him as a standout at Kaupen Mt. Carmel (Wichita) High School.
Oklahoma’s starting left guard carries the same mentality when playing on opposing campuses.
"I've been booed all my life and been told I'm not good enough my whole life. Personally, that's just another aspect [of playing on the road],” Power said. “There's nothing better than proving someone wrong and shutting someone up. It's just a great feeling.
"I prefer playing on the road, and I think a lot of guys on our team do as well."
Few would argue that.
Fifth-ranked OU takes the nation’s longest active true road winning streak to Iowa State on Saturday (11 a.m., ABC). If the Sooners (2-0) leave Ames victorious it would mark their 17th straight true road victory, meaning by Oct. 4 it will have been four years since OU’s last loss in an opponent’s stadium.
To date, that’s 16 straight true road wins — eight shy of tying the school record 24 achieved between 1953-58 — and a Big 12 record 14 in a row. Texas had the conference's previous mark of 13 straight from 2003 to 2006. College football’s next longest road streak is Wisconsin (9).
The biggest difference in OU’s first road test this season will be the absence of quarterback Baker Mayfield, who engineered all but two victories in the streak.
So far, Kyler Murray has been fantastic as Mayfield’s heir. He possesses arguably the best receiver combination in the country in CeeDee Lamb and Marquise Brown, and OU is thriving offensively — averaging 56 points in two victories, with seven TDs in seven red-zone appearances.
But scoring struggles are more frequent away from home. And against Iowa State, the Sooners will be without leading rusher Rodney Anderson who is out for the season (knee). It’s been almost a year since OU’s offense ran without him as its lead back.
This remains an opportunity players relish.
"Last year, it was my first year here, so it was an experience," Brown said. "It was just crazy going to other teams' stadiums and hearing their fans. It was so fun to me. I actually love going to away games and playing in front of other crowds."
Iowa State captured a 38-31 victory at Owen Field last October, hitting all the right notes. The Cyclones kept the score close, made big defensive stops late and won the turnover battle.
Iowa State (0-1) might not have quarterback Kyle Kempt (MCL) available Saturday, but figure to provide another good test defensively. Iowa managed just 271 total yards in a 13-3 win over the Cyclones last week.
“[Coach Matt Campbell] has done a great job. If you’ve been playing those guys forever, you know they’re tough kids. They’re hard-nosed kids that play really, really hard,” OU offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh said. “That’s the things that sets good teams apart, is how hard you play down-in and down-out. It’s hard to do, but they do it. They’re a really good defense.”
Saturday also marks the beginning of OU’s quest for a fourth straight Big 12 title. Since the conference expanded from eight to 12 teams, no program has achieved four in a row.
“It’s the tradition here at Oklahoma,” sophomore running back Trey Sermon said. “Our main focus is to just take care of business each week.”
The first stop: Jack Trice Stadium, where OU has outscored Iowa State 229-82 in six games since 1999.
"It's awesome playing here and having 89,000 people cheer you on,” Powers said, “but it's a different feeling when you’re on the road and everyone's booing you."
No. 5 OU at Iowa State
Time: 11 a.m., Saturday
Place: Jack Trice Stadium | Ames, Iowa
Records: OU (2-0); ISU (0-1)
Radio: KRXO-FM 107.7
Nation's longest active road win streaks
1. Oklahoma 16
2. Wisconsin 9
3. Oklahoma State 6
3. Central Florida 6
5. Troy 5