“They get to come watch us play,” said OSU wide receiver Josh Stewart, another Denton Guyer product, “and if we perform well, it might make them want to come. It's good to go play at a place like that, where a lot of good athletes are, and they get to see our team live, first-hand.”
Mostly, it's those Dallas-area players already on campus – and their families – who benefit the most from games in their own backyard.
Once players are dismissed for a break in Stillwater and Norman, and return home, it'll be the rest of the teams eventually coming to them, reporting to bowl practices in their hometown. For parents and siblings, the biggest challenge becomes securing enough tickets for family and friends, not making travel arrangements, or debating whether they can even afford to travel.
“It's really cool,” said Cowboys senior center Evan Epstein. “I have a lot of people who wouldn't normally get to come see a game who can come and watch, and it means a lot, being my last game in college. It's a cool opportunity.
“And after the game, I get to jump in the car and drive 30 minutes and be home. You can't beat that.”
OSU cornerback Justin Gilbert said at least 15 family members are planning to see him play in Dallas.
“Gonna be pretty exciting,” Gilbert said. “Some people that have never seen me play college football before.”
And for those Cowboys and Sooners who aren't so familiar with Dallas, there are plenty of tour guides. OSU gets a game in a classic old stadium, the Cotton Bowl. OU enters the grand palace that is Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
“We have players from all over – California, Florida – who think Dallas is a cool city,” Dvoracek said. “Yeah we go there for OU-Texas and it's the State Fair, but then you're in and out. At the Cotton Bowl, you really get to see Dallas.
“I think we had a ‘Beef Eat Off' at a local place. They did a great job. They give out great bowl gifts, which is great for the players.”
Being home for the holidays isn't completely stress-free. There are a lot of people to see. And a lot of people checking in, looking for tickets.
“Yeah, a lot of my mentors and high school coaches. Friends of our family,” Epstein said. “I just hope I can get enough tickets for them.”
So the Sooners and Cowboys aren't in Miami or Phoenix or San Diego or New Orleans or even on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. And, yeah, they were aiming higher, with good reason.
Still, there's much to embrace.
And, it seems, something to prove.
“We're excited about playing,” Stewart said. “We want to go to bigger bowls, but we've got to work with what we've got.
“We definitely want to go to this bowl and prove a point that we deserved better.”
Stephanie Kuzydym contributed to this story