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Fiesta Bowl matchup with Northern Illinois would be ideal in Mike Gundy's world

Win the Big 12 with a Bedlam victory Saturday, and OSU is headed for the Fiesta Bowl against the kind of foe Gundy craves. Mid-major.
by Berry Tramel Published: December 5, 2013

Mike Gundy has made it clear. He wants to dumb down the Cowboys' nonconference schedule.

This time, OSU athletic director Mike Holder won't stand in Gundy's way. Win the Big 12 with a Bedlam victory Saturday, and OSU is headed for the Fiesta Bowl against the kind of foe Gundy craves. Mid-major.

With a victory Friday night in the Mid-American Conference championship game, Northern Illinois will make a major bowl for the second straight year. And since the Fiesta has last pick in the BCS rotation this season, Greater Phoenix will have to settle for the Huskies the way the Orange Bowl settled last season for a Florida State-Northern Illinois matchup.

And Gundy will be happy even should Bowling Green upset Northern Illinois in the MAC title game. The American Athletic Conference, which is the remnant of the old Big East, has an automatic BCS berth for one last season. Which means Central Florida or Cincinnati is headed for the BCS. So if it's not Northern Illinois, it's UCF or Cincy headed to Phoenix.

Not exactly Stanford with Andrew Luck, the matchup the Cowboys enjoyed and survived two years ago, with a 41-38 overtime victory in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Fiesta is out of OU's grasp, much to Bob Stoops' chagrin. He likes trophies, we all know that, but this year, he would like the Fiesta matchup as much as anything.

The Sooners seem likely headed for the Alamo Bowl, where a rugged matchup with a Pac-12 school awaits. Probably Oregon, maybe Stanford.

A relatively young OU team that has produced just one smooth-sailing victory since mid-September could use a breezy bowl opponent. Or at least one not likely to take your lunch money.

But barring an unlikely fall to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, or a rise to the Sugar Bowl against the American champ, and OU is headed for a much tougher assignment.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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