Before Bedlam, it was possible to map a path leading the Cowboys to a BCS berth.
A loss ended that.
Before Baylor, buzz circulated about the Cotton Bowl considering OSU as either an alternative to Texas — which was balking at facing old pal A&M — or an appealing opposite to Les Miles and LSU.
Another loss ended that.
So the Cowboys were sure to fall.
And they did.
While tied with four other league teams at 7-5 overall, and actually with tied for third in the Big 12 with Texas at 5-4, OSU slid past them all — Baylor, TCU, West Virginia and Texas Tech — to the league's last slot in the pecking order, the Heart of Dallas Bowl, formerly known as the Ticket City Bowl.
Which begs the question, who did the Cowboys tick off?
A consistent winner with name recognition. Exciting offense. Wins over three of the four teams they're tied with overall. A fan base that's proven to pack up and follow in large numbers.
Yet OSU was passed on and on like some Dirty Santa gift.
All the day's bowl buzz went bust in Stillwater, with the list of those unimpressed by the Cowboys' bowl destination ranging from fans and players on Twitter to the head coach's office.
“Was I surprised that we're in this bowl? Yes,” said Mike Gundy, “because I hear the feedback from (the media) and others that says possible Alamo. And then the system says, after the Alamo, is the Buffalo Wild Wings and then San Diego (Holiday Bowl).
“We finished tied for third in the Big 12. If you're referring to a numbering system based on where you finished in the league, obviously it doesn't matter where you finished in the league.”
The opponent — it's 6-6 Purdue, by the way — hardly registers. The Boilermakers went 3-5 in the Big Ten, finishing fourth in the Leaders Division.
“I don't know a lot about Purdue,” Gundy said, echoing the knowledge of most around these parts.
Oklahoma gets former league rival and Heisman front-runner Johnny Manziel in the Cotton Bowl.
The other Big 12 pairings:
Texas vs. Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl.
TCU vs. Michigan State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Baylor vs. UCLA in the Holiday Bowl.
West Virginia vs. Syracuse in the Pinstripes Bowl, which isn't about the matchup, but a holiday season in the Big Apple and a game in Yankee Stadium.
Texas Tech vs. Minnesota in the Car Care of Texas Bowl.
All those, with the exception of Tech-Minnesota, offer intrigue.
Even Iowa State landed an opponent the Cowboys would rather have — Tulsa — while getting bounced out of the Big 12 slots into the Independence Bowl.
After Saturday's loss at Baylor, Gundy questioned media members on OSU's bowl possibilities. Sunday, he reiterated why he doesn't bother monitoring the situation.
“That's why I really never worry about it,” he said. “Wherever the conference sends us, that's where we go. Obviously, the conference sent us to this bowl.
“We prepare and we go play. I'm sure Purdue's excited about being there.”
Will the Cowboys be excited? Their fans?
At 11 a.m. in the old Cotton Bowl stadium inside a deserted Fair Park on Jan. 1?
Remains to be seen.
On the bright side, the Cowboys are in a bowl, for the seventh straight season, extending the program's record streak. And it's a game, by all accounts, they should win, allowing them an opportunity to put a positive final image on a season that spun awry late.
“The good thing is we play on Jan. 1, so it'll give our players an opportunity to have a number of practices before we let them go home for the break,” Gundy said. “Christmas at home, then bring them back a couple days afterward.
“It's a good trip for our fans, easy for them to get there. I can't imagine we won't have a big crowd there.”