Following last season's Fiesta Bowl win, an appearance in the Heart of Dallas Bowl could be an understandable letdown for OSU.
Cowboy coach Mike Gundy admits his team was disappointed when it slipped to the bowl that picks eighth in the Big 12 pecking order, despite finishing tied for third in the final conference standings. But he added the Cowboys are now way past that, partly because he won't let the players forget that a bowl game is a privilege.
As part of a school-record stretch of seven consecutive bowl appearances, the current OSU players have only experienced finishing the season in the postseason. But there was, of course, a time when that was not the habit. The Cowboys went through bowl droughts from 1989-1996 and from 1998-2001.
“There's no question that message has been conveyed to the team,” Gundy said. “I coached 11 years without ever getting into a bowl. Never coached on a winning team.
“So you learn to appreciate winning and being in a bowl game, because, ultimately, that's the reward for the team and the families and the wives and the children and everybody.”
HIGGINS: RB BOLDEN WILL PLAY
Purdue quarterback Robert Marve's ongoing knee problems have been well-documented.
Shockingly, though, Marve isn't the only Boilermaker who's suffered three torn ACLs.
Senior running back Ralph Bolden tore his third ACL last November. He missed the entire 2010 season with an ACL tear, and tore his first as a senior in high school.
The oft-injured Bolden hurt his hamstring during a 63-yard run at Illinois on Nov. 17 and missed Purdue's regular-season finale, but will play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Oklahoma State, Higgins said Saturday.
“Those kids ... their drive and what they bring to the team and their work ethic, and just their resiliency, is awesome,” Higgins said of Bolden and Marve.
Bolden needs 53 yards against Oklahoma State to become Purdue's 12th all-time back to rush for 2,000 career yards.
“He's a very physical runner,” Higgins said. “He's got great balance; he'll throw his body around; he'll block. Anytime you can add that person to the mix, it can do nothing but help your situation.”
BOWL ACTIVITIES MIX GIVING BACK, FUN
A bowl trip features a variety of off-the-field activities for players and coaches, and the Cowboys have been kept plenty busy in Dallas.