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.
Friday night, OSU had a suite for the Mavericks' game against the Denver Nuggets. Saturday, some players helped put on a football clinic for local children, while others volunteered at the North Texas Food Bank.
“You never know how good you have it until you help somebody else out, and we learned that doing this today and it made us feel good,” wide receiver Isaiah Anderson said. “It's good to represent your school and family in a positive manner.
“Coach Gundy preaches that to us all the time so we just make sure we exemplify that in the community and spread the wealth around.”
Saturday night, the Cowboys went to a performance by the Blue Man Group, the popular music and comedy troupe that features men in blue makeup.
PURDUE HOPES TO PROUDLY REPRESENT BIG 10
The Big Ten's football reputation has taken a beating of late.
Purdue is motivated by the opportunity to enhance the conference's stature in the Jan. 1 Heart of Dallas Bowl against OSU, Boilermakers interim coach Patrick Higgins said Saturday.
“We just want to do the best we can and represent the Big Ten,” Higgins said. “We're just gonna go represent the Big Ten. We don't care what conference it is; we want to show them that Big Ten football is quality football, and that's what we plan to do.”
Five-loss, unranked Wisconsin claimed the conference championship and a Rose Bowl berth by beating then-No. 12 Nebraska 70-31 in the Big Ten title game.
The Badgers finished third in the Leaders division, but advanced to the Dec. 1 title game because Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten) and Penn State (8-4, 6-2) are each on probation and ineligible for postseason play.
COWBOYS — AND GUNDY — JAM TO MICHAEL JACKSON AT PRACTICE
OSU's practices often feature a soundtrack, and Saturday's music selection was Michael Jackson.
Who was responsible for those tunes?
“That's me,” Gundy said. “I'm a big Michael Jackson fan. A lot of times, some players that are this age don't really say anything. But then if you watch them as practice goes on, they all know the songs. They just don't like to admit it.”