Finishing the season in a bowl game has become a regular occurrence for Oklahoma State players and coaches, with the Cowboys' Cotton Bowl matchup against Missouri marking their eighth consecutive bowl appearance.
But for first-year offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, this is a new experience.
He played football at Division II's California University of Pennsylvania and coached almost exclusively in lower-level football — other than two seasons as a graduate assistant at Indiana that did not finish with bowl games — before coming to OSU.
Will he allow himself to take it all in?
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “I love everything about it. The preparation that we're able to have and being able to practice for it and being able to go down there in Dallas, it's gonna be a fun event.”
OSU FB STALEY, MIZZOU RB JOSEY SHARE SIMILAR COMEBACK STORIES
When asked about Kye Staley finishing out his six-year OSU career in the Cotton Bowl, Cowboy coach Mike Gundy compared his comeback journey to Missouri running back Henry Josey.
Josey, like Staley, suffered a devastating knee injury late in the 2011 season, which caused him to miss all of 2012.
But Josey has recovered in a big way, going over 1,000 yards for the season in the SEC championship game to become just the second running back in school history to hit that clip twice in a career.
“I don't know the young man,” Gundy said. “But I'm guessing that he was like Kye in that he just refused to listen to people tell him that he couldn't play.”
Staley, meanwhile, has shaken off some early-season injury troubles to remain a powerful lead blocker at fullback for the Cowboys. He's even gotten the ball on occasion down the stretch, recording nine carries for 32 yards and two touchdowns.
GUNDY READY FOR FIRST NFL GAME
As part of the Cotton Bowl team festivities, OSU players and coaches will attend the Dallas Cowboys' game against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium on Dec. 29.
That will, somewhat surprisingly, be Gundy's first time seeing an NFL game in person.
“Wrong time of year,” Gundy said.
Really? Never even went to a professional game as a kid?
“There were no NFL teams around here,” Gundy said, adding that he believes his wife, Kristen, and one of his sons went to Redskins game when Mike was an assistant at Maryland.
LEWIS A FINALIST FOR THE BOBBY BOWDEN AWARD
Cowboys linebacker Shaun Lewis is a finalist for the Bobby Bowden Award, an honor given by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for a college football player who epitomizes the term student-athlete.
Requirements for the award include conducting oneself as a faith model in the classroom, on the field on the campus and in the community. The player also must have the backing of the school's athletic director and head coach.
The other finalists are Mississippi punter Tyler Campbell, Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer, Oklahoma offensive lineman Gabe Ikard, Texas A&M offensive lineman Jake Matthews and Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood. The winner will be announced at the FCA Bowl Championship Breakfast in Irvine, Calif., on Jan. 3.
Former OSU tight end Billy Bajema won the award in 2004.