Said Cowboys lineman Parker Graham: “It's a big opponent for us. It's not Savannah State. We know the opponent is going to be ready for us. Having that mindset going into that first game is really going to help us, I think.”
Gundy's concern is focused on later, when the grind of the season kicks and the schedule closes with consecutive games against Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma. The Bedlam game doesn't take place until Dec. 7, carrying the season across 15 Saturdays.
“I think everybody has an opinion,” Gundy said. “We have an opinion. It's a pretty hot topic right now. I know that our season has been extended. So we've now almost asked college players to carry an NFL-type schedule on their bodies.
“If we were playing a different-type game for the first couple games, we wouldn't pick up the pace until the middle of September to try to do the best we can to take care of and protect our athletes and give them the best chance for success late in the year.”
And unlike recent seasons, the Cowboys are away from Boone Pickens Stadium for three of their first four games. While Saturday's contest is a neutral site matchup at Reliant Stadium, it's not a home game.
“It's a road game for us,” Gundy said. “There's a big advantage in playing in (Boone Pickens Stadium), and we're not playing here, so it's basically a road game.”
In contrast to the Gundy and Holder flap over scheduling, Mullen was the one who convinced his athletic director, Scott Stricklin, that taking on the ESPN-proposed game was a good idea.
Scheduling issues have smoothed some in Stillwater, although Gundy hasn't budged on his stance and Holder signed on for a game against Florida State in Dallas to open next season.
“We've always talked, and we'll continue to talk,” Holder has said. “He wants to play all his games in Stillwater, and I'm in the same camp. But it's not always practical or possible to do that.”