DALLAS – Oklahoma State and Purdue will finally play again – 15 years later in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
The Cowboys, one of five Big 12 teams who finished with a 7-5 record in the regular season, and Purdue (6-6) from the Big Ten were chosen Sunday as the participants for the New Year’s Day game played at the historic Cotton Bowl stadium.
It is a rematch of the 1997 Alamo Bowl won 33-20 by the Boilermakers, then in their first bowl in 15 years and then-coach Joe Tiller’s first season.
The teams had a home-and-home series scheduled after their bowl meeting, but those games were never played.
Purdue is searching for a new coach after Tiller’s hand-picked successor, Danny Hope, was fired after compiling a 22-27 record over four seasons.
That decision came last weekend, a day after the Boilermakers ended the regular season with a 56-35 win over archrival Indiana, their third consecutive win after a five-game losing streak that included an overtime loss at undefeated Ohio State.
The Boilermakers are in consecutive bowls for the first time since 2006-07.
“I am happy for and proud of the 20 seniors on our team,” Purdue athletics director Morgan Burke said. “When we were sitting 3-6, having lost five straight games, many people gave up on this group. But those seniors, and other leaders in the locker room, didn’t quit and didn’t let their teammates quit.”
Oklahoma State is in a bowl game for the seventh consecutive season, a school record, and is 4-2 in postseason games under coach Mike Gundy. The Cowboys were part of the BCS last season, beating Stanford in overtime in the Fiesta Bowl.
“Wherever the conference sends us is where we go,” Gundy said. “I can only say I’m surprised we’re in this game.”
When asked about his potential interest in other coaching jobs, including his name being rumored for the Tennessee vacancy, Gundy said he had spent his Sunday “around the house” and wasn’t interested in such talk.
“I’d just prefer to not talk about anything other than Oklahoma State and the bowl game,” he said.
The Cowboys ended their regular season with a 41-34 loss at Baylor on Saturday, a week after their overtime loss at Oklahoma. Their 5-4 Big 12 record tied for third in the conference with Texas (8-4), which won the head-to-head matchup in Stillwater in the regular season and will play in the Alamo Bowl.
Gundy does like playing on Jan. 1, which provides more opportunities for practice before a Christmas break, and said playing in Dallas “is easy for our people to get there.”
The Heart of Dallas Bowl, known by another name the last two years since its inception, is played at the Cotton Bowl. That stadium, which has been updated and renovated, was built in 1921 and was the host of the Cotton Bowl until 2009.
Oklahoma State played a Cotton Bowl in that stadium 10 years ago, losing to a Mississippi team led by Eli Manning.