STILLWATER — The Oklahoma State football team will be playing in a January bowl for the second straight year, though it may not be the way the Cowboys would have preferred.
OSU saw its bowl position drop on Sunday all the way to the last Big 12 affiliated bowl — the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which is held Jan. 1 at the Cotton Bowl, against Purdue out of the Big Ten.
“The bowl is a surprise to us,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said in a teleconference Sunday night. “The good thing is we play on January 1st, so it gives our players a chance to have a number of practices before we let them go home for the break and spend Christmas at home before bringing them back a couple of days afterward.”
Despite finishing fourth in the conference standings, the Cowboys — which share the same overall record as Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia — slid to the eighth selection among Big 12 bowls. The Cowboys lost to just one of the four teams that landed in a better bowl than the Pokes.
“If you’re referring to a numbering system based on your finish in the league, obviously it doesn’t matter where you finish in the league,” Gundy said. “... The only thing that I don’t understand is why if we have a numbering system in our conference but our conference doesn’t follow it.”
The dominos started to fall when a one-loss Northern Illinois had done enough to secure a non-automatic qualifier berth into the BCS, effectively taking the at-large bid that many projected would go to Oklahoma. The Sooners then became the selection of the Cotton Bowl — the first to pick among Big 12 bowls.
Earlier on Sunday many were projecting the Pokes to land in the Alamo Bowl — before Oklahoma slid down to the Cotton. Because of the shift, the University of Texas got pushed down to the Alamo Bowl and the mayhem began for OSU.