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Purdue to play Oklahoma State in Heart of Dallas Bowl

Updated: January 4, 2013 6:18AM



After winning its final three games to become bowl-eligible, Purdue on Sunday was rewarded with a bid to the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

The Boilermakers (6-6) will play Big 12 opponent Oklahoma State (7-5) at 11 a.m. on Jan. 1 at the Cotton Bowl Stadium, televised by ESPNU; it’s their first New Year’s Day game since the Capital One Bowl in the 2003 season, a 34-27 overtime loss to Georgia. Last season, in their first bowl appearance since 2007, they topped Western Michigan 37-32 in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

With Purdue having dismissed Danny Hope after four seasons and Cincinnati’s Butch Jones reportedly its top target to fill the position — he interviewed on Sunday in West Lafayette — wide receivers coach Patrick Higgins has been serving as interim coach for the Boilermakers.

“It’s going to be a great experience,” said Higgins, who also has been acting as offensive coordinator with Gary Nord incapacitated by a severe back injury. “We just can’t wait to go down there and start the day off against a quality opponent. We’re going to have such a great time that we’re going to have smiles on our faces all the way down and all the way back.”

Purdue certainly had visions of reaching a higher-profile bowl. But given the way the season unfolded, including a five-game losing streak that left them at 3-6, the Boilermakers are welcoming the chance simply to be playing another game. It’s especially meaningful for seniors such as sixth-year quarterback Robert Marve, who continues to play with a torn ACL in his left knee, and East Chicago defensive tackle Kawann Short.

“It’s a blessing,” said Marve, who apparently set a school record for completion percentage (66.2) this season. “It’s been a roller-coaster year, it’s kind of crazy. We’re looking forward to the opportunity now. … We lost five in a row, now we’ve won three in a row, so hopefully we can get the fourth. We’re looking for the ‘W.’ We know we have to put a lot of hard work into practice getting ready. But we’re extremely happy about the bowl game, we’re extremely happy to be in this position, and there’s no other way we’d rather go out than with a win.

“I think it’s awesome to play in January. It’s something I watched when I was a kid growing up.”

Short passed up last year’s NFL Draft to return for his final season.

“We never doubted it, we never questioned it,” he said. “We had high expectations for ourselves. … We knew we were going to get to a bowl game, it didn’t matter which one.”

The Boilermakers were the No. 7 bowl team selected from the Big Ten, behind Minnesota, as well as Michigan State. Their other likely destination was the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, with that game in Houston landing the Gophers. The per-team payout for the Heart of Dallas Bowl (known as the Ticket City Bowl in its first two seasons, with the Big Ten going 0-2) is $1.1 million, compared to $1.7 for the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Purdue will return to Texas for a postseason game for the first time since the 2004 Sun Bowl in El Paso, a 27-23 loss to Arizona State. The Boilermakers will play a bowl game in Dallas for the first time, after having played in the Sun Bowl three times (1-2 record), the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio twice (wins in 1997, against Oklahoma State 33-20, and ’98), and the 1979 Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston (defeated Tennessee 27-22).

Purdue has played two regular-season games at the Cotton Bowl (tie against SMU in 1965, win against Texas A&M in 1967), which has hosted the second-most bowl games, behind only the Rose Bowl.

“I couldn’t be happier for the players, particularly the seniors, and the staff to have the opportunity to play in probably one of the most historic venues in college football,” Purdue athletics director Morgan Burke said. “… We’re one of five Big Ten schools playing on Jan. 1, and that’s the day you’re supposed to be playing in a bowl game. We’ll get to lead off the day, and get them off to a fast start.”



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