Dallas Colleges: Kawann Short

A closer look: Heart of Dallas Bowl

December, 20, 2012
As the bowl season approaches, we're going to be looking a little closer at each game. We'll go down the Big 12 bowl schedule in chronological order.


Oklahoma State (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)

Where: Cotton Bowl, Fair Park, Dallas, Texas

When: Tuedsay, Jan. 1, noon ET


About Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State knew 2012 wasn't going to be easy after running away with an outright Big 12 title in 2011. That's what happens when you lose two of the best offensive talents in school history, receiver Justin Blackmon and quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Cowboys suffered a frustrating early-season loss on the road to Arizona, plagued with penalties and turnovers. OSU fixed some of those problems as the season went on, but after winning five of six games in the middle of the season after a loss to Texas that opened conference play, OSU ended its season with a pair of close, painful losses on the road to Baylor and Oklahoma. That sent OSU tumbling from a possible BCS bowl to the Big 12's lowest bowl tie, a game I affectionately refer to as the Zombie Cotton Bowl. The stage is a far cry from last year's primetime matchup against Andrew Luck and Stanford, but the challenge for OSU is staying motivated against an overmatched opponent and a less-than-exotic location.

About Purdue: It's never a good thing when the best accomplishments on your schedule are losses. For Purdue, though, that's definitely the case. The Boilermakers lost an early-season matchup to undefeated Notre Dame by just three points, and in October, lost to 12-0 Ohio State in overtime after giving up a game-tying score in the final seconds. Purdue rescued an 0-5 start in Big 12 play with three consecutive wins to close the season, but those three wins to move from 3-6 to 6-6 came against teams with a combined four Big Ten wins. Not exactly impressive, especially in a down year across the Big Ten. Two of those wins came by just three points, too, including a win over Illinois, who went winless in Big Ten play.

Cowboys to watch: Mike Gundy christened Clint Chelf as his starting quarterback for the bowl game after a few strong performances in the final four games of the season. The junior finished third in the quarterback derby in the spring, but he's performed admirably after injuries to starter Wes Lunt and backup J.W. Walsh, who reemerged with a short-yardage formation in recent weeks. Josh Stewart is the team's leading receiver and an All-Big 12 caliber receiver who'll probably top 100 catches for the season in the bowl game, but the team's best overall player is running back Joseph Randle, the Big 12's leading rusher with 1,351 yards, more than 300 more than any other back in the Big 12. He averaged 5.26 yards a carry and scored 14 times. OSU's defense was disappointing in the secondary this year, but keep an eye on defensive tackle Calvin Barnett to be disruptive up front.

Boilermakers to watch: Quarterback Robert Marve, a Miami transfer, had a big finish to the season with seven touchdowns and just one interception during the three-game winning streak. That included a 348-yard day in the finale against Indiana. We'll see if he can keep it going. Receivers Antavian Edison and O.J. Ross both topped 50 receptions and Gary Bush added 41 more. Defensive lineman Kawann Short will be a handful for a good offensive line at OSU. He finished with 14.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.

Did you know? I joke about this bowl sometimes, but the former TicketCity Bowl has taken on a whole new sponsor and a truly admirable cause. Heart of Dallas is a non-profit organizaton and a first-time bowl sponsor who will help benefit charities that serve the homeless population in Dallas. If you can, get out and support the game. Another interesting note? The Big Ten is 0-2 all-time in this game.

Heart of Dallas Bowl

December, 2, 2012
Purdue Boilermakers (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-5)

Jan. 1, 12 p.m. ET, Dallas (ESPNU)

Purdue take from Big Ten blogger Brian Bennett: Purdue will be playing in its second straight postseason when it kicks off the Heart of Dallas Bowl, but that wasn't enough to save head coach Danny Hope's job. Hope was fired on Nov. 25 after a 6-6 season, and assistant Patrick Higgins will serve as interim coach for this game.

Hope was confident this would be his best team at Purdue, and the Boilers got off to a decent 3-1 start that included a close loss at Notre Dame. But with an excellent opportunity to make noise in a probation-ravaged Big Ten Leaders Division, the Boilermakers lost their first five conference games, including multi-touchdown defeats to Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Penn State.

The team did rally to win its final three games to salvage a bowl trip, sparked by Robert Marve returning as the starting quarterback. Fans had been calling for that move for weeks, and Marve delivered despite tearing his ACL in the second week of the season and eschewing surgery.

Hope did make some inroads in increasing the overall team speed, and the offense boasts some exciting playmakers like running backs Akeem Shavers and Akeem Hunt and receiver Antavian Edison. Defensive tackle Kawann Short is a potential first-round NFL pick, while Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson form one of the Big Ten's top cornerback tandems -- and they will be needed against Oklahoma State's high-powered passing game.

This team was talented enough to push Ohio State to the absolute brink in Columbus yet unfocused enough to fall behind 44-7 at Minnesota. How the Boilermakers respond and play against the Cowboys without their head coach is anyone's guess.

Oklahoma State take from SoonerNation's Brandon Chatmon: OSU coach Mike Gundy has done one of the best coaching jobs of his career as the Cowboys made Big 12 history with three different quarterbacks throwing for 1,000 yards or more. Wes Lunt, J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf each had their moments this season as the starting quarterback for the Pokes and each signal-caller led OSU to a double-digit win over a Big 12 opponent.

The constant in the Cowboys’ offensive attack is running back Joseph Randle, the Big 12’s leading rusher with 1,351 rushing yards. His toughness, versatility and playmaking set the tone for OSU’s offense. It could be the final game for the junior, who may elect to leave early for the NFL after three seasons as a key member of OSU’s offense.

OSU’s defense had an up-and-down season, holding four Big 12 opponents to 21 points or less before allowing more than 600 yards of total offense to Oklahoma and Baylor in its final two games. Defensive tackles Calvin Barnett and James Castleman have been the tone-setters for the Cowboys defense. When they play well, OSU’s defense is noticeably better.

Keep an eye on the Cowboys defense on third down. In the losses to OU and Baylor, the Cowboys allowed more than 50 percent of third downs to be converted.