Purdue-Oklahoma St. Preview

Mike Gundy has had plenty of success in his eight years at

Oklahoma State, and it seemed inevitable his name would pop up for

a high-profile job despite a disappointing regular season by his

standards.

While Gundy ultimately decided to remain at his alma mater,

Purdue’s failure to meet expectations resulted in a coaching

change.

Before the Darrell Hazell era begins, the Boilermakers will take

on Gundy’s Cowboys in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Tuesday.

Oklahoma State had won at least nine games in each of the

previous four campaigns, finishing 11-2 in 2010 and 12-1 with a

Fiesta Bowl victory last season.

The Cowboys, though, dropped their last two games of 2012 and

stumbled to a 7-5 record – Gundy’s worst since the last of

back-to-back 7-6 seasons in 2007.

Gundy had high expectations for this season’s squad, which was

ranked 19th in the AP preseason poll, and figured it would be

playing in a postseason game of more prestige.

“Wherever the conference sends us is where we go,” Gundy said.

“I can only say I’m surprised we’re in this game.”

Despite the disappointing record, Gundy reportedly was sought by

Tennessee to help rebuild its program, though discussions didn’t

amount to much before he proclaimed his commitment to the

Cowboys.

“The only thing I’m going to say is (the talks) haven’t gone as

deep as what people say,” Gundy said.

“In our profession, if you do good, people are going to contact

you. If you don’t, you’re going to get fired.”

That’s precisely what happened to former Purdue coach Danny

Hope, who went 22-27 in four seasons and was let go after this

year’s 6-6 record. The Boilermakers won their final three games to

qualify for their second straight bowl, but it wasn’t enough to

save Hope’s job.

Enter Hazell, who impressed athletic director Morgan Burke by

turning a once-dismal Kent State program into a contender for a BCS

bowl bid in just two seasons.

Hazell, a former wide receivers coach for seven seasons under

Jim Tressel at Ohio State, went 5-7 in 2011 before coming up a MAC

title game victory shy of guiding the Golden Flashes to an

improbable BCS bowl berth.

The Golden Flashes fell 44-37 in overtime to Northern Illinois

on Nov. 30, but they’ll appear in their first postseason game since

1972 when they face Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on Jan.

6.

Hazell will coach Kent State in that contest before beginning

his tenure at Purdue.

“I’m extremely excited to work with the players at Purdue, and I

look forward to experiencing a lot of success in the future,”

Hazell said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity. Purdue University has a

great football tradition, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Receivers coach Patrick Higgins, who called plays for the final

three weeks after offensive coordinator Gary Nord hurt his back,

was named interim coach for Purdue’s bowl game.

“This is a team that a lot of people gave up on,” Higgins said,

“but they came together collectively to win their final three games

and earn this trip to Dallas. We’re going to have a lot of

fun.”

A major focus in preparation for this game must be on defense,

as the Boilermakers allowed 406.8 yards per game to finish 11th in

the Big Ten despite having second-team All-American Kawann Short.

The senior defensive tackle has 14 1/2 tackles for loss to go along

with six sacks.

Short leads a Purdue defense which will face a big challenge

from an Oklahoma State team that ranked fifth in the FBS in total

offense at 548.9 yards per game. Junior Joseph Randle was named

first-team All-Big 12 after leading the conference with 1,351

rushing yards while posting eight 100-yard performances.

The Cowboys passing offense ranked seventh nationally (333.4

ypg) despite starting three different quarterbacks in junior Clint

Chelf, true freshman Wes Lunt and redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh.

Chelf started the final four games after Lunt suffered a concussion

in a loss to Kansas State on Nov. 3.

Gundy has announced Chelf will start against Purdue, saying he’s

“earned the right to start the bowl game.”

While Oklahoma State scored fewer than 30 points only once, it

allowed more than 40 five times. The Cowboys defense surrendered

more than 600 yards in each of the final two games to finish sixth

among the 10 Big 12 teams in total defense (426.3 ypg).

The only time Purdue scored more than 28 points in Big Ten play

came in a 56-35 home victory over lowly Indiana in the

regular-season finale Nov. 24.

Sixth-year senior Robert Marve went 20 for 29 with career highs

of 348 yards and four touchdowns in that game as he continues to

play through a torn ACL suffered earlier this season.

Akeem Shavers totaled three touchdowns against the Hoosiers,

recording season highs of 126 rushing yards and 99 receiving.

Purdue went 6-0 this year when Shavers runs for a TD, compared to

0-6 when he didn’t. The senior was the team’s top rusher with 778

yards.

This will mark the second meeting between the schools, with the

Boilermakers beating the Cowboys 33-20 in the 1997 Alamo Bowl.