Heart of Dallas Bowl Preview
Dec. 28, 2012
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 • Noon ET • Dallas, Texas • Cotton Bowl Stadium (92,158)
Purdue makes its second straight postseason appearance, and 17th overall, and will take on Oklahoma State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Jan. 1 at noon ET. The Boilermakers have been victorious in their last two bowl games, having won the 2007 Motor City and 2011 Little Caesars Pizza titles. They have reached a bowl game in 12 of the last 16 years and are 9-7 in their previous 16 bowl games. The Boilers now return to the state of Texas for postseason play for the first time since the 2004 Sun Bowl. Purdue has faced Oklahoma State once previously, a 33-20 Boilermaker victory in the 1997 Alamo Bowl.
The Boilermakers, who are 9-3 all-time against schools that currently call the Big 12 home, finished the regular season with three consecutive wins to become bowl eligible. At the conclusion of the 2012 campaign, Purdue opted for a change in leadership with Danny Hope being replaced by former Kent State head coach and Ohio State assistant Darrell Hazell. This past year at Kent State, Hazell led his program to an 11-2 record and advanced to a bowl game for the first time in 40 years. Hazell did not coach in that game, nor will be calling plays from the Purdue sideline in Dallas. Patrick Higgins will serve as the Boilermakers’ interim head coach in the postseason, having just completed his second season at Purdue as the wide receivers coach.
Oklahoma State is appearing in a school-record seventh straight bowl game, and has won at least seven games in a season for a school-record seven straight years. The Cowboys are 14-8 all-time in bowl games, which equates to a winning percentage that is tied for second best in the country among schools with at least 20 bowl appearances. Oklahoma State will enter the bowl game looking to snap a rare losing streak. OSU has lost consecutive games for the first time since 2009 when it dropped its regular-season finale and its bowl game. The Cowboys haven't dropped three in a row since 2005. OSU is playing a Big Ten bowl opponent for just the fourth time overall and for the first time since 2007. The Cowboys are 1-2 against the league in bowl games with losses to Purdue in the 1997 Alamo Bowl, Ohio State in the 2004 Alamo Bowl and a win over Indiana in the 2007 Insight Bowl. Overall, OSU is just 3-8-1 all-time against the "traditional" Big Ten, which does not include its long-standing history with former Big 12 (and now Big Ten member) Nebraska.
Purdue finished the regular season ranked third in the Big Ten in passing (240.7), fifth in total offense (405.7), sixth in rushing (165.0), and seventh in scoring (29.9). Sixth-year quarterback Robert Marve finally made it through a season after suffering three ACL injuries over his career. He currently ranks seventh in the conference with 169.1 passing yards per game, but certainly put together some pretty magical numbers in the final three games of the regular season. In starts at Iowa and Illinois and against Indiana, Marve completed 63 of 88 passing attempts (71.6 percent) for 792 yards and seven touchdowns. The effort helped him set a school record for completion percentage in a season, having finished the year at 66.2 (minimum 150 attempts). In the backfield, Akeem Shavers rushed for 788 yards and six touchdowns on 167 attempts, while fifth-year running back Ralph Bolden needs merely 53 rushing yards against Oklahoma State to become only the 12th player in Purdue history to rush for 2,000 career yards. Bolden, who missed six games this season, has rushed for 1,947 yards on 410 career carries. In the passing game, wideout Antavian Edison paced the Boilers in 2012 with 625 receiving yards and eight scores on 57 catches. His 4.8 receptions per game average rated fifth-best in the conference, while his 52.1 receiving yards each time out ranked ninth.
Oklahoma State’s defense finished the Big 12 campaign ranked third against the run (140.6), tied for fifth in points allowed (29.4), sixth in total yards given up (426.2), and seventh in defending the pass (285.7). Since 2009, the Cowboys have fielded a unit hungry for turnovers. OSU has recorded 125 takeaways, which is second only to Oregon’s 129 nationally over the last four years. This season, Oklahoma State has also been strong down the stretch, outscoring opponents 143-74 after halftime. Over the last seven games, OSU has allowed a total of 38 points in the fourth quarter and has outscored the opposition during that time, 72-35. Only 169 of Purdue’s 359 points this season have come in the second half. Senior linebacker Alex Elkins is the team’s top tackler, ranking 18th in the Big 12 with 6.6 stops per game. He has also contributed 2.0 sacks on the season and has helped the Cowboys obtain a national rank of 25th with 6.83 tackles for loss per game. Also playing key roles in the Cowboys’ defense is Daytawion Lowe and Shamiel Gary, who have 5.7 and 5.5 tackles per game, respectively. Senior Nigel Nicholas has a pair of forced fumbles on the season.
Oklahoma State owns the Big 12’s top scoring offense (44.7), second-best rushing attack (215.5) and total yards production (548.9), and fifth-rated passing offense (333.4). With a bowl game remaining, OSU's current offense could finish as the most productive in school history. The school record for total offense average was set last year with 545.8 yards per game. The Cowboys do a lot of offensive damage on the ground with junior Joseph Randle leading the way. He is the Big 12's leading rusher and No. 17 in the country, averaging 112.6 yards per game. He is averaging 5.3 yards per carry in 2012 and has reached the 100-yard rushing mark in eight of the season's 12 games – a figure that tops the Big 12 as well. His eight 100-yard rushing games lead the Big 12, while his 1,212 yards this season coupled with 1,668 yards last year make him only the sixth Cowboy to rush for 1,000 yards in more than one season. It’s a different story under center, however, as OSU has been nagged by injuries at quarterback. In fact, the Cowboys have had three different starters this season, yet all have eclipsed 1,000 yards passing – a first in Big 12 history and a first in the NCAA since 1996. Clint Chelf (1,391 yds, 12 TD, 6 INT) is expected to get the start in the bowl game, but expect to see J.W. Walsh (1,478 yds, 11 TD, 3 INT) and/or Wes Lunt (1,096 yds, 7 TD, 6 INT). Remarkably, the trio has combined to complete 62.3 percent of the Cowboys’ passing attempts this year. Oklahoma State has had a 100-yard receiver in seven straight games, and for the first time in school history, five different players post 100-yard receiving games in the same season with Charlie Moore, Josh Stewart, Blake Jackson, Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson all accomplishing the feat. Stweart leads OSU in catches (96), receiving yards (1,154) and touchdown catches (7), and has also notched five 100-yard receiving games this season, including four in his last six games.
On defense, Purdue ranked ninth in the Big Ten in defending the pass (227.5) and rush (179.3), 10th in scoring (29.0), and 11th in total yards allowed (406.8). The Boilermakers were second in the conference with 14 interceptions on the season, thanks in large part to Landon Feichter’s four picks, which tied for the Big Ten lead. His total is also the most by an individual at Purdue since Terrell Vinson picked off five passes in 2007. The safety was an honorable mention All-Conference selection by the media, while his defensive counterparts, cornerbacks Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson, were second-team honorees. Johnson’s team-high 16 PBUs this season bumped his career total to 31, which is good enough for sole possession of fifth all-time at Purdue. While the Purdue secondary will be tested with OSU’s trio of quarterbacks, fifth-year defensive tackle Kawann Short will represent the Boilermakers’ first line of defense. The second-team AP All-American wrapped up his final regular season at Purdue with 42 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, four PBUs, four blocked kicks, two fumbles recovered and one forced. He finished the 2012 regular season tied for fourth in the Big Ten in tackles for loss per game and tied for fifth in sacks. Short is eighth all-time at Purdue in both career tackles for loss (48.0) and sacks (18.5) and has blocked more career field goals (six) than any other player in school history.
Among the special teams notables, Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp is the school’s first-ever three-time All-American and the two-time reigning Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year. The punter/kicker/kickoff specialist joins a long list of Cowboys who have excelled in special teams, including 2008 Ray Guy Award winner Matt Fodge and 2010 Lou Groza Award winner Dan Bailey. Purdue ranks second in the Big Ten with a 22.9-yard kickoff return average. Raheem Mostert deserves most of the credit for that average as he is second among FBS players in kickoff return average at 31.4 yards per attempt.