SAN ANTONIO - Bowl week is finally here for Oklahoma State.
After a few weeks of anticipation, the Cowboys have set up shop in the Alamo City for its showdown against Arizona in the Alamo Bowl on Wednesday. After a highly-successful - and highly-unexpected - season that saw OSU pick up 10 wins in the regular season for the first time ever and grab a third of the Big 12 South championship, the Pokes have a shot to cap the year with an 11th victory and a bowl title.
OSU arrived last Thursday, having practiced that afternoon, Christmas Eve and this afternoon, taking Christmas day off. When a team goes bowling, there is a chance that the coaches and players will spend the holiest and highest-priority of holidays on the road. But head coach Mike Gundy says that's exactly what a team wants.
"In college football you want to be away on Christmas," Gundy said. "Some of the games have moved so far back that you're not. But we are excited to be here, we have had a chance to spend time with our family and we have our families here."
Gundy added that festivities were set up for the team on both Christmas Eve and Christmas so they could celebrate the yuletide in a proper manner.
But when you think about it, this isn't much of a road trip for many Cowboys. With so many Texans on the roster, going to San Antonio isn't a big haul.
"There are a number of guys who are within a four-hour drive from here, so their family and friend swill be able to come watch them play," Gundy said. "San Antonio is a really neat place and it is a great chance for not only our players, but our fans to spend some time in this part of the country."
"I think everybody, speaking for the entire team, is pretty excited about this week," Brandon Weeden said. "We hear a lot of good things about the Alamo Bowl and it's going to be a fun weekend. I think everyone's going to enjoy it."
The team has an enjoyable evening planned, as they will attend a Spurs-Washington Wizards game. Players took in the aquatic sights at SeaWorld on Christmas Eve and will take part in the Rudy's BBQ Pep Rally on the Riverwalk Monday night.
There is also a mall immediately next to the team hotel, which will likely be a popular hangout for players when they have free time - or at least a hot spot for their significant others.
"My wife's in town, so she's probably going to want to spend some time at the mall," Weeden said. "But who knows, I'm just going to enjoy - we've got a few days to prepare before the game."
While the mall option provides all sorts of opportunities for post-Christmas self-gifting, the bowl itself has a nice package of goodies for players on both sides. According to SportsBusinessJournal.com, each team will receive an XBox 360 complete with Kinect setup, a $20 gift card to GameStop, Kicker 541 headphones, an iPod Shuffle, a Fossil watch, a Schutt mini-helmet and a team panoramic photo. Not a bad slate of goodies, huh?
"The hospitality has been amazing," Andrew McGee said. "We walked in the door, there's people everywhere greeting us. It's just a good feeling to know that we're welcome and they want us here. That's the best feeling in the world. We're excited - it's going to be a great week."