"We're honored," said McCarney, who will lead the 7-6 Cyclones on the road to face the 11-1 Broncos. "A lot of people around the country, when they looked at our schedule, thought the Eddie Robinson Classic was going to be the only thing close to being a bowl game for Iowa State. Because of the perseverance, commitment and dedication of these players and coaches, we're going to one at the beginning and the end.
"It's sweet. You look at this schedule—eight teams in the top 25 and five of them in top 10—this is an amazing accomplishment for the teams that we played. There isn't anybody with their heads down, disappointed or shoulders shrugged, we're excited about this thing."
The sentiment earlier in the season by players and coaches alike was to go someplace warm in December. But losses in five of six games to close the regular season erased hopes of earning a bid to the Holiday, Alamo or Tangerine Bowls.
So it would be natural to feel some disappointment, right? Those around the program may be feeling some, but that wasn't the sentiment being shared by players and coaches Sunday.
"We were working possibilities the last couple of weeks," McCarney said. "In the end, that was the opportunity that we had. We're real excited about it. When you get the chance to go represent the conference, it's great. Texas A&M was bowl eligible this year and they're not going anywhere. And that wasn't because the change in coaches."
Added wide receiver Lane Danielsen, "We're happy to go to this bowl. We're proud to be going to a third straight bowl and go play Boise State."
After a Thanksgiving-week break ushered in by a 17-point home loss to Connecticut, the players have responded well to the start of bowl practices. Time away from football and the promise of another day has ISU excited for the impending matchup.
"I just wanted to be able to finish on a good note," said senior center Zach Butler, who is ready to erase the memories of losing his final game at Jack Trice Stadium. "I don't care where it is. I just want to get out, play again with my teammates and have one more shot at finishing this thing up with a victory."
But getting that finish Butler and the football program desires will be tough against a Bronco team playing on their home turf. Boise State won its final 10 games of the regular season to finish 11-1. Its lone defeat came on the road against SEC West champion Arkansas, 41-14, on Sept. 7.
Hospitality has been a positive during the past two bowl trips to Shreveport and Phoenix. McCarney said he is looking forward to his team being welcomed to Boise.
The team is set to leave shortly after Christmas, and will be welcomed with a Beef Bowl party in Boise on Dec. 27th. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. local time on Dec. 31st.
For information on a Humanitarian Bowl charter, check out this link: http://iowastate.theinsiders.com/2/79955.html