There is no secret that one of the major reasons that teams have success in bowl games is that they prepare and go to the site to play in the game highly motivated to get the job done. Often teams you have to worry about as far as motivation in bowl season are ones that lose a championship game to end the season and suffer a hangover effect.
Oklahoma State would be a prime candidate for that except for one major reason. To be fair, this Oklahoma State team has been resilient all season long after disappointments, but going into the Alamo Bowl the Cowboys have no fewer than four starters on the team, influential players that are from San Antonio.
That list also includes a backup senior receiver that also has a strong voice and is popular on the team and one of the best punters in the nation in Zach Sinor. That list of players includes senior free safety Jordan Sterns, who had 19 tackles in the Bedlam loss to Oklahoma, and Ramon Richards, who has a season-tying lead of three interceptions.
While we were talking to Sterns, his cell phone kept making noise and we kidded that it was probably more friends or family requesting tickets to see their guy play his final college game against Colorado.
"I get to go back home, so, personally, I'm loving it," Sterns said, while lamenting not beating OU to win the Big 12 and going to the Sugar Bowl. "I get to see some friends and family that haven't had a chance to come up here to see me so it's definitely fun. I'm looking forward to getting to play my last game back home."
Richards is not only one of the most dynamic players on the Oklahoma State defense with his picks but he is also one of the most personable on the team and has not become known for his "Talkin' with Ramon" segments on the internet. The very intelligent junior can converse on about any topic. A favorite is his hometown of San Antonio.
"It's crazy," Richards said with his usual enthusiasm. "We've been talking about this since I got here to Oklahoma State. We always want to play in the championships and get the big rings, but I've always wanted to go back home and play in San Antonio. Obviously we wanted to win against OU. Congratulations to them. But at the end of the day I get to go back home and perform in front of my family."
Richards seemingly has a really good read on his teammates and he senses no problem being fired up and ready to go against Colorado on Dec. 29.
"I feel like we want to be there. Like I said, obviously we would have liked to have won the last game," Richards added, "but we don't have any problem going down to San Antonio and playing in the Alamo Bowl. The team loves playing football. Whether it's the Cactus Bowl a couple years ago or the Sugar Bowl last year. Wherever we're going, we're going to enjoy it and be excited."
Head coach Mike Gundy agrees with his San Antonio battalion and feels this team is very mature and dedicated in preparation and in motivation.
"It's interesting," Gundy started. "You have guys that have had huge impacts. You talk about Tre Flowers, Vincent Taylor, Jordan Sterns, Zach Sinor, Austin Hays. In the end, we have a responsibility to be prepared any time we have a game. That hasn't ever been an issue, and everybody knows how that works here. I think they'll have enough motivation. They're playing the 10th -ranked team in the country, and that team lost to two really good teams."
The first practice is 6 p.m. Saturday inside Boone Pickens Stadium and Gundy said the team will go with a two days on and one day off calendar until letting the team go for several days for the holiday. Then the team will gather in San Antonio on Dec. 23 to begin on site preparation for the Alamo Bowl.