Cowboys Get Alamo Bid

STILLWATER, Okla - In recent years Oklahoma State athletics has made Texas - and at times San Antonio - a home away from home. Now the Cowboys are going back again for the 2004 MasterCard Alamo Bowl. Oklahoma State was in the Alamo Bowl in 1997 and then last spring Eddie Sutton's basketball team finished its run through March Madness and the NCAA Tournament with a trip to the Final Four on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.

On both occasions Oklahoma State fans flooded the Alamo city with orange. Oklahoma State, which finished the regular season 7-4, was waiting patiently to see what would transpire. When Texas moved ahead of California in the BCS poll that made the decision easy for the Alamo Bowl in taking Oklahoma State.

It will be a special treat as the Cowboys will face the Ohio State Buckeyes in a battle of OSU's. For Oklahoma State head coach Les Miles it will be special in that as a Michigan player and assistant coach he battled against Ohio State teams in rivalry games throughout his time in Ann Arbor.

The game will be played Wednesday, Dec. 29, at 7 p.m.and televised nationally on ESPN. The invitation was officially extended over the phone shortly after the announcement on ESPN as Jack Rodgers, executive chairman of the Alamo Bowl, greeted Miles.

"I'm excited to death to be speaking with you and trust you were watching ESPN," said Rodgers. "I am officially inviting you to the Alamo Bowl. Do you accept?"

"I absolutely do," said Miles without hesitation. "It's a great honor for us and we will do our very best to represent the Big 12 and give our best effort for the Alamo Bowl and to provide Ohio State with a severe test and challenge."

It was quickly brought up by Rodgers that the rumor was out that Miles was a Michigan man and that might provide a little extra spark for the match up.

"Yes, I am, and grew up in Ohio, so I have great respect for the tradition of the Ohio State team and look forward to rekindling an old rivalry with Ohio State," said Miles. "I can remember being on the sidelines and standing with my father watching Ohio State take the field. I can remember meeting Woody Hayes (legendary Ohio State coach) who spoke at my high school banquet. It was great to be at a place that was part of such a great rivalry. It was always about respect with Ohio State. We held them in great esteem."

Miles had a chance during the Cowboys off weekend prior to the season-ending loss at Texas Tech to watch the game with Michigan and he said he took some notes.

"I saw them play against Michigan and certainly they look very capable both defensively and offensively," Miles said. "I followed them and I will certainly recognize their uniform."

Miles was asked about Buckeyes freshman defensive back and return specialist Ted Ginn, Jr., and he said he saw the return against Michigan.

"He is a very talented guy with great speed and we're going to have to contain him."

Miles isn't the only Cowboy with ties to Ohio. OUS's All-Big 12 offensive guard Sam Mayes came to OSU from Austintown, Ohio, and is very excited to meet up with the team he grew up with in his home state.

"I can't think of a better way to end my career," said Mayes. "It's the team I grew up watching and I remember being with my dad and meeting Orlando Pace (the former Ohio State All-American offensive tackle).

"Every kid follows Ohio State. I went to their camp and wanted to go there, but a different coach there at the time told me I was too big and too slow. I will definitely be motivated for this game. I will have my best game against Ohio State."

Another Cowboy that is excited about the game and staying in Texas for the Cowboys third bowl appearance in a row - only the second time that has happened in school history - is strong safety Vernon Grant. Three straight bowl games, three straight postseason trips to Texas for one of the many Texas natives on the team is a good thing.

"It's a good experience for me and allows my family to come along," said the Cowboys defensive leader. "My family will get to the game and have a chance to socialize. We are going down there to have fun but we also have some business to take care of."

Last season Grant promised to be the tour guide at the Cotton Bowl since his native Duncanville is right there by Dallas. He was asked if he knew where to go in San Antonio.

"I've heard the Riverwalk is a good place," said Grant to laughter at the news conference.

For Oklahoma State it is their 16th bowl appearance in school history, the Cowboys are 10-5 in their 15 previous bowl games. Oklahoma State and Ohio State have met just once previously when Ohio State beat then quarterback Mike Gundy and the Cowboys in the 1989 season opener 37-13 in Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

For this meeting, Les Miles says the Cowboys will be healthier and will also have a great following of fans.

"We anticipate returning to health some of our key people including Darrent Williams and Victor DeGrate," said Miles. "We look forward to putting a great team on the field.

"We look forward to San Antonio, the friends and family of the program will look at San Antonio as a great destination and feel we'll bring a large contingent to the game. The young men on the team from Texas, it makes it easier for their families to get to the game."

The Cowboys will finish up the semester with dead week and finals week and then it is estimated that they will travel to San Antonio on Dec. 22 to begin on-site preparation for the game.

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