Can Cowboys Repeat Holiday Bowl History?

STILLWATER – Zac Robinson and Perrish Cox were surprised Wednesday when they learned of Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy's last trip to the Holiday Bowl. The 41-year-old Gundy was a junior quarterback who completed 20 of 24 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns – and also caught a 17-yard pass from Barry Sanders – in OSU's 62-14 victory over Wyoming in the 1988 Holiday Bowl in San Diego.

But Robinson, a fourth-year junior, an Cox, a third-year junior, are just two of the current Oklahoma State players who were born when Gundy teamed with Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders and All-American wide receiver Hart Lee Dykes to lead the Cowboys to the victory over Wyoming, and the last 10-win football season in school history.

"He was 20 of 24? That's pretty good," said Robinson, who was 2 years old in 1988. "I knew they went out there and beat up on somebody pretty good, but 20 of 24 is a pretty solid performance."

Robinson, a former wide receiver in high school, also was surprised to learn that Gundy caught a 17-yard pass from Sanders to set up one of OSU's eight touchdowns.

"We need to tell him to put in something for me - a throwback or something," said Robinson, who had 39 catches for 850 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior at Chatfield High School in Littleton, Colo.

The win over the Wyoming Cowboys in the 1988 Holiday Bowl allowed Oklahoma State to finish the season with 10-2 record – which ironically was just the fourth time a Cowboy football team won 10 games in one season. It has not been done since 1988.

Oklahoma State, 9-3, will get a chance to reach the 10-win plateau for the first time in 20 years when they meet Oregon, also 9-3, in the 2008 Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

"It's really neat to get back out there," Gundy said. "We're really looking forward to it. Our team is really excited about it. I don't think there's a better bowl to have a bowl than San Diego. It's a beautiful place. Our players are really looking forward to getting out there.

"We've had a chance to watch some tape of Oregon now, and they're a quality opponent. Oregon is a team that doesn't get enough credit for what they've accomplished the last 10 to 15 years," Gundy continued. "They're running up some big numbers on offense right now, and defensively they've got some guys on the perimeter who match up pretty well against us. So, it should be a really good game. I think the teams are somewhat evenly matched."

Gundy, Robinson and Cox all said that getting the 10th win is important – not only to become the fourth team in school history but also to give the Cowboys momentum entering the 2009 season when they return 14 of 22 starters (and 19 of 22 players on the offense's two-deep and 15 of 22 on the defense's two-deep).

"I think it's huge," said Robinson. "We've definitely seen the past couple of years the momentum we carry into the offseason and offseason workouts. A lot of times winter conditioning is when players don't want to be there and it's hard to get going when you're out here running in 10 degree weather, so it's a lot of motivation to come off a win. We definitely know it's big to get a win and carry that momentum (into next season).

Cox said, "This game is really the start of next year. It's important because that's how we start off the next year and coming off a win is big time for us. We're 9-3 now but 10-3 is definitely better and it helps motivate you through the spring."

Gundy added, "I think the win against Alabama and the win against Indiana carried over into the offseason with the players. Early in the season, before we started, there were a lot of comments about our defense. I said that they played very well in that bowl game (against Indiana) and it kind of helped them in the offseason and in spring ball, with the addition of the junior college players that we brought in in January."

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