STILLWATER, Okla. -- Hard to believe, considering Oklahoma State's football history, but the Cowboys are postseason veterans compared to their bowl opponent.
Oklahoma State (6-6) learned Sunday that it will face Indiana (7-5) of the Big Ten Conference in the Insight Bowl on Dec. 31 in Tempe, Ariz. (on NFL Network). While the Hoosiers will be making their first bowl appearance in 14 years, Oklahoma State will be playing in its fifth bowl game in six years.
"This is something that was one of our preseason goals," Oklahoma State senior linebacker Jeremy Nethon said. "We've had our ups and downs this season and we've stuck with each other."
Oklahoma State's current run of bowls began in 2002, when they beat Southern Mississippi 33-23 in the Houston Bowl. After the following season, they lost 31-28 to Mississippi in the Cotton Bowl. In 2004 - in their most recent game against a Big Ten foe - the Cowboys were drubbed 33-7 by Ohio State.
Last season, Oklahoma State finished 7-6 after a 34-31 win over Alabama in the Independence Bowl.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said he wondered, before the Cowboys practiced Sunday, just how enthused they would be about playing in another bowl game. A spirited workout ended those concerns, he said.
"I was a little concerned, as I always am, when you give them a week off," Gundy said. "It sounds funny, but we actually had some carryover from last year's bowl. They're very excited about being in a bowl. When you have a team that is as close as they are, they want to spend more time together. They don't want it to end."
Indiana and Oklahoma State have played just once, a 7-7 tie in Bloomington, Ind., on Oct. 11, 1930. The Cowboys are 0-2 in bowl games against Big Ten teams, having also lost to Purdue 33-20 in the 1997 Alamo Bowl.
Gundy and Oklahoma State players said they knew little about the Hoosiers, although they are aware of the team's emotional saga of the past year. Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner died in June from complications of a brain tumor, and the school promoted assistant Bill Lynch to take Hoeppner's place.
The Hoosiers' rallying cry this year was to "play 13," with a bowl game being their 13th game of the season.
"Coach Lynch and our players persevered through a season of unique challenges and, with strong support from our fans, achieved their goal to 'play 13.' As we strive for excellence in all things at IU, this achievement is a point of significant pride for us," Indiana University President Michael McRobbie said.
Indiana is 3-5 in eight previous bowl appearances. The Hoosiers have played in what is now known as the Insight Bowl once before, beating Baylor 24-0 in 1991 when the game was known as the Copper Bowl.
The Hoosiers' last postseason appearance was in the 1993 Independence Bowl.
Gundy said he will give the Cowboys time off for Christmas. Oklahoma State players will arrive in southern Arizona on Dec. 26.
Linebacker Patrick Lavine likely will resume practicing next week as he continues recovering from an ankle injury, while quarterback Zac Robinson, who suffered a bruised shoulder in the regular-season finale against Oklahoma, also should return next week.
Speaking of the Sooners, they'll be playing just down the road from Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2 in Glendale.
Senior defensive end Marque Fountain said being around southern Arizona for much of the run-up to the Fiesta Bowl - a Bowl Championship Series game - could provide motivation for younger Oklahoma State players.
It could show them "if you carry out all your goals throughout the season, you could be there ... and see how much better things can get," Fountain said.