Brace yourself. Purdue just might have an offensive shootout to deal with against Oklahoma State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
The good news -- the combination of quarterback Robert Marve and receivers coach-turned-play-caller-turned interim head coach Patrick Higgins seem more than ready for it.
The Boilers (6-6) got Oklahoma State (7-5) of the Big 12 Conference for the Jan. 1 bowl. The game is set for the renovated Cotton Bowl, one of college football's most historic facilities. It will have a noon start and be televised on ESPNU.
Oklahoma State has one of the nation's most potent attacks, and the will to utilize it. The Cowboys averaged 44.7 points, including an 84-0 wipe out of Savannah State in the season opener.
Purdue, meanwhile, averaged 34.3 points in its last three games, all victories, with Higgins handling the play calling for injured offensive coordinator Gary Nord. Marve, who missed two games with a torn ACL, has started in all three of those wins.
Marve completed 72 percent of his passes down the stretch for 787 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception. He set the Purdue single-season record for completion percentage (.662).
Even before knowing Oklahoma State would be the opponent, the Boilers were braced for an explosive attack given the Big 12 is known for its high-powered offenses.
“We've faced a lot of adversity,” defensive tackle Kawann Short said. “It will be a challenge. It's up to the defense to try to hold these guys down. Keep giving the offense the ball. Giving them momentum so they can drive down the field. As a defense feel we can match up with anybody on any given day.”
On Jan. 1 those anybodies include quarterback Clint Chelf, who has started the last five games in place of injured J.W. Walsh. Wes Lunt also has started and completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,096 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Chelf is 2-3 in his starts. He's completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 1,391 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Walsh, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Iowa State, had completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 1,478 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.
The top receiver is Josh Steward, who has 96 catches for 1,154 yards and seven touchdowns. Charlie Moore has 31 catches for 500 yards and five TDs. Blake Jackson has 28 catches for 565 yards. That's a team-leading 20.2 yards a catch.
In all, nine players have at least 12 catches for at least 166 yards.
The running game is led by Joseph Randle, who's rushed for Big 12-leading 1,351 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Cowboys rank seventh nationally in passing (333.4 yards) and 22nd nationally in rushing (215.0)
They have one of the nation's worst pass defenses. They give up 285.7 passing yards, which ranks 111th overall. They allow 29.4 points.
Oklahoma State is playing in its seventh straight bowl game. Coach Mike Gundy has a 4-2 bowl record, including a 2007 Insight Bowl win over Indiana.
Purdue is playing in consecutive bowls for the first time since 2006-07. Last year it beat Western Michigan 37-32 in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit. It will begin bowl practice on Tuesday under Higgins, who replaced the fired Danny Hope the day after the Nov. 24 Oaken Bucket victory that secured bowl eligibility.
“I am happy for and proud of the 20 seniors on our team,” Purdue athletics director Morgan Burke said. “When we were sitting 3-6, having lost five straight games, many people gave up on this group. But those seniors -- and other leaders in the locker room -- didn't quit and didn't let their teammates quit. Their backs were against the wall, and they worked extremely hard to win three straight games and earn the reward of postseason play.
“We are thrilled to be heading to Texas, where we have been multiple times for bowl games. Purdue has a lot of alums in the Lone Star State, including more than 13,000 within 250 miles of the Metroplex, so my hunch is there will be a lot of gold and black at the Cotton Bowl. Our goal is for the players and coaches to have a great trip and, obviously, to win the game.”
Purdue is one of seven Big Ten teams to earn a bowl bid. The others were Wisconsin in the Rose bowl, Nebraska in the Capital one Bowl, Michigan in the Outback Bowl, Northwestern in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Michigan State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Burke spent Sunday afternoon interviewing Cincinnati coach Butch Jones as a possible replacement for Hope. Jones is reportedly set to interview with Colorado today. Cincinnati officials also are reportedly reworking Jones' contract in an effort to keep him.