Taking a look at the Cowboys' opponent in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, the Purdue Boilermakers.
1. The Boilermakers finished the regular season with three consecutive victories, which is an impressive feat in any of the major conferences in college football. That said, Purdue's three victims – Iowa, Illinois and Indiana – really put the "I" in ineptitude, going a combined 4-20 in Big Ten play. Three wins in a row is a positive sign but the quality of the three doesn't do much to offset Purdue's 0-5 start in conference play.
2. Oklahoma State may be undergoing a change at offensive coordinator but Purdue enters the bowl game with a change at the top of the pecking order. Purdue named former Kent State coach Darrell Hazell as its new head coach on Dec. 4. Hazell, who led Kent State to an 11-2 record in 2012, replaces Danny Hope, who was fired after going 22-27 in four seasons at Purdue. In an interesting move, Hazell will coach Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl and join the Boilermakers full time in the offseason. In the meantime, interim offensive coordinator Patrick Higgins will take the reins, adopting the seldom-seen double-interim title as interim head coach, as well.
3. Senior quarterback Robert Marve is a fan-favorite in West Lafayette and has been playing college football since the Bush administration. Marve is in his sixth year of eligibility and transferred to Purdue from Miami after the 2008 season. Marve has endured an injury-plagued career but is nearing legend status with Boilermaker fans because of his toughness, work ethic and never-say-die attitude on the field. Marve has been the starter during Purdue's winning streak, including an impressive 20-for-29, 348-yard and four-touchdown performance against Indiana in the team's regular-season finale. This season has easily been Marve's best with 1,522 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions in shared duty at the position with Caleb TerBush.
4. Purdue has a pretty average defense, ranking 70th nationally in yards allowed at 407 yards per game. The Boilermakers aren't particularly weak in any area but did rank 79th in run defense (179.5 ypg), which could indicate a big work load is on deck for Joseph Randle. Purdue is solid on the d-line and improved defensively late in the season but it will be interesting to see how it handles a rushing attack based out of an air-raid offense like OSU's. It's a much different look than the Boilermakers are used to seeing in the smash-mouth, three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust Big Ten.
5. On paper OSU stacks up rather favorably in this matchup but the Cowboys need to be careful in one area in particular: pass coverage. This has been a sore spot for the Pokes all season and OSU's secondary weaknesses were put on full display in back-to-back losses against Oklahoma and Baylor to end the regular season. Where OSU struggled the most was in defending short routes and screens because of the massive cushion the Cowboy corners afforded opposing receivers, allowing the Sooners and Bears to methodically dink-and-dunk their way down the field. Unfortunately, this is what Purdue does best. The Boilermakers make their offense go by utilizing these short routes to feature their speed. A month to prepare should serve the Cowboys well but it is still a potential red flag.