Oklahoma State will face a familiar foe in the Cotton Bowl this week when it faces Missouri. The Missouri Tigers left the Big 12 and joined the SEC so the teams don't play in the regular season anymore, but they have played many times.
Here are some quotes from coach Mike Gundy at the press conference as the team got ready to leave Stillwater.
Head coach Mike Gundy
"The players were off yesterday, but we're back at it today and tomorrow. Then we'll take off a day, practice two days and be back together again after the holiday in Dallas. Everything is going really well, and the players are really excited about competing. It's a really busy time of year for us as coaches, but it's a great time for the players with school being out. They get the chance to focus on football and be around each other for an extra couple of weeks. We're looking forward to the next few days of preparation before we head to Dallas.
“Missouri's a great football team. With as many games as they've won and their current ranking, they're going to be talked about as a really good football team. They throw it around, they can run it and they've got tall receivers. Their schemes are really similar to what they've done in the past. Defensively, they've got two or three really good pass rushers, which is common with what they've always had in the past. They've always had guys up front that can cause issues for offenses. In the secondary, they're very similar to what we saw when they were in our league a few years ago. It should be a great game. I know that we're looking forward to it, and I'm sure Missouri feels the same way. The hospitality we've been receiving from the Cotton Bowl is tremendous, like always. Everybody's excited about getting to Dallas."
On if he thinks of Missouri as an SEC or a Big 12 team:
"I don't know if I'm into them being an SEC team yet or not. When people bring up (Texas) A&M and Missouri, and when I scan across their games on TV a few times a year, I still think to stop and watch them a little bit because we might still play them. It worked out that way this year with Missouri in the bowl game. With teams that had been in our conference for a long time, I still catch myself watching them, especially Colorado. Obviously, they're in the SEC now, but I don't really see that change being that different. It's only been two seasons [since they left].”
On how the Big 12 is perceived after Missouri and A&M's success in the SEC:
"I think the success they've had early in the SEC surprised most people across the country. The talk then was that Missouri and A&M were getting into a league that they weren't prepared for it in some people's opinion. We've always had a lot of respect for Missouri. A&M is in a geographical location that allows them to have really good football players. So you're playing against talented football teams either way. It's interesting that they made the change of going into the SEC and having tremendous success right away. It certainly makes us feel good about ourselves being in the Big 12.”
On what catches his attention in the Missouri defense:
"They have really good pass rushers. Like I mentioned earlier, they're really similar in their style of play to how they were in the past. They have 37 players from the state of Texas, and we have 77 players from the state of Texas. When I see players make plays, I start to look up where they're from, like I do with most teams in this league to get a feel of what's best for our recruiting. If you ask people across the country, I don't know that many of them could tell you that a team that's playing in the SEC would have 37 players from the state of Texas. They've done a really good job of recruiting and finding players that some might not think of as a five-star guy. They've have success within the program with developing and making plays, so that's where they're at on defense. They have players that show up and make a lot plays that end up getting selected in the second, third or fourth round of the draft. You start to look at where they come from, and they're coming from the same areas where we're recruiting. They're the same way on offense. They picked up their big name receiver, who I think was a five-star guy, but they also picked up some other players that are very similar to what they've used in the past. They do a good job of locating players that they can develop while other teams might think that they aren't ready to play at the same level."
On how he expects Missouri's recruiting in Texas to change after the move to the SEC:
"It's hard to speak for what their strategy is in recruiting. For us, we felt like the Big 12 would be an advantage because of the number of teams that are in the state of Texas, and we go to Texas a lot. Of course, we have two teams in Oklahoma, and then Kansas isn't too far off. For us, the team that's furthest away is Iowa State, and we don't really go that far north for recruiting in most cases. Like I said, it's hard to say what Missouri's plan is going to be going forward. Thirty-seven is their number right now so let's see what that number is four years from now. They may be going in a different direction toward the south or the east, but we see them in Texas all the time."
On how the 2008 win at Missouri changed the program:
"I think it was a big win for us. I think it was a seven o'clock game on national TV with a big audience, and they were really good. I remember going into that game, I don't think they had had a three-and-out all year. It was like the fifth or sixth game of the year, and they had the quarterback from down in Texas who made all the plays, Chase Daniel. On the first series, we had them at third-and-13 or third-and-15, and they converted. They threw the ball to that big tight end who ran a seven-cut, and I thought, 'Oh great.' I think we ended up stopping them on three or four three-and-outs that game, though, and that was the first time they had a three-and-out all year. It was a really big win for us on a really big stage that gave our players the evidence to think that we could do whatever was needed for people to believe in us. It was a big win for our university and our program."