The Holiday Bowl got what it wanted Saturday afternoon: Oklahoma State and its record-setting tailback, Barry Sanders.
Sanders rushed for 293 yards in a 49-28 victory over Iowa State, then had enough energy left to join Coach Pat Jones in officially accepting the expected bid to play Western Athletic Conference champion Wyoming Dec. 30 in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
“We are just going to go out and win the game,” Sanders said. “The records don’t matter. I have a good friend, Dabbie Dawson, who plays for Wyoming, and I’m looking forward to playing against him.”
It’s doubtful Wyoming, which won its second consecutive conference title this year and finished its regular season late Saturday at Hawaii, is looking forward to trying to stop Sanders.
Saturday, Sanders raised his NCAA season touchdown record to 35, set a national record for all-purpose yardage and moved to within 47 yards of breaking the NCAA 1-season rushing record by Marcus Allen. Sanders can break the record when Oklahoma State plays Texas Tech in Tokyo Dec. 4.
For the season, the Heisman Trophy contender has run for 2,296 yards and compiled 2,897 yards rushing, returning kicks and catching passes. That breaks the national all-purpose record of 2,633 set by Temple’s Paul Palmer.
“There’s the possibility that the winner (of the Holiday Bowl) should come out in the top 10,” Jones said. “So there’s quite a bit at stake.
“I hope the people of San Diego will get to see the next Heisman Trophy winner in Sanders. He’s had one of the greatest years in sports yet.”
Oklahoma State (8-2) is the second Big Eight team to appear in the Holiday Bowl. Missouri played in the 1983 game and was beaten by Brigham Young, 21-17. Oklahoma State last appeared in San Diego in 1982, losing to San Diego State, 35-6, in the final game of the regular season.