DALLAS — They were playing games at Cotton Bowl Stadium for 65 years before Colton McKivitz was born, but don’t write him off as a disinterested millennial.
West Virginia’s sophomore right tackle appreciates the throwback venue that hosts the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
“It is going to be a cool experience, playing in a historic stadium like that,” McKivitz said.
The 92,000-seat stadium, which opened in 1930, most recently underwent a renovation in 2008, a year before the Cotton Bowl Classic left for the glitzy new digs in Arlington. But college football traditionalists recall this as the original, a site where:
— Ernie Davis led Syracuse to the 1960 national championship
— Alabama’s Tommy Lewis came off the sideline to tackle Rice’s Dickey Maegle on a breakaway.
— No. 1 Texas clinching the 1963 national title by defeating No. 2 Navy and Roger Staubach in a game played six weeks after JFK’s assassination.
— Joe Montana rallying Notre Dame from a 34-12 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Houston in 1979.
— Texas and Oklahoma still meet annually in one of the sport’s final neutral-site clashes.
“You always watch the Red River Rivalry and that is going to be kind of cool to play there,” McKivitz said.
The weather is expected to be cool Tuesday when West Virginia (7-5) faces Utah (6-6) for only the second time ever. Forecasts call for temperatures in the high-40s, as the Mountaineers seek to avoid closing 2017 on a three-game losing streak.
“I think it means a lot to our seniors,” coach Dana Holgorsen said. “It reminds me a little bit of two years ago, going to Phoenix and playing a Pac-12 school. Our seniors, it meant a lot to them to get a win, so we went and won. It helped our juniors propel into a season where we went and won 10 games.”
West Virginia is 2-3 in bowls under Holgorsen, quite a contrast to Kyle Whittingham’s 10-1 postseason record at Utah.
“Whatever they are doing during bowl games, I’m probably going to try to corner him and figure it out once this thing is over,” Holgorsen said.
No time at home
The Heart of Dallas Bowl preparation schedule forced a change from years past when Holgorsen allowed players to spend a few days at home before reconvening. This time players went through final exams and remained on campus for a string of practices before flying to Dallas on Thursday.
“I think that was better for some of the guys,” said linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton, suggesting his teammates needed to stay together “and be locked in” during the break.
“You have a lot more time on your hands and you see what kind of person you really are. You see what kind of guy you really are when you have those extra hours in a day. See what you are going to do. See how you are going to try to get better and things like that. I think a lot of guys needed these changes.”
“The bowl games are a lot of fun. We get to spend a whole week out wherever we’re playing, so it’s a lot of fun. We get a nice little break from football, so when it comes to the bowl week, we’re all fresh and happy to be able to play again. We aren’t exhausted from all the games during the season.” — senior receiver Ka’Raun White, who has a 1-1 record in bowls at WVU
“It’s just nice to travel. I’ve never been in Dallas, so it’s good to go there and see what they have in store. I’m just grateful to play another game in any bowl game.” — senior Spur safety Kyzir White