HOUSTON (AP) _ Oklahoma State coach Les Miles is ready to introduce Southern Mississippi to a sea of orange at the Houston Bowl.
``They're doing very well right now,'' Miles said Tuesday of the team that beat Oklahoma State 17-9 in its 2001 season opener and Miles' debut game as coach in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Miles said Oklahoma State is better now, with a marquee player in receiver Rashaun Woods and improved offense and defense, and is ready to get reacquainted with Southern Miss. Both teams are 7-5.
``We'd like to think we're playing our best football right now,'' Miles said.
Houston Bowl organizers selected Southern Miss last week and announced Sunday that Oklahoma State would be the opponent. Jerry Ippoliti, president and chief executive of the Houston Bowl, said the choice came down to Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, which was selected to face Clemson in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
Oklahoma State originally was thought to be headed to the Tangerine Bowl. Miles said Monday he had his eyes on Houston, where Oklahoma State has a healthy alumni and recruiting base, counting former NFL stars Thurman Thomas and Dexter Manley among players hailing from the area.
He also said he looked forward to the game in Reliant Stadium, the $449 million home of the NFL's Houston Texans.
``This is the exact place we wanted to be,'' he said. ``Our fans and people who support Oklahoma State can get in the car and in a day's drive be here and be able to share the bowl experience.''
Chuck Watson, chairman of Houston's Super Bowl 2004 Host Committee, former chief executive of Dynegy Inc. and a 1972 graduate of Oklahoma State, called the bowl ``a tremendous opportunity to showcase'' his alma mater.
The Houston Bowl is in its third year, although it has adopted a new name. The past two Decembers it has been known as the galleryfurniture.com Bowl, played at the aging Astrodome. Tech lost the inaugural game in 2000 to East Carolina 40-27.
Oklahoma State goes to its first bowl since 1997 and makes its first postseason trip to Houston since beating Baylor 24-14 in the 1983 Bluebonnet Bowl. Southern Miss will play its first Houston-based bowl.