Upcoming Match-ups

Alamo Bowl Preview: (13) Oklahoma State vs. (11) Colorado

Matt McEwan

by Matt McEwan in College Football

Dec 26, 2016 · 5:55 AM PST

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(Jump to the Miami Beach Bowl: Tulsa vs Central MichiganLas Vegas Bowl: San Diego State vs Houston; or Music City Bowl: Nebraska vs (21) Tennessee)

Today, we look at… 

The Bowl

The Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 29, 2016)

(13) Oklahoma State vs (11) Colorado (-3.5)

Do not be fooled, football fans! This Alamo Bowl should not be mistakenly related to the 1947 Alamo Bowl. Disregard the fact that their names may seem a little similar. The Alamo Bowl we currently enjoy began in 1993 and has tie-ins with the Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences. The game features the second-best the Pac-12 has to offer squaring off with the third-best from the Big 12.

Former Alamo Bowl MVPs include names like: Drew Brees, LaVar Arrington, Ted Ginn Jr., Colt McCoy, Marcus Mariota, and Eric Kendricks. Oh, right. The 2005 Alamo Bowl had an interesting ending…

The Teams

Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-3, 7-2 Big 12)

Even with two losses to their name, one coming in heartbreaking fashion, the Cowboys had a chance to win the Big 12 in the last week of the regular season against the Oklahoma Sooners. Unfortunately, the man who has carried them all year, quarterback Mason Rudolph, had his worst game of the season – 11/25 for just 186 yards – and the Cowboys lost 38-20 to their in-state rival.

As mentioned, Mike Gundy’s squad was dependent on the arm of Rudolph all season, and he largely delivered: OK State has the nation’s ninth-ranked pass attack (322.8 yards per game and Rudolph threw for the eighth-most yards in the country (3,777) while posting an impressive 25:4 TD:INT ratio. His favorite target, James Washington, finished with 1,209 receiving yards, ranking him 14th nationally. The two helped the team rank 17th in total offense (492 yards per game) and 19th in scoring (38.7 points per game).

All the points the Cowboys scored this season were a necessity. Oklahoma State finished 108th in total defense (457 yards per game) and 65th in scoring defense (28.1 points per game allowed), struggling equally against the pass (96th) and run (91st).

Colorado Buffaloes (10-3, 8-1 Pac-12)

The Buffaloes were downed by the Trojans in early October, but two previous USC losses allowed Colorado to maintain their spot atop the Pac-12 South. Colorado’s efforts were rewarded with a spot in the Pac-12 title game against the Washington Huskies. In spite of being responsible for Jake Browning having one of his worst outings of the season, Colorado still got pounded, 41-10.

Nonetheless, Colorado’s success earned head coach Mike MacIntyre AP Coach of the Year honors. His defense was the strength of the team, ranking 17th in total defense (328 yards per game) and 18th in scoring (20.5 points per game). Tedric Thompson finished third in the nation with seven interceptions and helped the Buffaloes rank 13th against the pass.

MacIntyre’s offense was a lot more mediocre. Quarterback Sefo Liufau only threw for 2,171 yards (73rd) in 11 games as the Buffs leaned heavily on their ground game. Liufau rushed for an extra 496 yards while playing the sidekick to Phillip Lindsay and his 1,189 rushing yards (30th). Despite the conservative approach, Colorado still managed to rank 43rd in both points scored (32.8 per game) and total yards (446).

The Play

Colorado (-3.5)

This is a strength on strength matchup, featuring one of the best passing offenses lining up against one of the best pass defenses. The difference here will be whether Oklahoma State can protect Mason Rudolph. The Cowboys have kept their signal-caller pretty clean this season, allowing 2.58 sacks per game. Colorado’s Jimmie Gilbert has recorded 10 sacks this season and they average 2.69 sacks per game (25th).

I expect to see Rudolph on his back a few times in this game, and the pressure he’ll face will cause some uncharacteristic turnovers. The Buffaloes have made a living capitalizing on opponents’ mistakes (seventh in the nation with 26 takeaways) and will continue to do so.

The Cowboys defense doesn’t inspire any confidence here and a healthy Liufau will be able to put up enough points to cover this spread. If you’re into trends, no Alamo Bowl in the last nine years has been decided by less than four points, and the Cowboys have lost two of their three appearances in this game. I’ll take the Buffs to back from their title game no-show.

(Photo Credit: Global Reactions (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/]).

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