Well ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. That’s right. It’s bowl season! As you all already know, your Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-3, 7-2 Big 12) are taking on former Big 8 rival, the Colorado Buffaloes (10-3, 8-1 PAC-12), in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
The Buffaloes come into the match-up ranked tenth in the CFP Poll, and 11th in both the AP and Coaches’ Polls. They come into San Antonio with a 10-3 record after a loss to Playoff participant Washington.
The Cowboys are ranked 12th by the Playoff Committee, and 13th by both the AP and Coaches’ Polls. The Cowboys are coming off a Bedlam beatdown, which they were once again on the wrong side of. Both teams are looking to right the ship and finish the season strong with a win.
When: Thursday, December 29th, 8:00 p.m. CST.
Where: Alamodome (San Antonio, Texas)
Stream: WatchESPN (requires provider login)
Spread: CU: -3, Over/Under: 63
What to Watch For:
Which Mason Rudolph is going to show up?
We all know how good Mason Rudolph has been this season, especially inside the confines of Boone Pickens Stadium. We also know how bad he can be when he travels into enemy territory. So, which Rudolph will show up in San Antonio later today? All the offense of a team runs through the quarterback, and if the QB isn’t having a good day, chances are the team isn’t having a good day either. We need elite Rudolph to show up, or a blowout like last year’s Sugar Bowl looms in the not-so-distant background.
Who can win the turnover battle?
Colorado has a great defense. They are tied for 13th best in the nation with 26 takeaways this year. In comparison, OSU has 24, good for 24th in the nation this year. Mike Gundy has the advantage though in the turnover battle. His team has only committed 14 total turnovers, for a +10 margin, while Colorado has 19, for a +7 margin. The Cowboys need to take care of the ball like they have for most of the year (6 total in first four games), while forcing turnovers like they have done all year so well. CU’s strength is in their secondary, so if Road Rudolph shows up, their secondary may have a field day (provided Gundy even wants to throw it deep).
Oklahoma State will win if....
They can be patient and surgical.
Colorado is the 17th best defense in the nation. They only give up 4.69 yards per play. Gundy and Co. need to be patient with the defense. This isn’t the Big 12. Colorado will play defense. It sucks to watch as a fan, but short passes and short runs down the field will eventually end up in the end zone for in field goal range. Just ask Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. Prescott has dinked and dunked his team to a 13-2 record and the #1 seed in the NFC this season. It’s very boring football to watch, but eventually Colorado will be forced to start creeping up to try and cut off the short passes, and that’s when it’s James Washington time. They can’t force it though.
They win the turnover battle.
I know, I know. It seems like someone (usually me) preaches on this every week. But it is that important. If you can stop even two of your opponent’s drives with a turnover, you can take away a maximum of 16 points from your opponent. It looks to me like points will be at a premium this game, and the less opportunities Colorado has to put points on the board will be better in the end for the Fighting Mullets.
Colorado will win if...
They come out hot.
It seems that if an opponent is able to come out and get quick points and get rolling early, the Cowboys get down on themselves, and struggle to get back into the game. If Colorado comes out and gets a quick seven points, then force the Cowboys into a quick offensive series that ends in a punt, it could be another long night for players, coaches, and fans alike. Add that mental block to a top 20 defense in the country, and a hot Colorado start could kill the Cowboys’ dreams before the first quarter is halfway done.
- Mason Rudolph - 3777 yards, 63.0% completion, 25 TDs, 4 INTs, 157.2 passer rating, 314.75 ypg
- Justice Hill - 1042 yards, 5.6 ypc, 5 TDs, 86.8 ypg
- Chris Carson - 498 yards, 7.0 ypc, 8 TDs, 62.3 ypg
- James Washington - 1209 yards, 19.5 ypc, 9 TDs, 100.8 ypg
- Jalen Mccleskey - 762 yards, 11.0 ypc, 7 TDs, 47.7 ypg
- Sefo Liufau (QB) - 2171 yards, 62.8% completion, 11 TDs, 6 INTs, 134.0 passer rating
- Phillip Lindsay (RB) - 1189 yards, 5.2 ypc, 16 TDs, 91.5 ypg
- Shay Fields (WR) - 845 yards, 16.3 ypc, 9 TDs, 65.0 ypg
- Devin Ross (WR) - 765 yards, 11.6 ypc, 5 TDs, 58.8 ypg
Man, this is a hard one. I thought this was going to be a lopsided OSU victory, until I started doing some research. I can’t believe I’m about to do this, but I’ll say Colorado wins in a close one 35-31. I just don’t think Gundy is going to be patient and surgical, and they will turn the ball over and get down on themselves.
The Alamo Bowl is widely considered to be one of the “must-watch” bowl games of this year’s postseason. We will see tonight if that is true or not.