Valero Alamo Bowl Preview
Oklahoma State Cowboys vs Colorado Buffaloes
The Buffaloes and Cowboys are former Big 12 rivals, but due to divisions in the old 12-team format, these two programs have not played since 2009. The Valero Alamo Bowl (Enter Contest) landed an intriguing matchup with Colorado and Oklahoma State meeting in San Antonio. Both teams were on the doorstep of playing in a New Year’s Six bowl.
The Buffaloes are one of the best stories from the 2016 college football season. After winning just 10 games from 2013-15, coach Mike MacIntyre elevated Colorado to a 10-win season and a Pac-12 South title. The Buffaloes are led by a stingy defense, especially in the secondary with underrated cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has made plenty of headlines due to his hairstyle choices this year, but the former quarterback is on the verge of his third 10-win season over the last four years. The pass-catch combination of Mason Rudolph and receiver James Washington is a good test for Colorado’s secondary, while freshman Justice Hill and senior Chris Carson provide some punch on the ground. Expect a close (and entertaining game) in the Alamodome on December 29.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE (9-3)
This will be the Cowboys’ 11th straight bowl appearance under Gundy, the former Oklahoma State quarterback, and it is also the program’s fourth overall appearance in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The last one came in 2010 (a 36-10 victory over Arizona). In quarterback Mason Rudolph (3,777 yards, 25 touchdown passes), running back Justice Hill (187 carries, 1,042 yards, five TDs) and wide receiver James Washington (62 catches, 1,209 yards, nine TDs), the Cowboys are one of six FBS teams with a 3,500-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver, and are averaging 492.1 yards (17th nationally) and 38.7 points (19th) per game.
Free safety Jordan Sterns (team-most 96 total tackles) and defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (12 tackles for loss, six sacks) are the leaders for the Cowboys’ defense, which is surrendering 457.0 yards (108th FBS) and 28.1 points (tied for 65th) per contest but has forced 24 turnovers and ranks ninth nationally with a plus-10 turnover differential.
ABOUT COLORADO (10-3)
The Buffaloes are vying to become the fourth team in program history to win 11 games, and keeping record-setting senior quarterback Sefo Liufau (2,171 passing yards, 496 rushing, 18 total TDs) healthy will be a key as he was battling injuries and/or unable to finish each of the team’s three losses this season, including the Pac-12 title game. Running back Phillip Lindsay (230 carries, 1,189 yards, 16 TDs) and wide receiver Shay Fields (52 receptions, 845 yards, nine TDs) top the list of Liufau’s primary weapons with Colorado averaging 32.8 points (tied for 43rd FBS) and 446.3 yards (43rd) per outing.
Led by linebacker Kenneth Olugbode (105 total tackles), linebacker Jimmie Gilbert (10.5 sacks) and safety Tedric Thompson (seven interceptions), Colorado ranks in the top 20 nationally in total defense (328.3 yards allowed), scoring (20.5 points) and passing defense (182.5) while also recording 26 takeaways (tied for seventh nationally), but veteran defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt is getting a sizable raise to take the same position at Oregon and likely won’t coach in the bowl game.