The No. 10 Colorado Buffaloes are set to do battle against the No. 12 Oklahoma State Cowboys on Thursday, December 29th in the 2016 Valero Alamo Bowl. Kickoff inside the Alamodome in San Antonio is set for 9:00 EST Thursday night with ESPN providing the television coverage.
Colorado (10-3) had one of the best turnaround seasons in the country. Picked to finish last by most media outlets in the Pac-12 South, the Buffaloes managed to win the division and make the conference title game. They would lose 10-41 to Washington after injuries and turnovers did them in.
Oklahoma State (9-3) went into the final week of the season with a chance to win the Big 12. But the Cowboys lost to their arch rivals in the Oklahoma Sooners 20-38 on the road as 12-point underdogs. They had to settle for second place in the conference with that defeat.
According to the latest college bowl odds, I find Colorado as a 3-point favorite over Oklahoma State with a total set of 62.5 points. Check out my bowl predictions to get my picks on every bowl game this postseason.
Certainly both teams are coming off deflating losses with conference championships at stake. So you have to try and figure out which team will be more motivated to be playing in this ‘lesser’ bowl game. And I think it’s pretty clear to see that Colorado will be the more motivated team.
The Buffaloes will be going to their first bowl game since 2007. It’s been nearly a decade since their last bowl game, so they will be excited to be here either way. In fact, if you would have given them a No. 10 ranking and 10 wins coming into the season, they would have taken it. So I don’t think they are disappointed at all that they’re not going to the Rose Bowl, which is where they would have been if they beat Washington.
Conversely, Oklahoma State is used to going to bowl games. It will be thoroughly disappointed that it fell just short of winning the Big 12 with a loss to Oklahoma in the season finale. The Cowboys would much rather be playing in the Sugar Bowl like Oklahoma is. They will be less motivated than Colorado as a result.
And just strictly from a matchup standpoint, I like Colorado as well. They have the better defense and it’s not really even close. The buffaloes only allow 20.5 points, 327 yards per game and 4.7 yards per play this season. The Cowboys give up 28.1 points, 457 yards per game and 6.0 yards per play on the year.
Oklahoma State relies heavily on its passing attack, which averages 322 yards per game. Well, Colorado has one of the best pass defenses in the country. The Buffaloes only allow 47.9% completions, 181 passing yards per game and 5.4 yards per attempt to opposing quarterbacks.
One thing that is getting overlooked here is Colorado senior quarterback Sefo Liufau. The Buffaloes went 10-3 this season, but in all three of their losses Liufau was injured and didn’t play the whole game. Those losses came to Michigan, USC and Washington, which are three of the top teams in the country. And the Buffaloes gave both USC and Michigan runs for their money. The loss to Washington was a bit fluky because the Buffaloes just gave that game away with turnovers.
Oklahoma State relies heavily on its passing attack, which averages 322 yards per game. Well, Colorado has one of the best pass defenses in the country. The Buffaloes only allow 47.9% completions, 181 passing yards per game and 5.4 yards per attempt to opposing quarterbacks. They also rank 7th nationally with 26 takeaways. There is NFL talent all over this secondary, and they have the goods to stop Mason Rudolph.
The Buffaloes are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games overall. Colorado is 7-2 ATS in its last nine vs. a team with a winning record. I think the Buffaloes come into the bowl season still undervalued because they didn’t look good in that loss to Washington, which was the only game they didn’t look good all season. They will get back on track with a big effort against the Cowboys here.
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