Oklahoma State vs. Colorado prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the Alamo Bowl between the Cowboys and Buffaloes.
Oklahoma State vs. Colorado, Alamo Bowl Preview
When: Thursday, December 29 – 9:00 p.m. ET
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, TX
It’ll be a reunion of sorts when Oklahoma State and Colorado meet for the first time since 2009. The Cowboys and the Buffaloes shared a league for many years, the Big 8 until it ballooned into the Big 12. Colorado, though, has been a member of the Pac-12 since 2011, a move that seemed questionable until this past season. The Buffs have arguably been the biggest surprise of 2016, shockingly winning the South Division before a loss to No. 4 Washington ended a Rose Bowl bid. The Pokes were one victory away from a repeat Sugar Bowl appearance, losing to Oklahoma on Dec. 3 in the de facto Big 12 title game. The winner is going to finish the year in the top 10, which will have easily outdone preseason expectations.
What To Know About Oklahoma State
The Cowboys did a solid job of rallying from a 2-2 start, which included a disputed loss to Central Michigan. They won seven in a row to set up the winner-take-all game with the Sooners. As is often the case in Stillwater, Mike Gundy’s team is driven by the passing game. The offense averages 38 points per game, with most of the production coming on darts from Mason Rudolph to receivers James Washington and Jalen McCleskey. True freshman RB Justice Hill has been a factor, too, hitting 1,000 yards in Norman. Save for DT Vincent Taylor and S Jordan Sterns, the D is a soft spot, ranking 89th nationally in yards per play allowed.
What to Know About Colorado
Mike MacIntyre has done a remarkable job of reshaping this program. He’s using an enduring model that relies on physicality on both sides of the ball. This is not the stereotypical finesse Pac-12 team that leans heavily on speed and misdirection. The Buffs want to outmuscle opponents with QB Sefo Liufau and RB Phillip Lindsay between the tackles, while attacking defensively on coordinator Jim Leavitt’s orders. Colorado is particularly strong on the back end, standing third nationally in pass efficiency defense. CB Chidobe Awuzie headlines a senior-laden secondary that forces opposing quarterbacks to complete passes into tight windows.
Offense: Oklahoma State. The Buffs are good. The Cowboys are better, particularly at stretching the field and taking the top off defenses.
Defense: Colorado. Yeah, Washington exposed the Buffs a little on the ground, but the secondary is elite and linebackers Jimmie Gilbert and Kenneth Olugbode are tempo-changers from the second level.
Special Teams: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are solid in all phases, led by the right feet of P Zach Sinor and PK Ben Grogan.
Coaching: Push. Two outstanding head coaches, with MacIntyre narrowing the gap on Gundy. Leavitt is the most influential coordinator in this matchup.
Intangibles: Colorado. Even after losing in the Pac-12 title game, there’s no chance the Buffaloes, which haven’t bowled since 2007, won’t be jacked up for this opportunity to play on a national stage.
Matchup To Watch
Washington and McCleskey vs. Awuzie, CB Ahkello Witherspoon and SS Tedric Thompson
Forget just the Alamo Bowl. This is one of the best head-to-head battles of all the non-New Year’s Six bowl games. Washington, in particular, going face-to-face with Awuzie and Witherspoon will generate must-see moments. If the Cowboy receivers are neutralized, Hill and Chris Carson might have to step up and contribute more on the ground.
Oklahoma State vs. Colorado Betting Odds
Spread: Colorado -4.5
Over/Under: No line as of post
Oklahoma State vs. Colorado Prediction
The Buffaloes are the more complete team, with the defense to frustrate Rudolph and the Cowboy attack. Plus, they’ll play with the intensity and the want-to of a program that hasn’t appeared in a postseason game in almost a decade. Colorado will slow down the pace and turn the Alamo Bowl into a somewhat methodical, physical battle. It’ll also hammer Oklahoma State between the tackles, where Taylor won’t get enough help to prevent Lindsay from rushing for 100 yards or Liufau from burrowing through traffic for a couple of crucial scores.
Oklahoma State vs. Colorado Score Prediction: Colorado 34, Oklahoma State 28
Campus Insiders Staff Picks
Brian Stultz: Colorado
Jeff Bartl: Colorado
Rich Cirminiello: Colorado
Robert Judin: Colorado
Jordan Cornette: Colorado