This almost seems like a perfect matchup. Cowboys vs Buffalo, in the Alamo (Bowl). It just feels like the premise of a wild west film. Both teams hope this game will play out like a movie, with a storybook ending to one of two storybook seasons. Unlike in the movies, no one knows who gets the happy ending, but there’s no point in going in blind, and that’s where LGG comes in. We’ll be previewing all 6 of the Big 12’s bowl season matchups, with regular preview articles like this one, as well as question and answer articles with our friends from Auburn, Colorado, Miami, Georgia, Boise State, and Texas A&M.
The Alamo Bowl tends to try to pit the 2nd best Big 12 team against the 2nd best PAC 12 team, and this year, they did a pretty great job. Both Oklahoma State and Colorado had excellent seasons, and this will be a great game to watch, even if you have no team in the fight.
Date/Time: December 29th/ 8:00 PM CST
Betting Line: No line
OKLAHOMA STATE (9-3)
Oklahoma State boasts one of the best offensive units in the country, led by Mason Rudolph, Chris Carson, and Justice Hill. The only problem with that offensive group is that, like every other offense in the country, they have a more difficult time scoring against good defensive units. Colorado certainly has that. Colorado is top 15 in essentially all defensive metrics, and will be the best defense Oklahoma State has faced all season. This game will be all about Oklahoma State’s offense against Colorado’s defense, and to win that battle, as well as other battles, Oklahoma State needs to know the keys.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Don’t Give the Ball Away: Oklahoma State has one of the worst defenses in the country. They allow 442 yards and 28 points per game, putting them at 105th and 67th respectively. Colorado also really likes to force turnovers, they’ve done it 25 times this year. It’s in Oklahoma State’s best interest to keep their top 20 ranked offense on the field, and keep their mid 100’s ranked defense off of it, especially inside their own 50. Colorado isn’t a volume scoring kind of team, but if the Buffs can find 28 points they’ll probably win, and giving them free points in a race to a low number is a bad idea.
Throw the Ball: Mason Rudolph was one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 this year. Generally, when he does well, the team does well. When he struggles, the offense stagnates, and Chris Carson and Justice Hill are tasked with leading it. While those two are talented players, Colorado has the 41st best rush defense in the country, which isn’t great, but it’s not something that should really be focused on by a passing team. If there’s lots of pressure, Mason could struggle, so the biggest necessity to accomplish this goal could be solid line play.
Force Colorado to Run: Colorado isn’t outwardly bad or good at much of anything on offense, they’re just average. Running the ball is another thing they’re just average at. Oklahoma State is better (used loosely) at defending the run compared to defending the pass, and Colorado is worse (used loosely) at running the ball compared to passing. When the teams are as evenly matched as these two teams are, you have to go to small statistical advantages, and use them to win the game. When Colorado does run, Oklahoma State has to know who the runners are, and while the running back is an obvious choice, Sefo Liufau, the quarterback, needs to be watched. He’s a strong runner, and can gash the defense if they aren’t aware of him. Obviously this whole plan goes out the window if Liufau is still hurt by kickoff, but as of right now I’m factoring him in.
This is one of the most interesting bowl matchups this season. It’s a great clash of styles, and the difference in where the strength is for each team should make for a close and entertaining game. The “close” part of that sentence might be a problem for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are mistake prone, and when they lost this year, aside from the Oklahoma game, it was close, and they just blew it with mistakes. Colorado has an opportunistic defense, and if this game is close late I could see Mason Rudolph launching a deep ball into a disastrous pick six.
If Colorado is going to win this game, it’s going to be because of Oklahoma State mistakes. I think Oklahoma State is the better team, but I also think they were the better team in all but 1 game they played this year, and they still have 3 losses.
I don’t think Oklahoma State will be able to keep out of their own way, and Sefo Liufau will make them pay for it. it’ll be close, but I just don’t see an OSU win against this Colorado defense. I have Colorado winning, 27-21.