Colorado heads south to San Antonio for their first bowl trip since 2007. While the departure of Jim Leavitt has left some questions for the Buffaloes defense, the seniors are looking to finish their careers with one last memory, a memory that caps one of the most impressive turnarounds in Colorado history. The Buffaloes look to rebound from their blowout loss to Washington in the PAC-12 Championship game, where they were pushed around, and Sefo Liufau was injured during the first drive.
Oklahoma State heads south to San Antonio coming off a blowout loss at the hands of the Oklahoma Sooners in the season finale. The Cowboys are led by quarterback Mason Rudolph, who recently announced that he would be returning for his senior season next year. Running back Justice Hill is another player to watch, as he’s rushed for over 1000 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. Leading receiver James Washington has over 1200 yards and 9 TD’s, but may have his work cut out for him against a big and physical Colorado secondary that has played well all year. The Cowboys finished the season ranked #12 in the country with a 9-3 record.
Offensively for Colorado, they need to get back to pushing the pace. Oklahoma State’s defense gives up over 28 points per game, and their rushing defense gives up over 200 yards per game. If Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau is healthy, expect a healthy dose of runs from Phillip Lindsay as well as designed quarterback runs to force OSU to play 11 on 11. The red zone will also be a huge key to the Alamo Bowl. Colorado has had issues finishing drives inside the 20, and the Cowboys play a bend but don’t break defense. If Colorado has to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns in the red zone, it could really hinder their chances to win.
Defensively for the Buffaloes, it comes down to making Oklahoma State one-dimensional. The Cowboys gained over 70% of their yards on offense through the air, which is the biggest strength of the Colorado defense. Mason Rudolph struggled against Oklahoma in poor conditions, and was harassed by the Sooners all night. Jimmie Gilbert needs to get pressure of the edge and force Rudolph into making mistakes, something he hasn’t done much of this year, only throwing 4 interceptions the whole season. Joe Tumpkin takes over the play calling for the defense, and all signs point to a seamless transition from the departed Jim Leavitt.
Are the Buffaloes just happy to be in a bowl game? This question will be answered on Thursday night. For this senior class, it ends a tumultuous ride from the bottom to the top of the PAC-12. All those guys care about “The Rise” and want it to continue into the future. Quarterback Sefo Liufau is going to get his storybook ending at Colorado, with a 38-24 victory in the Alamo Bowl, and an MVP trophy.