Oklahoma State Football: Why the Cowboys will beat Colorado

With the 2016 Alamo Bowl right around the corner, we look at why the Oklahoma State football will beat Colorado on Dec. 29.

Under head coach Mike Gundy, the no. 12 Oklahoma State football team rank among the most consistent teams in college football. They own the 11th longest active bowl streak at 11 games. In that span of time, OK State made two appearances in the Cotton Bowl, once in the Fiesta Bowl, once in the Sugar Bowl, and also an Alamo Bowl berth. However, the Pokes struggled against high-level competition recently. In the 2014 Cotton Bowl against the

However, the Pokes struggled against high-level competition recently. In the 2014 Cotton Bowl against the Missouri Tigers, OK State came up short 41-31. Moreover, in the 2016 Sugar Bowl, the Ole Miss Rebels dominated the Cowboys 48-20.

The last time the Cowboys faced a team from the PAC-12 in a bowl game they won. OK State met the Washington Huskies in the 2015 Sugar Bowl and won 30-22 in quarterback Mason Rudolph’s first bowl game start.

This time around the Pokes face the no. 10 Colorado Buffaloes in the 2016 Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. CT. OK State enters with a record of 9-3 (7-2 Big 12), while the Buffs enter with a record of 10-3 (8-2 PAC-12). Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre recently won NCAA Coach of the Year after leading one of the surprise teams of the season to a top 10 ranking and PAC-12 South Title. This game stacks up like one best matchups of the bowl season.

OK State has the advantage in three areas Their offense operates at a higher tempo with the ability to score in the blink of an eye. The running back combination of true freshman Justice Hill and Chris Carson helps them control the clock. Lastly, the Cowboys have a small advantage with turnover margin. OK State’s turnover margin is 10 while the Buffs margin is 7.

When the Cowboys possess the capability of putting pressure on the quarterback, their defense plays at the highest level. Defensive tackle Vincent Taylor and defensive end Cole Walterscheid need to lead the OK State pass rush forcing effective pressure on Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau, who struggled with an ankle injury for much of the season. Liufau exited the games against Michigan, USC, and Washington, because of the same nagging injury resulting from a breakdown in his offensive line. If the Pokes can generate pressure, the Colorado offense becomes one dimensional and they rely too much on running back Phillip Lindsay. OK State proved during the regular season, at times, they stop one-dimensional offenses lacking a deep vertical attack.

In situations where the Buffs get in “grind-it-out” style games, teams don’t want to face them. For example, the Buffs beat the Stanford Cardinal 10-5 in one of the uglier contests in PAC-12 conference play.

Yet, it’s not likely that the Buffs hold the Pokes to less than 10 points. In fact, the Cowboys scored less than 24 only once this season, against the Oklahoma Sooners. The Buffs are 0-2 this season when they allow more than 40 points to their opponent. In effect, if OK State scores more than 40 points their chances of winning greatly increase.

This, in no way, looks like an easy victory for the Pokes. Colorado plays with an effort and motivation that few teams match. However, Gundy went through rough times with OK State more times than not in bowl games during the last five years. This year feels different. With Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington likely returning for the 2017 season there’s a lot on the line. A quick start from Hill and Carson coupled with a full month to prepare for the Buffs pass defense lets the OK State offense fully open up.

Expect a big game from the Pokes and a top 10 finish to the 2016-17 college football season.