Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Colorado Buffaloes
Bowl Game Pick: Colorado -3 (December 29th 2016)
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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.
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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.
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.
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While these teams have similar records, the one thing that can’t be argued is that Colorado played the much tougher schedule. The Buffaloes faced the 8th-toughest schedule in the country, while the Cowboys faced the 61st. I think the Cowboys get exposed here just as they did last year in their 20-48 loss to Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl.
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. Bet Colorado Thursday.
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