Oklahoma State battles Colorado in the Alamo Bowl. Keep an eye on these storylines and predictions for the Cowboys in the game.
1. Special Teams Tilts in Cowboys’ Favor
There’s not much separating Oklahoma State and Colorado, as the point spread and rankings indicate. The Pokes, though, are going to enjoy a hidden edge on special teams, where P Zach Sinor and PK Ben Grogan were named All-Big 12 Second Team and Barry Sanders is elusive in the return game. This matchup was already going to be tight and competitive. But Grogan’s accuracy, Sinor’s ability to pin the Buffs and even Matt Ammendola’s strong kickoffs are going to provide support to both the offense and the defense of OSU.
2. DT Vincent Taylor Introduces Himself To The Country
The bowl season is an ideal time for a player like Taylor, known more in NFL scouting circles than the average sports bar, to enhance his brand. He’s one of the nation’s most disruptive interior linemen, yet playing defense in Stillwater is not a blueprint for widespread notoriety. Taylor will use the Alamo Bowl, and an opponent that likes running its quarterback and running backs between the tackles, to deliver one of the best defensive performances of the postseason. He’ll bust through the line on multiple occasions, flashing the uncommon agility and quickness for a 310-pound tackle.
3. Mason Rudolph Forced Into Repeated Third-And-Long Situations
Facing the Colorado defense, even without coordinator Jim Leavitt, is a tall order for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State is just a fair run blocking team, with RB Justice Hill making a lot of his yards on his own. And throwing the ball on a Buff secondary allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete only 48.3% of their passes is even more precarious. Rudolph has next-level arm talent, but he’s going to finish his junior season with three middling performances after struggling in the final two regular season road games with TCU and Oklahoma.
4. Jordan Sterns Busy In Run Defense
Colorado leans hard on the ground game, and aside from Shay Fields the receivers aren’t scary threats. In other words, defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer will ask his safeties, namely Sterns, to step up and fill running lanes without hesitation. Sterns is already far and away the Cowboys’ leading tackler, while racking up 62 solos. Pencil him in for at least another dozen stops as he charges hard to wrap up RB Phillip Lindsay, punish QB Sefo Liufau and make one final statement in front of pro scouts.
5. Cowboy Receivers vs. Buff DBs Won’t Disappoint
If you love in-game chess matches, don’t miss the Alamo Bowl, especially when Oklahoma State has the ball. Cowboy receivers Jalen McCleskey and especially James Washington going up against Chidobe Awuzie, Ahkello Witherspoon and Tedric Thompson will be nothing short of riveting. Washington is one of college football’s premier deep threats, and McCleskey has really stepped into the No. 2 role. But Colorado has been airtight for most of the year, save for the game against USC’s Sam Darnold. And the Buffs will again frustrate a talented QB, leaving Rudolph with tiny windows in which to operate.