Oklahoma State and Colorado will renew an old rivalry that dates back to membership in the Big Eight Conference when the Cowboys take on the Buffalos in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.
This could be a classic match between a strong offense and a stout defense.
The series between OSU and CU dates back to 1920. The two teams played every year as members of the Big Eight Conference and that extended into the Big 12 era. This is the first meeting between the two teams since Colorado moved to the Pac-12 in 2011.
“Our young men are excited about playing a very excellent Oklahoma State team,” said Colorado coach Mike McIntyre. “It’s pretty cool, this is the first time since Colorado left the Big 12, that we’re playing a Big 12 opponent, so I know all our fans are excited about that.”
“When I first got here, Colorado was still in the conference,” OSU defensive coordinator Mike Spencer said. “I remember making the trip up there and how pretty it was, I love the town of Boulder. A lot has happened since then in the Big 12 and all they’ve done is gone off and struggled for a while, it proves what a good man, the right man will do. If you get that in the situation, with those facilities, in that area of the country I think you’re going to do well and Mike’s done that.”
The Buffaloes lead the all-time series, 26-19-1, but Oklahoma State has won three of the last four, including a 31-28 victory in 2009 when the two teams last met. Colorado won the Pac-12 South division this year but lost a bid to the Rose Bowl to USC. Colorado comes into the bowl season having won six of their last seven games, with the lone loss coming to No. 4 Washington.
Colorado was 14-48 in the last five seasons before this year. MacIntyre was honored as the 2016 Pac-12 Coach of the Year and the National Coach of the Year.
“I followed Mike’s career, Coach MacIntyre’s career,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. “What a tremendous year. I appreciate what he’s accomplished with a great team. “The one thing that coach’s team has done is they play hard. As an opponent coach, that’s not something we like to see. We like when guys take plays off. Colorado doesn’t take plays off.
“The reason they’ve had success, in our opinion watching them, is they play hard.”
CU picked up quality wins at Stanford and at home against Washington State and Utah.
The Buffs led the Pac-12 in first downs defense, pass defense, red zone defense, pass efficiency defense and defensive touchdowns. CU ranks among the top 20 nationally in all of those defensive categories, plus turnovers gained, third-down defense, fumbles recovered, interceptions, scoring defense and total defense.
Colorado averages 32.8 points per game. The Buffs are more of a running team than a passing team. Of Colorado’s 50 offensive touchdowns this season, 29 came on the ground and 21 came through the air. The Buffs average 5.59 yards per play.
On special teams, Isaiah Oliver returned a punt for a touchdown in CU’s win over UCLA. Coverage has been problematic for the Buffs, who rank 126th nationally in kickoff return defense and are 121st nationally in net punting. Chris Graham has successfully converted 10 of his 14 field goal attempts on the year.
Gundy said OSU has recovered from their season-ending loss to rival Oklahoma.
“Every game that you end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard are tough to get over for players,” Gundy said. “As coaches, we understand the commitment.
“We ask our players to absorb information, to be fully committed, to take care of their bodies, do everything they can possibly do Sunday through Friday to go out and play a game on Saturday and have fun.
“There’s about 132 teams that play at our level. Unfortunately half of them don’t win on Saturday. So if we were to ever hang our hat on a win or a loss every Saturday, this would be a sad profession, and it wouldn’t be a fun game to play for the players.
“We want to win them all. But as a coach, as I said earlier, and what Coach Mac said, I think he’s stealing some of my thunder a little bit, but we teach life lessons. We’re committed to taking young men and in four to five years putting them out there in the real world. Hopefully we’ve prepared them to be successful socially, be good fathers, husbands, commit to society.
“There’s a bigger picture. Not to discredit, we want to win them all. But I get over the games really fast because I believe if we think one second about the past, that keeps us from thinking about being positive in the future, then that’s one second that doesn’t give us an opportunity to be successful the next day.”
The Cowboys released their new schedule. Oklahoma State will host Tulsa and travel to South Alabama and Pittsburgh in nonconference play in 2017. OSU will have a bye October 7.
With the reinstatement of the Big 12 Championship, OSU will end the regular season against Iowa State, Kansas State and Kansas. The Bedlam match with OU has been moved up to November 4.
2017 OSU Football Schedule
Sept. 2 – Tulsa
Sept. 9 at South Alabama
Sept. 16 at Pittsburgh
Sept. 23 – TCU
Sept. 30 at Texas Tech
Oct. 14 – Baylor
Oct. 21 at Texas
Oct. 28 at West Virginia
Nov. 4 – Oklahoma
Nov. 11 at Iowa State
Nov. 18 – Kansas State
Nov. 25 – Kansas
Dec. 2 – Big 12 Championship Game (Arlington, Texas)