Programming note: The Alamo Bowl will kick off at 9:10 p.m ET on ESPNews, and will move to ESPN once the Belk Bowl concludes.
The Alamo Bowl shapes up like a really good one in 2016. It pits the Big 12’s runner up, Oklahoma State, against the Pac-12’s, Colorado. Both had strong seasons but got whomped in either official or unofficial conference championship games, and now they’re here. Someone will reach 10 or 11 wins and do it with gusto, and someone else will finish 0-2 and not get a bowl win. The stakes are pretty significant for a non-New Year’s Six bowl game, and the action at the Alamodome should be great fun.
The teams have different strengths. Colorado’s is defense, and Oklahoma State’s is definitely offense. But both are good, and they should be a good match. Watch this entire game, but prepare to be most captivated when Oklahoma State has the ball. It’ll be the first game for the CU defense without coordinator Jim Leavitt, who’s off to Oregon. But not a ton should change, at least in the interim.
How to watch, stream, and listen
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Thursday, ESPN. The announcers are Adam Amin, Mack Brown, and Molly McGrath.
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: Colorado opened as a 2-point favorite. The line has stayed right about there but gotten a little bigger at most books.
Three big things to know
1. Oklahoma State might have one big advantage. The Pokes have benefitted all year from strong field position, while the Buffs have been pretty lousy in that department. The OSU offense starts its average drive at its own 33-yard line, while the defense starts at the other team’s 24, the best mark in college football. Colorado’s field position on both sides of the ball has been near the bottom of the country. Lots of ingredients go into field position — red zone defense, special teams, turnovers, etc. — but OSU has had such an edge all year that you’d think the Pokes find it again.
2. The Colorado passing game can really shred. Oklahoma State doesn’t stop the pass well at all, and that’ll be a problem against Colorado. Whether starter Sefo Liufau plays the whole game or comes out for backup Steven Montez, Colorado should be able to throw pretty close to at will. The OSU secondary is not good, and if the Buffs don’t get somewhere around 300 air yards, it’ll come as a surprise. (They got a paltry 81 in the Pac-12 title game, but Washington is not Oklahoma State.)
3. These are two good turnover teams. A close game can turn on turnovers easily, and these teams are both really good at them, with both sitting in the top 25 in cumulative margin. OSU is plus-10, and Colorado is plus-7. If someone can add a plus-1 or plus-2 at the Alamodome, there’s a pretty great chance that team will be the one that wins.