Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Colorado Buffaloes

Valero Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Colorado Buffaloes

Date: Dec. 29, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN

Location: Alamodome | San Antonio

Oklahoma State

Best moment: October wins over Texas, after two losses in three weeks, and West Virginia at home were satisfying, but the Cowboys produced their most complete performance in a 31-6 Week 12 win at TCU. Oklahoma State dominated in handing the Horned Frogs their worst home loss since 1997.

Lowest moment: The Week 2 loss to Central Michigan that loomed large late in the season after the Cowboys resurrected their season in Big 12 play. The Cowboys should never have let CMU stay close. And officials should not have awarded an untimed final down to the Chippewas, who won the game on a Hail Mary.

Key player: Mason Rudolph quietly ranked among the top quarterbacks nationally over the final two months of the season. Rudolph improved upon his first season as the starter a year ago to grow into the Cowboys’ offensive leader and primary source of production during a six-game midseason stretch in which OSU averaged 42.7 points.

Motivation level: A 10-win season remains within reach, but Oklahoma State enters the postseason still feeling the sting of disappointment that Oklahoma delivered in taking a Big 12 title from the Cowboys’ grasp. Rudolph and many of the top weapons, offensively and defensively, return next year, so there’s incentive to gain a head of steam for 2017. -- Mitch Sherman


Best moment: The Buffs opened some eyes by playing Michigan tough at the Big House, but it wasn’t until the following week at Oregon when the program finally got its signature win. Ahkello Witherspoon's interception in the final minute sealed it, and while Oregon’s season went south from there, it set the stage for Colorado’s amazing run.

Lowest moment: Quarterback Sefo Liufau's touchdown pass to Shay Fields early in the third quarter against Michigan gave the Buffs a 28-24 lead, but it was his last play of the game due to injury. With Liufau out, Michigan rallied, and the same injury prevented him from playing in Colorado’s only other loss of the regular season – at USC.

Key player: Liufau. Steven Montez is a capable backup with a bright future, but perhaps no one in the Pac-12 meant more to his team this year than Colorado’s senior quarterback.

Motivation level: High. This is a program that hasn’t won a bowl game since 2004 or played in a bowl since 2007. That should tell you everything you need to know about what it means to Colorado. -- Kyle Bonagura