Oklahoma State’s win over Arizona in the 2010 Alamo Bowl was monumental for two reasons. First, it put the finishing touches on the first 11-win season in school history and it also set up the Cowboys 2011 Big 12 championship run and eventual Fiesta Bowl victory.
We’ll know in about 365 days whether OSU’s 38-8 victory over Colorado in the 2016 Valero Alamo Bowl on Thursday night will be a precursor to another Big 12 title or, in the hopes of Cowboys fans, something bigger in 2017.
The Cowboys dominated the Pac-12 runner-up Buffaloes en route to finishing the season with a 10-3 record. Colorado finishes 10-4.
Quarterback Mason Rudolph and receiver James Washington announced earlier in the week that they would be returning for their senior season next year, and the Cowboys juniors put on a show Thursday night.
Washington was named the Outstanding Offensive Player after catching nine passes for 171 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass that gave the Cowboys a 17-0 lead in the second quarter. The standout Cowboys receiver did not play the last quarter and a half after suffering a dislocated finger but he was able to participate in the postgame award ceremony.
OSU defensive tackle Vincent Taylor was selected as the Outstanding Defensive Player after making a team-high seven tackles, including one of the Cowboys’ three sacks.
Rudolph was 22-of-32 passing for 314 yards with three touchdowns – all to three different receivers (Washington, Blake Jarwin and Jhajuan Seales). Freshman running back Justice Hill ran for a game-best 100 yards, including a 37-yard in the fourth quarter, while senior Chris Carson ran for 61 yards and threw for 24 yards on a throwback pass to Rudolph.
“It just shows that the sky’s the limit for us,” Washington said when asked about the prospects for 2017. “We have so many weapons that we can go to. I’m blessed to be a part of it.”
The Cowboys took the opening kickoff and drove 64 yards in 10 plays before Ben Grogan’s 28-yard field goal made it 3-0 before Colorado even touched the ball.
OSU added touchdowns in the second quarter – Carson’s 10-yard scoring run and the Rudolph-to-Washington TD pass – to go up 17-0 at halftime.
Rudolph and the Cowboys put it away with the 6-yard TD pass to Jarwin and 23-yard scoring toss to Seales in the third quarter.
The Cowboys offense finished with 527 total yards – 199 more than Colorado was allowing on average this season – and scored 38 points against the nation’s 18th-ranked scoring defense (allowing only 20.5 points).
Just as impressive was the play of the Cowboys defense as Colorado scored its lone touchdown in the fourth quarter against the second teamers. The Buffaloes finished with 318 total yards, which was more than 128 yards below their average of 446.3 per game. The OSU defense held Colorado 24 points below their 32.8 scoring average.
Gundy was asked immediately after the game about Rudolph, Washington and the many other Cowboys who will be returning in 2017.
“Well, they’ve got a big job ahead of them to keep up with what these seniors did,” Gundy said. “That’s the challenge each year is to put this behind you and move forward. But tonight for these seniors, and the defense tonight was unbelievable, special teams was awesome and then offensively we were able to make some big plays, but we couldn’t do it without the sea of orange behind us. They were awesome all night long.”