Remembering the Alamo Bowl

Buffs fans are going to want to forget the results of CU’s first bowl game since 2007.

They are going to want to forget the 38-8 humbling defeat at the hands of No. 13 Oklahoma State.

… To forget the 527 yards surrendered by the defense … Forget the sputtering Buff offensive attack … Forget that the Buffs finished the season with two losses by a combined score of 79-18.

It says here, however, that the Buffs, and by extension their fans, should remember what transpired in the Alamo Bowl.

The Buffs played the 2016 season with a chip on their collective shoulder. No one believed Coach MacIntyre when he said in August that the Buffs would compete for the Pac-12 championship.

Colorado was picked to finish last – again – in every preseason Pac-12 magazine and poll. The hashtag #TheRiseIsComing was catchy, but Buff fans wanted to see the uptick in the coaching staff and recruiting translate into victories on the field before they would believe the hype.

When the victories started coming, #TheRiseIsComing morphed into #TheRiseisReal, with the Buffs becoming bowl eligible eight games into the season, then guaranteeing a winning season in game nine. Next, a berth in the Pac-12 title game became a possibility, then a reality. There was even discussion, as November turned into December, of the Buffs sneaking into the College Football Playoffs.

Then, as ESPN put it, in its game recap of the Alamo Bowl … “Colorado’s best season in more than a decade — dubbed ‘The Rise’ — ended with a thud: consecutive losses in the Pac-12 title game and the program’s first bowl appearance since 2007”. 

Will the back-to-back drubbings to end the season provide the returning Buff players with enough of a chip on their shoulders to continue #TheRise?

Phillip Lindsay, the heir apparent as the Buffs’ team leader, believes so.

“Everything is kind of new for a lot of us,” Lindsay said. “Now we kind of got our feet wet, been in the Pac-12 championship, the Alamo Bowl. Now it’s about going back to the drawing board. Now we know how to get there and it’s about finishing. It comes down to finishing.”

Now, it is worth stating that the whole “Remember the Alamo” exhortation can be taken too far.

Remember how the CU men’s basketball team was humiliated by Pittsburgh, 77-48, in the opening round of the 2014 NCAA basketball tournament? Remember how head coach Tad Boyle had that score plastered everywhere in the basketball offices during the following off-season, so that the team would remember how poorly the previous season ended? Buff players saw “77-48″in the locker room, the weight room, their meeting rooms.

The players responded … with a 16-18 season and a loss to Seattle University in a strange contrivance known as the College Basketball Invitational.

Okay, so plastering 41-10 and 38-8 placards around the Champions Center might not be the answer, but the Buffs do need to remember the bitter taste they feel in their mouths today, and use it as motivation for the 2017 season.

As for us fans, there are other reasons to Remember the Alamo Bowl:

Buffs fans will remember … how Sefo Liufau limped to the end of his career at Colorado. Liufau went 3-for-13 for 21 yards (with three interceptions) against Washington, followed by an ineffective 18-for-29 for 195 yard performance against Oklahoma State. Liufau couldn’t move, couldn’t plant his feet, and, quite simply, couldn’t make the plays he had been making all season.

Buff fans should remember … Liufau for the great leadership he provided his team. Liufau’s records speak for themselves – close to 90, all told – but the numbers the senior quarterback posted tell only one part of the story. Liufau was the face of the team when it struggled, but also was the face of the team as it made its Rise. Remember Liufau for all that he brought to the CU program, and the legacy he leaves behind.

“Sefo helped us get to a 10-win season,” said MacIntyre. “He battled. He was our warrior all the way, helped turn the program around.”

“We did something special,” said Liufau of the CU seniors. “We didn’t finish with an exclamation point … but I wouldn’t trade this season for anything”.

— Buff fans will remember … The Colorado secondary being torched for 338 yards and three touchdowns by Oklahoma State quarterback Marcus Rudolph. “We felt like their secondary really hadn’t been challenged all year,” Rudolph said after the game. Chidobe Awuzie, a shut down corner all season, was often the victim as Cowboy wide receiver James Washington collected nine catches for 171 yards and a touchdown.

— Buff fans should remember … That Chidobe Awuzie and many of his defensive backfield teammates will be playing on Sundays. No excuses, but the reality was that the secondary was hampered by injuries to a pair of corners – Awuzie (turf toe) and Ahkello Witherspoon – who nonetheless tried to play. MacIntyre said Awuzie and Witherspoon “played hurt . . . . (they) tried to play as hard as they could. They hadn’t even practiced in over a week and a half”.

Remember the defense for it top 25 national ranking in both scoring and total defense. Remember how these Buffs went from surrendering 39.0 points two years ago to 21.7 this year.

— Buff fans will remember … how Joe Tumpkin failed in his “audition” as CU’s defensive coordinator. Should Tumpkin, the interim defensive coordinator for the Alamo Bowl after the defection of Jim Leavitt, be promoted from his current official position as the safeties coach? Should Tumpkin be given the job after the Buffs gave up 537 yards of total offense to Oklahoma State, and looked bad in doing so?

— Buff fans should remember … one game does not an audition tape make. The above-noted injuries aside, Tumpkin would bring numerous positives to the defensive coordinator position, should he be hired. Recall, that, before spending the last two seasons in Boulder, Tumpkin was the defensive coordinator – and a successful one at that – for five seasons at Central Michigan. Tumpkin has also proven to be an able recruiter, and his retention would provide stability in a coaching staff which could use some continuity going forward.

If Rick George and Mike MacIntyre can produce a “splash hire” at defensive coordinator, cashing in on CU’s improved marketability, then so be it. But Tumpkin should not be disqualified from consideration on the results of the Alamo Bowl alone.

— Buff fans will remember … the two blowout losses to end the season. Everyone wants to end a season on a high note. Everyone wants to go through the nine month off-season with a victory as the most recent memory. It won’t take long for naysayers to harken back to the conclusion of the 2005 season, when an otherwise successful campaign was marred by back-to-back blowout losses to Nebraska and Texas … and the firing of Gary Barnett.

Buff fans should remember … what a magical season the 2016 campaign truly was. There will be plenty of time to dissect the 2017 season in the upcoming months. The Pac-12 schedule (with home games against Arizona, USC, Cal and Washington, and road games against Washington State, Arizona State, Utah, UCLA and Oregon State) will be released in late January. The loss of eight seniors on defense will bring about much hand-wringing, while much will be expected from the offense, which returns eight starters.

For now, let’s just celebrate the ten-win 2016 Colorado football team. The 10-4 Buffs are just the eighth ten-win team in school history. These Buffs put together the greatest one-year turnaround in Pac-8/10/12 history, and one of the greatest turnarounds in NCAA history.

Consider an alternate universe, one in which the Buffs lost the regular season finale against Utah. The Buffs wouldn’t have been blown out in the Pac-12 title game, as they wouldn’t have gone. The Buffs wouldn’t have played in the Alamo Bowl, and perhaps might have fallen to the Foster Farms Bowl, playing Indiana in San Francisco instead of Oklahoma State in San Antonio.

A victory over the Hoosiers would have been more likely than one over the Cowboys. Indiana was 6-6 this year, with its head coach resigning due to “philosophical differences” with the school. The Hoosiers were coached in the Foster Farms bowl game against Utah by their defensive coordinator, who was last a head coach years ago … at an Indiana high school. Utah, a huge favorite, still needed a late field goal (and a late field goal miss by Indiana) to escape with 26-24 win.

But … Utah gets to go into its off-season with a victory.

Long story short … would you prefer to have a 10-3 Buff team, with a loss to Utah to end the regular season, but a win over Indiana in a bowl game? … or a 10-4 Buff team, which got hammered in successive games by top 15 teams to end the season?

As Bill McCartney was fond of saying, “To be the best, you have to play the best”.

The 2016 Colorado football team fell flat to end the 2016 season.

But that should not be their legacy.

“In the  locker room after the game it was a really neat, neat time,” said Mike MacIntyre. “Those young men will be remembered to me, should be remembered for a long, long time for what they’ve done for Colorado football.”

Very true. It’s been a tough pair of games, but it took a ten-win season to qualify to even play in those games.

That’s what we should remember about the 2016 Alamo Bowl.



10 Replies to “Remembering the Alamo Bowl”

  1. Ten Wins. South Division champs. Gonna be rated in the AP top 25.

    Haven’t seen that for awhile eh?

    Weakness going forward has been identified. Year 5. Mac2 gotta take the next step. Lots of life lessons taught by Mac2. Time to get the X an O stuff squared away.

    Gonna be a good class. Hope they all stay and get the last 5 the Buffs need. They are identified. Please close on them. Feel real good about the players staying and even better about the players coming. Now gotta coach em up and give the the Scheme and the plays to win. Damn some of those bowl teams have great offenses. Better players? Not so much.

    The Rise was real no question.
    Now The New Era needs to be real.

    Uh Oh Her Comes The New Era of the Mighty Buffalo

  2. So now we lose another defensive coach. Not Good.

    But this was a great great year.

    Year 4. Even better than Mac1. Nice

    The defense won the games this year. Now the Leader is gone and a really good db coach as well.

    Gonna be tough to replace. Gonna effect recruiting. The guys that have not signed yet.

    The offense? Did you watch any other offenses in bowl games? Mein Gott, the Mighty Buffs are so down level it is sickening. Totally.

    If Lindgren is still here, Mac2 is a frigging idjit. I don’t expect Lindgren to be here. Mac is smarter than that……………I hope.




    The rise………………is it stalled or not……

    New Era, the new push by Chev. I hope that means Lindgrening is gone.

    Note: Rewatch the game…………….Those booth shots of Lindgren reflect the results

    Note 2: Loan sharks………….sell ya…….. but they don’t know

    1. Hi Vk. I hope your new year is happy. Hey, that high flying Husky offense suddenly wasn’t, when they ran into 11 future NFL players. Actually probably 18 future NFL players, if you count their two deep.

      Or did Petersen and co forget how to coach offense, I wonder?

      Just sayin’.

      Enjoy 2016. The rise will continue into 2017 and beyond.

      Go Buffs!

  3. Great writeup, Stuart! Thanks for continually feeding our hunger for Buff football news! Happy New Year!
    Go Buffs! ’73

  4. The last two were painful, but thanks to the Buffs for a better season than most of us thought possible.

    I think the Buffs benefited somewhat from a down year for most of the PAC-12, but they got to the championship and a bowl, and hopefully the RISE will continue next year.

  5. Stuart,
    Awesome article. Thanks for providing this forum and for putting things in perspective. It has been a great year and we really do have lots to look forward to.
    Go Buffs, David

  6. Remembering the Alamo ! The year 1836, 180+ years ago, that actually didn’t go so well for the home team and some rather well know players. But, like that late Feb. early March loss, it set the tone and standard for victories to come.

    Thank you 2016 Buff’s for taking the decade of frustration, on your backs and delivering a 10 – 4 season. We will not forget your courage and dedication,

    “The Pride and Tradition of the Colorado Buffaloes will not be entrusted to the timid or the weak! Let’s Ride!! #Rise.” (D. Chiaverini )

  7. Thanks for a little perspective Stuart! The last two games were a microcosm of the season, just all of the weaknesses were exposed simultaneously. This team did turn things around, and that should never be forgotten.

    Lets hope that 2017 is the season Mac thought it would be!

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