Buffs, 'Bama bound for Independence Bowl
Dec. 30 game will be only bowl played that day
Every college football player dreams of playing on Sundays. The Colorado Buffaloes and Alabama Crimson Tide will get their chance.
The two storied programs will meet for the third time in the postseason on Sunday, Dec. 30, in Shreveport, La., in the 32nd annual Independence Bowl, officials announced Sunday. It is the only bowl game scheduled that day and will kickoff at 6 p.m. (MDT), following action in the National Football League.
"We historically get teams on the way up and I think that is definitely the case this yearwith these two teams," Independence Bowl chairman Joe Darwin said. "The most intriguing thing about it for us is we've never had Colorado here before. From a television standpoint, it's a great matchup. ESPN is very excited about it."
Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn said CU will have an advance team in Shreveport on Thursday to scout practice sites and begin planning team activities and hospitality events for fans. The Buffs will travel to Louisiana on Dec. 26 for the 28th bowl in program history.
"Obviously, we're excited because the Independence Bowl committee is so excited to have the Buffs," Bohn said. "That says a lot. We want to match their enthusiasm and give them a game that leaves them with a good impression of our team and our program as a whole."
Colorado has been inconsistent in supporting teams with fan support in bowl games and Big 12 Conference championship games. With the game located in SEC country, it figures to be another neutral-site game that feels more like a road game for the Buffs.
Bohn said he is committed to doing whatever possible to draw large number of fans clad in black and gold to Shreveport, including the possibility of chartering a plane for fans if the demand exists.
Darwin said the Independence Bowl isn't worried about CU's reputation of not traveling well.
Alabama is making an NCAA record 55th bowl appearance and its second consecutive trip to the Independence Bowl. The Crimson Tide lost last season to Oklahoma State in Shreveport, but it comes to town this year with a new coaching staff led by Nick Saban, who was hired away from the Miami Dolphins in January for a reported $32 million.
Saban said he has great respect for CU coach Dan Hawkins and he's looking forward to the contest against a quality Big 12 Conference team. He's also looking forward to seeing Ralphie IV, CU's live Buffalo mascot make her run.
Saban said he has seen Ralphie's pregame and halftime romps once before, when he served as an assistant coach at Michigan State in 1984 and the Spartans visited Folsom Field. Saban's team won that day 24-21.
"I think it's one of the great things about college football is the tradition and Colorado has great tradition," he said. "I cherish those traditions in college football."
Both programs finished the regular season with 6-6 records. They share one common opponent in Florida State. Colorado lost to FSU, 16-6, and Alabama lost to the Seminoles, 21-14.
The Buffs did so in Hawkins' second season as coach following a 2-10 season in 2006. The Buffs competed against one of the most difficult schedules in all of college football. CU played seven bowl teams, including four that were ranked among the top-14 teams in the Bowl Championship Series standings — the teams eligible to play in BCS games.
Alabama was disappointed to finish at .500 in Saban's first season as coach in a tradition-rich southern stronghold. The Crimson Tide started well in the Southeastern Conference, arguably the toughest conference in the sport, but lost its final four games, including a head-scratcher against Louisiana-Monroe.
CU and Alabama have played only twice before and both times came in bowl games. The Buffs won the first contest 47-33 in the 1969 Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. It was the final game in former CU running back Bobby Anderson's Hall of Fame career.
Alabama beat the Buffs 30-25 in the 1991 Blockbuster Bowl, a game memorable to many CU fans because of former coach Bill McCartney's decision beforehand to scrap the program's I-bone offense and switch to a passing-oriented attack.
McCartney explained the decision at the time saying he believed passing offenses were the future of college football. Looking around today, he appears to have been ahead of his time.
Along with the bowl bid, the Buffs also received some good news in the recruiting department on Sunday. According to Scout.com, five-star linebacker Lynn Katoa committed to CU over the weekend. Katoa is a 6-2, 220-pounder from Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City who is ranked by Scout as the No. 2 middle linebacker in the nation.
Among the other schools who offered Katoa a scholarship were Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Florida.
Paired with Ponderosa's Jon Major, that gives the Buffs two five-star linebackers in the current recruiting class.