Buffs, Bama In 2007 Independence Bowl
BOULDER - The University of Colorado has accepted an invitation to play the University of Alabama in the PetroSun Independence Bowl, athletic director Mike Bohn announced Sunday afternoon.
The 32nd renewal of the annual game in Shreveport, La., will be played on Sunday, December 30 with kickoff set for shortly after 6:00 p.m. mountain time. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN with the national radio broadcast on SportsUSA Radio. The last Sunday of the National Football League's regular season, the PetroSun Independence Bowl is the lone college bowl game that day.
It will be the Buffaloes' first appearance in the Independence Bowl, which began in 1976; it will be the third trip to the bowl for the Crimson Tide, all this decade, including a second straight visit to Independence Stadium. In 2006, Oklahoma State edged ?Bama, 34-31, in one of the postseason's most exciting bowl games.
The Independence Bowl has had a long standing tradition with Big 12 Conference teams, as CU's bid marks the 10th straight appearance for a league school in the game, as well as the 13th overall by member schools.
Both schools finished the regular season with 6-6 records, Colorado going 4-4 in the Big 12 to finish third in the North Division, while Alabama was 4-4 in Southeastern Conference play, sharing third place in the West Division. The two schools had one common opponent, as both suffered setbacks to Florida State, the Buffs falling 16-6 on Sept. 15 and the Crimson Tide succumbing 21-14 two weeks later.
The two teams were similar this year in quite a few areas aside from the won-lost records matching; Alabama opened 6-2 and dropped its last four, while CU was 4-2 at one point and finished up with the reverse mark down the stretch. In the five major offensive statistical categories, the two were separated by nine spots or fewer in the national rankings. CU defeated No. 3 Oklahoma 27-24 on Sept. 29, while ?Bama gave No. 3 LSU all it could handle in a 41-34 loss on Nov. 3.
Over the last 19 seasons, Alabama has the 17th best record in Division I-A (FBS), while Colorado has the 20th. CU's 41 wins over ranked opponents are the eighth most in the nation in this span, while Alabama's 36 are the 11th most.
The contest will also serve as a "rubber" game of sorts between the schools, as it will be the third meeting in football for the two, the first two also coming in bowl games. In the 1969 Liberty Bowl, Colorado defeated Alabama, 47-33, while in the 1991 Blockbuster Bowl, the Crimson Tide edged the Buffs 30-25 in a precursor to their national championship run the following season.
"We're excited that we will play a quality SEC team in one of the older and more traditional bowls around," Bohn said. "It's the only bowl game that day, so other than a late NFL game, two storied programs will have the spotlight to ourselves.
"We encourage our alumni, fans and students to be a part of it and come with us to Shreveport and be a part of this experience."
Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins was excited to be back in the postseason after missing the bowls his first season at CU.
"This is an important game for us, and it's a privilege to be matched against a school with as rich a tradition as Alabama," he said. "We're looking forward to playing the Crimson Tide and we appreciate the Independence Bowl committee selecting us.
"We're fired up, Alabama will be a huge test and we're looking forward to coming to Shreveport," Hawkins added. "I don't know a lot about them yet, other than they appear to be a lot like us. They've been up and down to some degree, but they've played a tough schedule and we know we have to strap it on and get ready."
CU has one player from the state of Louisiana on its roster, freshman wide receiver Kendrick Celestine. "This will be fun to go back home and it's exciting for me because my family will have a chance to come to the game," he said. Celestine hails from Mamou, La.
Colorado also has one player from Alabama, senior defensive end Alonzo Barrett. He's excited to go up against many players he hasn't seen since high school.
"I think it's kind of icing on the cake," Barrett said. "It will let me play against a lot of guys I haven't seen in a while, and there will be a lot more people from back home that will be able to watch me to play. Alabama is a real big football state, and most people know that they have a rich tradition at Alabama. We're both kind of at similar junctures right now, rebuilding for the future, so I am excited to be playing them."
Tickets will go on sale Monday morning (8:30 a.m.) at the CU Athletic Ticket Office at Folsom Field, located between gates 4 and 5 at the south end of the stadium, and will also be available on-line at www.CUBuffs.com. Prices are $35 and $40, along with a $25 ticket for students. Locations will be based on CU's priority point system; for more information, call 303-492-8337 (1-800-872-8337) or visit the CU website.
Each school's allotment of tickets for the game is 12,000.