SAN ANTONIO - Colorado established itself as a dominant force on defense this season.

The CU defense that played in the Alamo Bowl on Thursday wasn't the same as the group that led the Buffaloes to a 10-win season, however.

Playing without the coordinator that led their resurgence, and going with two cornerbacks hobbled by injuries, the Buffs yielded 527 yards in a 38-8 loss to Oklahoma State at the Alamodome.

Earlier this month, defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, who took the Buffs from near the bottom of the country to near the top in two seasons, left CU to take the same at Oregon. Safeties coach Joe Tumpkin filled in, but head coach Mike MacIntyre said that had nothing to do with the performance.

"I don't think we missed a beat," he said.

They did, however, miss a beat at cornerback, where seniors Chidobe Awuzie and Ahkello Witherspoon weren't fully healthy.

"We were hurt," MacIntyre said. "They tried to play as hard as they could. They tried to play and give all they could."

Awuzie and Witherspoon were both injured in pre-bowl practices and didn't practice in the week leading up to the game.

Awuzie had turf toe, an injury that caused him to miss time in high school, MacIntyre said.

"He played OK, but he wasn't himself," MacIntyre said.

Awuzie went one-one-one with Oklahoma State star receiver James Washington, who caught nine passes for 171 yards and a touchdown.


He beat Awuzie several times and could have had another touchdown that he dropped.

Witherspoon had a shoulder injury and didn't start the game. He came into the game late in the first half and tried to play the rest of the way.

"He wasn't able to lift his arm above his head till yesterday," MacIntyre said. "He wanted to try to play. So he toughed it out and tried to play."