The 1988 Freedom Bowl pitted former Mountain States Conference rivals BYU and Colorado against one another for the first time in a bowl game. It was only the second time the two teams met one another in football since the Buffaloes joined the Big 8. BYU (8-4) came into the game in a bit of a tailspin after losing three of its final four regular season games. Colorado was a team on the rise and was a year away from becoming a fixture in the top 10.
BYU fell into an early hole after a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs from Eric Bieniemy gave Colorado a 14-7 halftime lead. The Cougars rallied in the second half after backup quarterback Ty Detmer was inserted into the game. Detmer completed 11-of-19 passes for 129 yards in the second half. Trailing 17-14 in the fourth quarter, BYU eventually won the game on a pair of field goals - one from 31 yards and another from 35 yards - from kicker Jason Chaffetz. In the stats department, BYU ran for 1 52 yards on 42 carries while the Buffaloes ran for 273 yards on 60 carries. In passing, BYU had 168 yards on 15-of-28 combined, with one interception. Colorado was 5-for-16 with 64 yards and two interceptions.
The Bowl game served as a springboard for both programs over the next couple of seasons. Colorado would end up claiming a split national championship in 1990, while Detmer won the Heisman the same year and led BYU to a top-10 ranking at two different points during the same season.