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 152 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.