November 5th

No easy games in 2011 … yet

Colorado will host four Pac-12 opponents in 2011, including Oregon, USC, Washington State, and Arizona. The Buffs will take to the road to play Washington, Stanford, Arizona State, UCLA and Utah.

The Buffs’ 2011 schedule, according to several sources, will look like this:

Sept. 3 – at Hawaii (currently 7-2, 5-0 in WAC)

Sept. 10 – home game – TBA

Sept. 17 – v. Colorado State in Denver (3-6, 2-3 in MWC)

Sept. 24 – at Ohio State (currently ranked 8th; 8-1, 4-1 in Big Ten)

Oct. 1 – WASHINGTON STATE (1-8, 0-6 in Pac-10)

Oct. 8th – at Stanford (currently ranked 10th; 7-1, 4-1 in Pac-10)

Oct. 15th – at Washington (3-5, 2-3 in Pac-10)

Oct. 22nd – OREGON (currently ranked 1st ; 8-0, 5-0 in Pac-10)

Oct. 29th – at Arizona State (4-4, 2-3 in Pac-10)

Nov. 5th – USC (5-3, 2-3 in Pac-10)

Nov. 12th – ARIZONA (currently ranked 13th; 7-1, 4-1 in Pac-10)

Nov. 19th – at UCLA (3-5, 1-4 in Pac-10)

Nov. 26th – at Utah (currentlly ranked 6th; 8-0, 5-0 in MWC)

The schedule, which has yet to be officially released, presents a dilemma. Colorado will only have four home Pac-12 conference games, with five on the road. In non-conference games, Colorado has the neutral site game against CSU, road games against Ohio State and Hawai’i, and an open home game (Fresno State was originally scheduled, but that game was cancelled when the Buffs moved to the Pac-12). That gives Colorado five home games (four Pac-12 games plus an open spot), seven road games (five Pac-12 games, Hawai’i, Ohio State), and the Rocky Mountain Showdown with CSU.

Colorado has the option for a 13th game on the schedule (the Buffs are allowed a 13th regular season game due to the game with Hawai’i). With Cal gone as a conference game, and Fresno State likely gone, there is still one game left to fill on the schedule. Best bet: neither Colorado nor Cal team will want to play the other in a “non-conference” game, so Colorado will have to fill the date with another non-conference opponent. Even then, the Colorado administration will have to explain to the Boulder sponsors how, even with a 13-game schedule, Folsom Field will only be used five times instead of the promised six.

Look for Colorado to find an “easy” game to replace the Cal/Fresno State game. Why?

1) It will be difficult to find a quality opponent willing to make a trip to Boulder without a return date; 2) the late date will limit options; and 3) Colorado has a tough enough schedule as it is. The new coach deserves a breather between games against Ohio State, Oregon, Utah, and USC. (Perhaps Wyoming, Northern Colorado or another MWC or 1-AA school? Not that the Buffs have had an easy time with its first two Big Sky conference opponents, Montana State and Eastern Washington).

With an “easy” game to round out the schedule, the Buffs will still have to face a tough slate in 2011. Colorado will start on the road against Hawai’i (which, by the way, hasn’t lost since falling in Boulder), come home to face CSU in Denver, then play it’s “easy” game before heading off to Columbus to face Ohio State. The Pac-12 conference slate includes four teams currently ranked in the top 13 in the country – Oregon, Utah, Stanford, and Arizona – plus unranked (for now) USC. Tough!

Still, if the Buffs can get a good coach who can get the program turned in the right direction quickly, there are winnable games on the schedule. If the Buffs do open with Hawai’i, Colorado State, and say, UNC or Wyoming, there are three games right there in which the Buffs will certainly be – at minimum – competitive. The two Washington schools lost last weekend by a combined score of 83-0, and both are on the 2011 schedule. As for the rest of the schedule, it will be tough to find wins, but UCLA and Arizona State have had their issues, and Arizona and depleted USC both come to Boulder.

This is not to say that Colorado will be an instant bowl contender in 2011, but neither should the Buffs automatically be considered a lock for the Pac-12 South division cellar. Much will depend on how events unfold in the next month or so …

Fearless Forecasts

Another week, another disappointment for the Fearless Forecasts. Seriously, when your team is giving up on the run (24 attempts) to throw the ball (44 attempts), you would think that the quarterback would end up with more than 200 yards passing! Instead, Cody Hawkins had 187 yards passing and remains 25 yards behind Kordell Stewart for second place on the all-time passing charts (6,481 for Stewart; 6,456 for Hawkins). As a result of the Buffs’ lack of offense, the Fearless Forecasts season total fell to 20-for-24 for the season.

Better luck this week, Cody! Here are this weekend’s Fearless Forecasts …

Rodney Stewart will surpass last year’s rushing total, and will pass Bobby Anderson and James Mayberry to become only the 5th player in Colorado history to have 12 100-yard games in a career … Actually, this is two predictions, but the latter of the two will be more difficult, so we’ll go with that. In 2009, Rodney Stewart led the Buffs with 804 yards rushing. To date in 2010, Stewart has 742 yards, leaving him only 52 yards shy of his 2009 total. So, to be fair, we’ll predict that Speedy will not only set a new career high, but will go for over 100 yards for the 12th time in his career, leaving him behind only Eric Bieniemy (22), Rashaan Salaam (14), Chris Brown (14), and Charlie Davis (13) in that category.

Paul Richardson will move into the top ten in receiving yards by a Colorado freshman … The last member of the Colorado Class of 2010, Richardson joined the team just two days before fall camp. Nonetheless, he has been one of the pleasant surprises of an otherwise disappointing year. Currently, Richardson is 11th on the all-time list for receiving yards by a freshman, with 171. If Richardson climbs above the 200 yard mark against Kansas, he will surpass two former players of note, two former Colorado stars who are coaches in the NFL, two potential candidates to replace Dan Hawkins as head coach in 2011 – Eric Bieniemy (186 yards receiving as a true freshman) and Jon Embree (193 yards).

The crowd at the Colorado/Kansas will be the smallest the Buffs will play before all season … While technically we would have to wait until the end of the year to see if this prediction comes true, we’ll go out on a limb and predict this one will be obvious come this Sunday. Even with a new coach and renewed optimism, Kansas remains a basketball school. In the opener, Kansas had 48,417 on hand. That crowd, however, witnessed a 6-3 loss to North Dakota State, and the fans haven’t been back since. In five home games, Kansas has averaged 46,769 customers, and that number doesn’t look likely to improve that much against 3-5 Colorado. To date, the smallest crowd the Buffs have played before was 47,665, the announced crowd for the Texas Tech game. With both schools announcing sold seats, rather than actual attendance, it will be interesting to see the numbers for the Kansas/Colorado game, as well as the next two home games for Colorado, against Iowa State and Kansas State.

How bad is it?

Something’s got to give this weekend.

Colorado and Kansas bring up the rear in almost every statistical category in the Big 12 when only conference games are considered. This should not come as a surprise, as the Buffs and the Jayhawks are the only winless teams in the Conference. Still, the numbers are impressive/depressing.

In 14 offensive and defensive categories tracked by the conference, both Kansas or Colorado are ranked 10th or lower in five, with one or the other ranked 10th or lower in seven others. The only two categories in which neither school is ranked 10th or lower are:  third down conversions, where Colorado is ranked 5th (43.1% conversioin rate), and Kansas is ranked 6th (41.3%); and Time of Possession, where Colorado is ranked 2nd in the Big 12 (31.44) and Kansas is ranked 8th (30:06).

In all, one of the schools is ranked dead last in ten of the 14 major categories. If it is of any consolation to Buff fans, Colorado is ranked last in only three (rushing offense, total defense, and net punting), while Kansas is ranked dead last in the Big 12 in fully half – seven – of the categories tracked (total offense, scoring offense, rushing defense, total defense, scoring defense, punt returns, and turnover margin).

On the national scale, with all games played being considered, Colorado is ranked 100th or lower (out of 120 schools) in four categories: red zone scoring percentage, offense (101st); scoring offense (103rd); pass efficiency defense (107th); and passing defense (112th). For Kansas, the numbers are even more bleak, as the Jayhawks are 100th or lower in no fewer than 13 categories, most notably: total offense (102nd); scoring offense (112th); rushing defense (112th); scoring defense (100th); and turnovers forced (dead last, at 120th).

Bring on the Jayhawks!

Injury Update

– Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb is still a question mark for the Colorado game. Webb, who has started six games this season, and who has led the Jayhawks to their only two victories, has a strained shoulder, which will be evaluated throughout the week … Kansas will have at least two quarterbacks available, though, as backup Kale Pick, who sat out last week with a concussion, will be available along with last week’s starter, Quinn Mecham. Pick won the starting job at the beginning of the season, but was pulled after the Jayhawks were upset in the opener, 6-3, by North Dakota State. “We’re still evaluating,” said Kansas head coach Turner Gill. “All three guys are in the mix.” For his part, Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins downplayed the issue of not knowing which quarterback would be the starter. “Obviously, each guy brings a little something different to the table,” Hawkins said earlier this week. “But I think in terms of what they’re trying to do schematically, it’s similar type stuff.”

– While the quarterback situation remains in flux, Kansas will have the services of kick returner D.J. Beshears this weekend. Beshears, is ranked 2nd in the Big 12 in kickoff returns, and has 177 yards rushing to go with 32 yards receiving. Beshears sat out the Iowa State game last weekend while serving a one-game suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

– On the Buffs side of the field, the only player who may not play this week who was on the field for the Oklahoma game is wide receiver Travon Patterson. The senior suffered a sprained ankle against the Sooners, and remains questionable for the game against Kansas … Nickel back Travis Sandersfeld, who returned to play last weekend for the first time since being injured in the game against Cal, is no longer on the injury list … Paul Vigo, who replaced Sandersfeld only to be injured himself in the Hawai’i game, has returned to practice, but is not expected to play this weekend.

– Two other Buffs are listed as probable for the Kansas game … Offensive tackle Bryce Givens sprained an ankle early in the game against Texas Tech, and did not travel to Norman, is expected to make the trip to Lawrence … Wide receiver William Jefferson suffered a hip pointer against Oklahoma, but is expected to be available against the Jayhawks.


November 2nd

“The games they remember are played in November”

The calendar has turned to November, which means its time for those teams with national championship aspirations to make their case to the pollsters. In Boulder, November, 2010, only stands for the proposition that it is likely to be the last month before the University of Colorado closes the book on the Dan Hawkins’ era at Colorado. While many Buff fans have turned their attention to the naming of the next head coach, the schedule says that there are still four games to play this month.

Up next is a Kansas squad which, if it is possible, is in worse shape that the Buffs. The Jayhawks are also 0-4 in Big 12 play, and have three ranked teams – No. 7 Nebraska; No. 17 Oklahoma State; and No. 12 Missouri – left to play after playing Colorado. Kansas has been out-scored 187-40 in four conference games (46-10), with its best game coming last week, a 28-16 loss to Iowa State (before that, the average score of the first three conference games was 53-8).

As a result, from a purely objective point of view, it is not a surprise that Kansas, which has gone 2-12 since losing in Boulder last season, is a nine-point underdog to Colorado this weekend. Of course, Colorado fans know that the Buffs have had no luck on the road since 2007, and would be skeptical of such a line …

We’ll see …

Injury Update

In getting routed 43-10, by Oklahoma (the game was not as close as even that score might indicate), the Buffs did at least get out of Norman relatively unscathed. Only senior wide receiver Travon Patterson was seriously injured, suffering a high ankle sprain. Head coach Dan Hawkins indicated that he was unsure whether Patterson would be able to play against the Jayhawks, going on to say that freshman wide receiver Paul Richardson “would get more pops” if Patterson is unable to go.

In the Colorado defensive backfield, there is finally some good news for a change. Defensive back Travis Sandersfeld, injured in the game against Cal, did see some playing time against Oklahoma, as is “close to 100 percent” for the Kansas game, according to Dan Hawkins. Paul Vigo, who replaced Sandersfeld at nickel back for the Hawai’i game, only to be injured himself, could also be available for the game against the Jayhawks – but in a more limited role.

On the Kansas sideline, the question for this weekend is which quarterback will start. Red-shirt freshman Jordan Webb has seen the most playing time in 2010, but he suffered a shoulder injury two weeks ago, and did not play against Iowa State. Sophomore Kale Pick was the starter at the beginning of the season, but was janked after losing to North Dakota State in the opener. Pick would have been the backup for the Iowa State game, but he is recovering from a concussion. This left first year head coach Turner Gill with no option but to put in third-string quarterback Quinn Mecham against the Cyclones. Though Kansas lost the game, 28-16,  Mecham’s play was satisfactory, with the junior college transfer going 22-for-33 for 149 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions.

A starter may not be announced until Thursday. The speculation is, however, that if Jordan Webb is healthy, he will take the first snap against Colorado.

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