Colorado at Oregon State – A Preview … Your “T.I.P.S.” for the Buffs’ trip to Corvallis

The Colorado Buffaloes take on the Oregon State Beavers Saturday night (8:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks), in a game which will be the last to kickoff in Week Eight of the college football season (Washington at Stanford also kicks off at 8:30 p.m., MT).

The game will garner virtually no national attention, featuring the only two teams in the Pac-12 without a victory in conference play, and the only two teams in the league who have overall losing records.

And yet, for the coaches, players and fans of the two participants, the showdown at Reser Stadium could be the most important game of the year.

There is parity in the Pac-12 this year.

Washington State took out Oregon in Eugene, but only after opening the season with a loss to Portland State … USC opened the season as a top ten team, but currently sits at 3-3 and is looking for a new coach … There were six teams from the Pac-12 which were ranked in the top 25 to open the season, but only one of those six remains (Stanford) in the poll this week … Meanwhile, two of the three teams from the conference which are ranked this week (Utah and Cal) were unranked to start the season.

On any given Saturday, it seems, almost anyone in the Pac-12 can beat anyone else.

Except no one has been able to beat Utah or Stanford in league play … and everyone has been able beat Colorado and Oregon State.

How wide is the gap between the bottom two and the rest of the league?

In the ESPN Pac-12 Power Rankings this week, UCLA and USC were ranked No. 9 and No. 10 … two teams which spent time in the top ten in the national rankings this season. That, dear friends, is a Grand Canyon-sized gap.

This weekend, the two bottom feeders of the conference will get together to decide which team is the 11th-best in the Pac-12, and which is to be labeled – from now until at least September, 2016 – as the worst team in the Pac-12 conference.

Saturday night’s game may not be that important to the rest of the college football world … but it is very important to fan bases in Boulder and Corvallis.

Here are this week’s “T.I.P.S.” for Colorado at Oregon State …


T – Talent

Arizona backup quarterback Jerrard Randall demonstrated, in no uncertain terms, the means by which teams have been taking it to the Colorado defense for years.

The Buffs were able to keep the Wildcats at bay for almost 40 minutes of game clock last weekend, from the first seven minutes of the game until early in the fourth quarter. Colorado managed to shut out the highest-scoring offense in the Pac-12 for 38:29 … then Jerrard Randall took over behind center.

The 6’1″, 185-pound senior went in for the ineffective Anu Solomon … and ran the Buffs into the ground. Randall led the Wildcats to three straight touchdown drives – two of over 90 yards in length – while needing to throw the ball only three times. Meanwhile, Randall posted 11 carries for 81 yards on those three drives, turning a 24-17 CU lead into a 38-31 Arizona victory.

The Oregon State quarterback is Seth Collins, a 6’3″, 195-pound freshman who can run. Collins as a passer has not been all that impressive, completing just 52% of his passes (with six touchdowns and four interceptions). He is much more effective as a runner, with three 100-yard rushing games (CU’s running backs have a combined total of four 100-yard rushing games this season).

Colorado gets linebacker Kenneth Olugbode back this weekend. With Olugbode and Gillam out of the lineup the last two weeks, Arizona State went for 231 yards on the ground; Arizona for 291. Buff fans hope Olugbode’s return will help shore up a defense which has been gashed in recent weeks.

The game plan for Oregon State: run the ball, using Collins and running back Storm Woods (351 yards rushing in the first six games of the season). Colorado, meanwhile, will be looking to stop the run and contain Collins.

On the other side of the ball, Colorado will be looking for a big game on offense. Oregon State is 84th in the nation in total defense, giving up 414.7 yards per game, and 102nd in scoring defense, surrendering 33.5 points per game. In their first three Pac-12 games, the Beavers have given up 42, 44, and 52 points, allowing an average of 551 yards per game.

Colorado, of course, has given up 41, 48, and 38 in its three Pac-12 games … and 548 yards per game.

The Buffs will need to out-score the Beavers to win, but will go into the game without running back Michael Adkins (hamstring injury which has kept him out four weeks) and leading wide receiver Shay Fields (high ankle sprain suffered as he was scoring his second touchdown against Arizona last Saturday night).

If Sefo Liufau and Nelson Spruce are to ever re-create some of the magic from their record-setting 2014 campaign, Saturday night would be a good time to make it happen.


I – Intangibles

Both teams come into Saturday night’s game with a harsh reality staring them right in the face: Both teams (or at least their fans) see this game as their best chance at a win this season.

After this weekend, both Colorado and Oregon State will suit up for five more games, so there will still be opportunities for victories.

At least on paper.

Colorado’s last five games: at UCLA; Stanford; USC; at Washington State; at Utah.

Oregon State’s last five games: at Utah; UCLA; at California; Washington; at Oregon.

Other than the Week 11 matchups against the Washington schools, it’s hard to see either the Buffs or the Beavers – based upon what they have shown to date – keeping up with any of their other opponents. Upsets are always a possibility, but reality suggests that the loser of this game has a better than even chance of going 0-9 in Pac-12 play this fall.

For Colorado, it would be the second-straight year without a conference win (after going 99 seasons without a season of equal ignominy).

For Oregon State, the stakes are different. The Beavers are playing with a new head coach, Gary Andersen, who came to Oregon State from Wisconsin, and are an in unfamiliar position. True enough, Oregon State is 76th on the all-time wins list (CU is 25th), and has five conference titles in its history (CU has 26), but of late, the Beavers have had much more success than have the Buffs. The Beavers went bowling just two years ago, finishing a 7-6 season with a win over Boise State in the Hawai’i Bowl.

Last year, Oregon State went 5-7, 2-7, in the final season under Mike Riley. Not great, but still probably better than what the Beavers are going to post this year. Oregon State is struggling with a young team and a new coach. They are fighting to keep from slipping back into the depths of the Pac-12 pecking order.

Meanwhile, Colorado is already down there, and has been since joining the conference.

I guess my point here is that CU players are fighting for something – to climb out of the basement – while Oregon State players are fighting to prevent something – sliding down.

I see that is an advantage for the Buffs … a slight one, but we’ll take whatever we can get.


P – Preparation / Schedule

We are far enough into the schedule that every team is beset with injury issues, with less talented teams suffering more due to lack of depth.

Colorado fans are very cognizant of the Buffs’ injury issues (CU has lost 29 full games from the two-deep, from 13 different players). Oregon State, for its part, has not been immune. The Beavers’ defensive secondary has been hit hard with injuries, with three red-shirt freshmen now receiving significant playing time.

The Buffs will be without its leading receiver, Shay Fields, this week, but get back last year’s leading tackler, linebacker Kenneth Olugbode.

The Beavers, meanwhile, may be without starting right cornerback Larry Scott, but may get back star defensive lineman Jalen Grimble.

Neither team has much reason to look past the other. Colorado next weekend travels to the Rose Bowl to take on UCLA, while Oregon State has to travel to Salt Lake City to take on Utah. Not much reason for excitement for the fan bases in those contests.

So, unless we need to make another weekly note that CU is undefeated in games starting before 7:00 p.m., and winless in games starting after 7:00 p.m., we can move on …


S – Statistics

Even buoyed by the padded non-conference statistics, the numbers for Colorado are starting to slide back toward more familiar territory.

The Buffs, having been run over – literally – by Oregon, Arizona State, and Arizona – are now 110th in the nation in rushing defense, giving up 210.6 yards per game. As noted above, the Beavers ability to run the ball (OSU is 48th in the nation in rushing offense) will figure prominently this weekend.

Below are some statistics for the Buffs … with some offsetting numbers from Oregon State. The team which breaks their trends from the first half of the season will likely be the winner Saturday:

– Colorado is 98th in total defense (429.9 ypg.) … but Oregon State is only 114th in total offense (332.7 ypg.);

– Colorado is 100th in sacks allowed (19) … but Oregon State is 107th in sacks by (8).

Meanwhile, there is every reason to believe that both teams will look to establish the running game:

– Colorado is 42nd in the nation in rushing offense (191.7 ypg.) … while Oregon State is 103rd in rushing defense (198.5 ypg.);

– Oregon State is 48th in the nation in rushing offense (187.2 ypg.) … while Colorado is 110th in rushing defense (210.6 ypg.).

Prediction … Last weekend, Oregon State tried a fake punt from inside their own 20 yard line and an onsides kick, both in the first half when the game against Washington State was still a contest. Both trick plays were unsuccessful, but both play calls indicate that new head coach Gary Andersen is not above taking risks. The Beavers brought in an offensive consultant this week, and Andersen was quoted as saying that we will “maybe see some different things on Saturday”.

Sounds like a coach willing to pull out all of the stops to win a Pac-12 game.

Sounds like a coach who understands the significance of this game to his team and the immediate future of the program.

Meanwhile, coach MacIntyre had this to say about the significance of the Oregon State game: “I think our players are trying to play. Which is a big hump that we got over, we just need to go make the plays, and coach a little bit better, and have the ball bounce our way a couple more times”.

It was just last week that there was a players’ only meeting, fights in practice, and a “guaranteed win” from the head coach. This week, after yet another tough loss, there hasn’t been much woofing from the Buffs.

Does this mean that they have gone silent, quietly seething, anxious for a chance to exploit the other weak team in the conference?

Or does it mean that the Buffs have given it their best shot, come up short, and have been beaten down into a losing mindset yet again?

We’ll find out Saturday night.

I picked with my heart instead of my head last week, and got burned by my Buffs.

This week, I’m going with the Buffs again. Not because I am confident of victory … but because it may well be my last chance in 2015 to pick a Colorado victory.

Buffs cash in when Beavers make mistakes late … Colorado 37, Oregon State 33.



10 Replies to “CU at Oregon St. – A Preview”

  1. The BUFFS have to do something that they have not done in a long time in the PAC12. They must finish a game and win it.

    That means as perfect a game from Sefo and our coaching staff then they have ever had. Neither has shown that they can accomplish that in the PAC12.

    This seems to be the best chance they have to win a conference game this year and my hopes are with them.

    I don’t feel overly confident but i am gonna go with our boys.


    GO BUFFS !!!!

  2. I can tell you this, a lot of Beaver faithful thought 2015 was already going to be a tough year in Corvallis and that was before Riley jumped to NU. Equally so they were ecstatic when the Beav’s hired Andersen away from Wisconsin.

    Lately, there has been quite a bit of grumbling about the quality of play and ability of several of the coaches on this new staff, as not being ready for P5 competition.

    All of my wife’s former in-laws and her children are Beaver fanatics going back to when it was called Oregon State Agriculture College. It has been a little hard to discern lately whether I’m listening to a Buff or Beaver discussion. Even with low early season expectations, the Buff’s were considered a possible W for them having a 3-4 win season and a must for a 5 win campaign. Last night it seems the Buff’s are now considered their best bet for not going 0- 9 in the PAC.

    All of this prelude is my way of getting to the fact that this OSU squad, is ripe for the Buff’s to pick up a much needed road and PAC12 victory.

    I think our D figures out a way to slow down and minimize their running game. I have BUFF’S-34 OSU-13 OSU is not a good football team, at this juncture, and this is not a time for the Buff’s to under preform in a winnable game.

  3. I will be at this game and am glad I decided to go to it. A win, in any way, would be huge from multiple perspectives: first Pac 12 win, evens record to 4-4, gives confidence boost for remainder of season, and would be a road victory (when was the last true road game? The come from behind at Umass last season?). I don’t have raging confidence in a Buffs victory given one Pac 12 win in 3 seasons, dismal road performance, inability to close out games, blunders and mismanagement in tight situations. This one should be a tight one. No prediction on this one, just hoping for a W.

  4. Olugbode makes a huge difference becoming a tackling machine.
    Leavitt decided to risk it all and basically plays Thomspon and Moeller as linebackers daring the freshman to throw. Crowley and Awuzie have 3 interceptions (one of which is a pick 6) and we hold OSU to under 75 yards of offense in the 1st half.
    We go to the pro set almost exclusively and Lindsey runs for 190 yards in the first half. He is spelled by Carr who has another 75 with one of those on a long touchdown run. Spruce and Lee both have a long touchdown pass off of play action as well. At the half the Buffs lead 27 to 3. Final score 42 – 17. The Governor of Colorado declares it “CU is finally out of the cellar day” which eventually becomes a national banking holiday. The stock market goes up 1000 points on Monday as relieved stock traders see reason for optimism. A CU grad student is so motivated by the win they go into the lab on Sunday after the win and discover the secret to cold fusion. So no pressure or anything but a win here changes the world :).

    Go Buffs!

    1. Good stuff.
      I would just add … “The grad student parlays his cold fusion discovery into a billion dollar industry, and donates $100 million to the CU athletic department …” 😉

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