Colorado v. Idaho State – “T.I.P.S.” for the Buffs’ Home Opener

Can you remember the last time Colorado was a 38-point favorite?

Sure you can.

It was last September, when the Buffs opened as a 50-point favorite over Nicholls. By the end of the week, the line dropped to 45 points … a good thing for those who waited to bet on the Buffs.

The result of the contest? Colorado 48, Nicholls 0.

Last September, Colorado, fresh off of a 27-24 overtime win over Colorado State, posted 636 yards of total offense against Nicholls while holding the Colonels to 166 yards. The shutout for the Buffs was the first for the program since 2009, with Phillip Lindsay going for 113 rushing yards, with Donovan Lee posting 103 (on only ten carries).

Look for more of the same this Saturday (3:30 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Networks) against the Bengals.

This one could – should – be over early, allowing Buff fans to bask in the sun, check their phones for updates of other games, and/or make frequent trips to the beer garden.

Yes, Virginia, there are the Eastern Washington’s and Northern Iowa’s of the college football world (and, for Virginia, there are the Richmond’s of the world), FCS teams which have enough quality players that they can stay with – and beat – Power-Five conference schools.

Idaho State ain’t one of those schools …

 

T – Talent 

If we must …

Quarterback Tanner Gueller will be making his fourth career start this upcoming weekend in Boulder. Gueller opened the 2016 season with a decent performance against Division II Simon Fraser, going 24-for-36 for 338 yards and three touchdowns.

Good numbers, but this was against a Clansman team (yes, that is the nickname for Simon Fraser) which hasn’t won a game in almost two years (since you asked, it was an October, 2014, thriller over South Dakota School of Mines). Simon Fraser’s closest brush with victory in 2015 came in a disappointing 38-35 loss … to Dixie State.

At Tuesday’s press conference, CU head coach Mike MacIntyre put the best spin on the Bengals as he could.

“Their offense is just like Hawai’i’s was last year that gave us problems,” said MacIntyre. “They run a 4-3 defense. We’ll have to get ready for that. They have wide ends like Oregon State used to do, so that will affect our tackles on pass protection. We’re going to have to do well there. They’re playing well; their punt returner is back and have some good players that have been making a lot of plays. They killed the team they played the other day, Simon Fraser. They’re a good football team that will come in here ready to beat us.”

Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie chimed in: “We’ve watched a lot of film already, and they’ve got two pretty good outside receivers and a pretty good tight end,” said Awuzie.  “Their running back is pretty fast, and I think their quarterback got second team all-conference.  They’re a pretty well developed offense, so it’ll come down to us playing our game and doing what we do best.”

I like the Buffs’ chances of doing just that …

 

I – Intangibles

Both teams have been in similar positions in the past twelve months to what they are facing this Saturday.

Last year, Colorado was able to return to Boulder after defeating CSU in Denver and take on an FCS school which was in the bottom half of its conference.  The result: the 48-0 shutout of Nicholls.

Last year, Idaho State was able to open the season with a convincing win over a lesser opponent (a 55-0 win over Black Hills State), only to be brought back to reality before September was out (a 52-0 loss to Boise State followed by an 80-8 loss to UNLV).

Then there is (pleasant) reality that this year’s Buff team seems to be very focused, and isn’t about to let one good game get into their heads. “We don’t want to give any games away, we don’t want to have any close games if possible,” said quarterback Sefo Liufau. “So, we treat Idaho State with the greatest respect. They’re a great team and anything can happen in any given week in college football so we want to come out strong and put our best foot forward.”

If you are looking for a small kernel of hope for the Bengals, look to their head coach. Mike Kramer is no stranger to Folsom Field … he was on the opposing sideline in 2006 when Montana State shocked Colorado, 19-10, in Dan Hawkins’ debut as the Colorado head coach.

“We’ve already shown them that game and some highlights of it,” said MacIntyre of the mind-numbing loss to the Bobcats. “He’s a heck of a coach; he’s won everywhere he’s been. He’s not afraid of coming in here, I know that.”

Nice coach-speak, but I’m not buying.

If anything … having Mike Kramer on the opposing sideline will only help to keep the CU coaches and players focused on the task at hand.

 

P – Preparation/Schedule

The 47-3 opening win against Simon Fraser was a good confidence builder for the Idaho State. The Bengals came into the 2016 season on a five-game losing streak, finishing last year’s campaign with a 2-9 overall record (with the wins coming over North Dakota and Black Hills State).

Now the Bengals have to go on the road to take on the Buffs and the Oregon State Beavers in successive weeks.

Ouch.

The beatdowns by Boise State and UNLV suffered last September … by a combined score of 132-8 … have to be in the minds of the Idaho State players.

Meanwhile, Colorado has a challenge of its own this week … trying not to look past the Bengals. With the Buffs’ first mention in national polls since 2008, it would be human nature for the Colorado players (and coaches) to be looking past Idaho State and dreaming of a signature win in Ann Arbor next weekend.

With a national “respect” game looming, it would be understandable if the Buffs started out slow against the Bengals, and only got their act together later in the first half (or even after halftime).

I don’t think so.

I think these Buffs are determined to show that their dominant first quarter against the Rams was not a fluke, and will come out with fire in their eyes against the Bengals.

 

S – Statistics 

I have to say, as a stats geek, I’ve been waiting a long time for this.

Yes, it was only the first game of the season.

Yes, it was “only” Colorado State.

But, it’s been awhile since Colorado has had such a dominating performance against a team which has gone bowling the previous season.

Some numbers after Week One:

— Total offense: 578 yards – 16th in the nation. The last time CU finished in the top 20: 1999;

— Total defense: 225 yards – 22nd in the nation. The last time CU finished in the top 25: 1998;

— Scoring offense: 44.0 ppg. – 41st in the nation. The last time CU finished in the top 50: 2001;

— Scoring defense: 7.0 ppg. – 15th in the nation. The last time CU finished in the top 20: 1991.

… and those numbers are likely to get even better next week after the Idaho State game …

Reality will kick by the end of September … We have to wait and see how the Buffs’ numbers look after the Michigan and Oregon games.

But, at least for now, it’s looking like it’s going to be a very good year for stats from the University of Colorado football team.

 

Prediction … Three FCS teams (Richmond, Northern Iowa and Eastern Washington) beat three Power-Five conference teams (Virginia, Iowa State, and Washington State) in the opening weekend of the 2016 college football season.

Colorado in its history is only 4-2 against FCS teams, losing to two Big Sky conference teams, Montana State and Sacramento State.

So, it is possible that Colorado could lose to Idaho State … but very unlikely.

The only two real issues for the Buffs and the Buff Nation this Saturday: 1) will Colorado beat the 38-point spread?; and 2) will Colorado emerge from the game without any serious injuries?

The second question is out of the Buffs’ control … the first is very much under their control.

I foresee a dominating win, but it’s hard to ever pick a team to win by 38 points.

Okay, maybe this time

… Colorado 49, Idaho State 7 …

 

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21 Replies to “Idaho State – A Preview”

  1. Great stuff as usual Stuart!

    There is no reason Sefo should take a snap in the 2nd half because the Buffs should be up big Hopefully at halftime the coaches will take away Sefo’s helmet and give Montez the majority of the snaps in the 2nd half.

    CU 56 ISU 17

    GO BUFFS!

  2. Stuart, do you know where one can get complete stats on games ?…. by complete, I mean # of snaps played, etc. I think you understand what I’m wanting.

    I did not find this on CU Buffs’ site, ESPN or the Buff Zone….. perhaps I’m just not selecting the correct link.

    Thanks.

  3. Yo Stuart,

    Nice write up as usual. I addressed an open letter to AD Rick George on my site suggesting that both Sefo and Mac sit out the first half against Idaho State. For the last two years, both have refused to give meaningful reps to the backup QB. Sefo has tizzy fits on the sideline and throws his helmet when they want to take him out of games, and Mac continues to kowtow to his behavior.

    The result? When Sefo has gone down, the main backups (Gehrke in 2014 and Apsay in 2015) were thrown to the wolves being forced to come in against Pac-12 competition with no game reps under their belts. Montez needs to work with the first string in a sure win in case he is needed later.

    Sorry to put a damper on the euphoria, but I’m thinking about the long term health of the QB position this year and in years to come.

    Go Buffs.
    Mark
    Boulderdevil

  4. Injury prevention is somewhat under our control, at least to starters. If we get up by 35, I would like Sefo to be out of the game. Give Montez a chance to get game reps in. Sefo was kept in way too long last week.

  5. 70-3. (Gherke gets his game to go out on, and the Buffs tack on another 21 in the 4th when Montez comes in).

    Naturally, I was cautiously hoping for excellence in their first game, after getting to the point I was pissing offseason cool-aid. I placed my first ever bet though. I was rewarded with the eye opening 44-7 drubbing of Colorado St. I can’t chase away the seemingly ludicrous hope that this might be one of those cinderella teams that captures the nation’s attention this Fall.
    I think that If they stay healthy, they finish top 25. If not, they still get their first bowl invite in ten years. My out there prediction: CU edges UCLA to win the PAC12 South, loses to Stanford (behind Heisman winner McCaffrey, a CO product), and wins a fairly decent bowl game. Now, if they beat Michigan in two weeks, the stars will be aligning, they’ll win the national championship, and Ghandi will rise and bring love and tolerance to the world. Hey, a guy can hope.

      1. Eric, apparently, like you must have been, I was not all that impressed with Stanford last week, however one has to remember they have a game breaker only one snap away and it might be the next time he touches the ball.

        Given that, if CU can contain McCaffery reasonably well, I think the Buffs have a shot…… but let’s not let Kool-aid colored glasses get ahead of ourselves. Containing McCaffrey is a little like herding a dozen cats…. you don’t have the slightest idea when he will break away from the herd with a game-deciding run.

        Best we try taking care of the things we can control like the next game, more specifically, the next play. Do that and we may have a shot at the PAC-12 South.

  6. hopefully the backups get alot of time playing. that said hopefully the starters get the game under control and we get to see the new kids play some. Dont care what the score is as long as it is a win

  7. Always enjoy your T.I.P.S. section Stuart. I thought that your 2 questions in the Prediction segment, was a perfect summation for this game. Injuries are always a concern in a game like this as Boise State lost their starting QB, for the year, in their 52 – 0 rout of ISU last year.

    I think the Buff’s will be up 38 to zip by halftime and close it out with a 27 to 3 differential in the second half.

    That makes it CU 65 – ISU 3 for the game.

  8. 41st in the country in scoring offense? Wow – I didn’t know there were 40 teams who scored more than the 44 points the Buffs put up! I’m wondering if the NCAA has that stat correct?

    1. Yeah, I had the same reaction…and then my second thought was that there must be a lot of teams taking on a lot of creampuffs to start the season.

  9. Lets just hope it is an injury free weekend. I too am confident of a convincing win, just not so sure that “knock on wood”, nothing bad will happen. Hope I am wrong and plenty of starters are riding the pine early. No need for any non-kicking players to leave the field with a clean uniform.

  10. Stuart
    you laid out the facts, history and reality in fine fashion. Even so I am on the of my seat in spite of the tomato can. The game against the lambs only exorcised the slow start ghost. The FCS ghost wont go away for me until the game is over in a CU win. The third, maybe not a ghost but hurdle, I want the Buffs to clear is that significant road win. I think Michigan is overrated and the Buffs have the talent and moxie to stay with them in a neutral site but the big house maybe a little too much to overcome. If, in my wildest dreams, the Buffs do make 102,000 maize and blue fans soil their pants it is a good thing MI is ranked 5th. Thanks to Kordell maybe we are Michigan’s ghost

    1. EP, I’ll be the guy saying our Buffs have more than a puncher’s chance in the little big house.

      That’s going to be a fun game. I’m hoping for an over/under of 3, for times the Khaki Assassin throws his headset. If it’s more than once? CU’s doing things right.

      If it’s three or more? They’re killing.

      Go Buffs.

  11. Nice write up Stuart, and as always thank you for all you do.

    I agree with your assertion that our Buffs will not dilly-dally with this or any other game this season. They seem to be on a mission, and I like what I am hearing (and seeing!).

    I will be at Folsom cheering them on this week. My prediction:
    CU 59, ISU 6

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