Colorado at No. 4 Michigan – “T.I.P.S” for the Buffs’ trip to the Big House

Should the Buff Nation be happy about Colorado heading to Ann Arbor to play No. 4 Michigan before a crowd of over 100,000 maize-and-blue faithful?

Glass half empty … Colorado is taking on one of the top teams in the country, on the road, just when the program was gaining some momentum. A thumping by the Wolverines could set the program back, sending the Buffs into Pac-12 play on a down note. The $1.4 million paycheck just isn’t worth the overall cost to the 2016 season.

Glass half full … The Buffs are heading to Michigan with confidence, and have absolutely nothing to lose. It’s a great opportunity to show the nation that the #TheRiseIsReal.

Whether we like it or not, come 1:30 p.m., MT, Saturday (Big Ten Networks), Colorado will try to defeat a top five team on the road for the first time since 1994 (yes, it’s true. The last time the Buffs beat a top five team on the road was when No. 7 Colorado took down No. 4 Michigan, 27-26).

Would make a nice set of bookend of victories, wouldn’t it?

Here are this week’s “T.I.P.S.” for the Buffs’ trip to the Big House …

 

T – Talent

Colorado is a 19.5-point underdog to Michigan. As bad as that sounds, it’s not as bad as the spreads the Wolverines had over Hawai’i and Central Florida, as the Wolverines were five touchdown favorites for both games.

Michigan dispatched Hawai’i, 63-3, and Central Florida, 51-14, with ease. The 114 points were the most for the Wolverines in the opening two games of the season … since 1914.

Much of the production can be attributed to the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player-of-the-Week, quarterback Wilton Speight. The redshirt sophomore looked as sharp last Saturday against Central Florida as he did in the season-opening win over Hawaii. Speight lasted into the fourth quarter, finishing with impressive stats in his second start: 25-for-37 passing for 312 yards and four touchdowns.

Speight completed passes of 35, 32 and 45 yards on Michigan’s first three scoring drives to open up a comfortable lead against UCF.

If there was a criticism of the offensive production, it was that Michigan only rushed for 119 yards on 41 carries It was a major drop-off from the Hawai’i game, where the Wolverines dominated with 306 rushing yards on 39 carries.

“Sometimes they can take something away, a defense can do that and then you go to the (other option),” Harbaugh said on the “Inside Michigan Football” television show. “That’s why in baseball sometimes they throw a fastball, sometimes they throw a curve. Sometimes you hand it off and sometimes you fake the handoff and throw it over their heads and I think we took advantage of that.”

Many of Michigan’s offensive numbers are just as impressive as those of Colorado, with the Wolverines coming into the contest 5th in the nation in scoring offense, at 57.0 points per game.

A bigger problem than stopping an offense averaging eight touchdowns per game?

A defense which is better than its offense.

While there were question marks heading into the season about the Michigan offense, no one questioned that the defense would be stout.

Last season, Michigan was fourth in the nation in total defense, and sixth in the nation in scoring defense. The Wolverines bring back most of its impact players, and have added the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation from this past February, defensive lineman Rashan Gary.

Oh, and the special teams are great, too.

Last week, the Wolverines blocked two Central Florida punts and two field goal attempts … in the first half.

“I feel very confident in our protection,” Mike MacIntyre said. “(Michigan) did a good job of attacking. I feel good about our protection and we’ll see when we get out there.”

So, to sum up … there are three good reasons why Michigan is ranked the No. 4 team in the nation:

Offense … Defense … and Special Teams.

 

I – Intangibles

Both teams have enjoyed ridiculous amounts of success in the first two weeks of the season.

Pick a category, and both teams have been dominant.

Colorado leads the nation in total defense, is seventh in total offense and sixth in scoring defense.

Michigan is fifth in scoring offense, ninth in scoring defense, and is third in the nation in third down conversion defense (allowing a microscopic 12% conversion rate).

Colorado has out-scored its first two opponents in the first half by a total score of 80-0.

Michigan has out-scored its first two opponents in the first half by a total score of 69-7.

Suffice it to say that this weekend one – or both – of these teams will struggle more than they have the first two weeks. The pundits believe it will be Colorado which will struggle the most, with ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Michigan a 90% chance of winning (actually down from 95% this time last week).

Here’s the thing … this is situation normal (or, at least as expected) this season for the Wolverines.

For the Buffs, however, this is uncharted waters.

How will the Buffs react to the inevitable adversity Saturday afternoon?

I’ll let senior safety Tedric Thompson speak for the team:

“Each week is a different challenge. Obviously going against a great team like this is a different challenge but we’re ready for it,” said Thompson at Tuesday’s press conference. “I think the entire team, as long as we keep focusing on ourselves and practicing for each other and playing for each other and loving each other, we’ll be great. We’re ready for every challenge. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against. We always have the mindset that we’re going to come out with the win. I feel like that’s how the rest of the season is going to be. We’re ready for every little moment. Since I’ve been here, we’ve been through a lot. I’ve played in double overtimes, I’ve been hurt. A lot of players who have been here with Coach MacIntyre for all four years, we’ve been through a lot with him so that’s why I feel like we’re ready for any challenge.””

Adversity is no stranger to the Buffs.

So, the real question is: How will the Wolverines react to adversity if (when) it comes on Saturday?

Colorado has nothing to lose, and has been looking forward to this game as a chance to make a national statement.

Michigan just wants to get through Saturday and move on to the next victim.

Mental advantage?

Colorado.

 

P – Preparation / Schedule

The Michigan faithful were expecting an unobstructed run into October. The Wolverines only leave the state of Michigan once before November … and that is to take on Big Ten bottom-feeder Rutgers. Michigan’s schedule is back-loaded, with road games at No. 12 Michigan State (10/29), No. 13 Iowa (11/12), and No. 3 Ohio State (11/26) likely to decide Michigan’s bowl fate.

Colorado was supposed to be just another easy hurdle as Michigan eased through September.

Now? Not so much.

Colorado, meanwhile, has already faced – and overcome – a tough game. True enough, Colorado State may prove to be a weak Mountain West team, but that was not a given when the Rocky Mountain Showdown kicked off.

What did the Buffs do with a “must-win” pressure game?

They came out with purpose and focus, and dominated from the opening gun.

Playing out-manned Hawai’i and Central Florida teams, there was no real mystery about the outcome of the Wolverines’ first two games. Michigan has yet to face a challenge in 2016.

The Buffs were not supposed to give be the Wolverines first test. At home next week against Penn State (which lost to Pitt last weekend)? Not really. Wisconsin (which will be coming to Ann Arbor in two weeks)? Perhaps.

Colorado … an after thought. Just the most respectable of a trio of non-conference patsies.

I’m not saying the the Buffs will “sneak up” on the Wolverines … but I am saying that just three weeks ago this game was not on Michigan’s radar.

 

S – Statistics

This just in … Colorado is not going to finish the 2016 season ranked No. 1 in total defense.

This could be a great season for Jim Leavitt’s charges, but going from 85th to 1st in one season isn’t going to happen.

But, for just one more week, let’s enjoy some of these numbers:

Rushing offense – 20th … last season: 86th

Passing offense – 17th … last season: 49th

Total offense – 7th … last season: 67th

Scoring offense – 11th … last season: 97th

Rushing defense – 30th … last season: 99th

Passing defense – 2nd … last season: 59th

Total defense – 1st … last season: 85th

Scoring defense – 6th … last season: 70th

It’s just so nice to be back in the national discussion. We’ll see, now that the schedule has grown significantly more difficult, how the Buffs fare.

 

Prediction …

Some sobering numbers:

— Colorado has lost 22 straight games to ranked teams (last win: 2009 v. No. 17 Kansas);

— Colorado has lost all 11 games it has played against ranked teams under Mike MacIntyre (including his stint at San Jose State, MacIntyre is 0-18 against ranked teams);

— Colorado last defeated a top five team in 2007 (No. 3 Oklahoma, 27-24);

— Colorado hasn’t defeated a top five team on the road since the 1994 “Miracle in Michigan”.

Think about that last one for a bit.

Since 1994, Colorado has had four ten-win teams, four Big 12 North division winners, and a Big 12 championship.

None of those teams defeated a top five team on the road.

Perhaps Michigan is not truly a top ten team. Perhaps the Buffs will expose weaknesses in the Wolverine juggernaut.

Perhaps.

Colorado has taken its fans on a great ride the first two weeks of the season. The Buffs have us dreaming again about bowl games and competing for championships.

I do believe the Buffs will defeat a ranked team this season … just not this week.

No. 4 Michigan 27, Colorado 13

 

the-rise-is-coming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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27 Replies to “No. 4 Michigan – A Preview”

  1. Okay VK, where the hell are you with all your sharp critiques and sage advice? Are you deeply entrenched in your office trading on the NEKKEI, CAC, DAX or FTSE ?

    We worry about ya, ya know….. hoping you’re on a plane to Ann Arbor and not laid up in a hospital.

    I’ll have to say it for ya. Go Buffs. Kick some Wollerines arse !

  2. Certainly not in the demeanor of a great man…… but as honorary captain, Coach Mac could punch Brady in the face at the coin flip.

    That would set set the tone. 🙂

  3. Yo Stuart,
    Nobody here in Ann Arbor gives the Buffs any respect. A bar we were in tonight had a board announcing the game as being between the Michigan Wolverines and Colorado University and their mascot Milo the Lynx! I made them change it and asked where I could buy a Miracle at Michigan hat? The young guys working there had no idea what I was talking about.

    Go Buffs! Do it one more time!

    Mark
    Boulderdevil

  4. Just the fact that we are entertaining the possibility of a win is amazing. Good on everyone that is part of the team.

    Shoulder to Shoulder.

  5. We are finally going to find out how good this team really is on Saturday. Heck we could say the same for Michigan as they destroyed the first two teams they played as well which are not juggernaut teams. I would give Michigan the edge I believe them to be the better team and playing at home. But being better doesn’t always translate to a victory. I remember a Saturday in September of 2007 when the BUFFS were able to defeat a then #3 Oklahoma team that CU wasn’t supposed to have a snowballs chance. Maybe this is the year of the upsets and Cu are in line to hand out the next one. I am going with the BUFFs in this one. CU 27 MICHIGAN 26 GO BUFFS !!!!!

  6. Last time we beat Michigan in Michigan, we were a ranked team, too. We have a shot, but it is exceedingly slim, and we will need the D to come up with a huge game and turnovers. Can’t drop the picks we’ve been dropping. If we hold Michigan to 28 or under and win the turnover battle by 2+, we can get this game. That’s a tall order, but…GO BUFFS!!!!

  7. I believe that CU has a legitimate shot at this game. Last year we would have been blown out. But this year is different. Last year we lost to a bad Hawaii team, squeezed by a decent CSU team and did ok against UMASS. This year we crushed CSU and ISU and I firmly believe this team would have destroyed the three teams from last year as well. The differences are subtle but massively important and come down to execution. The buffs are executing extremely well right now. They know heir assignments and they are using the right techniques to beat the guy across from them. It is night and day watching the details from last year to this year. I have heard about a switch going on for a team like this but I personally had never witnessed it like we are now. These players get it and they are executing at a level I have not seen at CU in a long time. The fact that the opponents get a lot better will not change the execution, it will change the success rate even when you are executing well but it doesn’t change the fact that a team executing like the buffs are will have success against any level of competition. In this regard I believe the buffs are on an equal footing with Michigan who is also executing well.

    In actual X’s and O’s Michigan is going to be tough. But I think there are weaknesses CU can exploit. I watched the UCF game and it appears that UM has a hole in their defense to the outside. Their db’s cannot seem to get off blocks and so pitches and wide receiver screens put the safety one on one with the Rb or wr with the ball often 7-8 yards down the field. If CU is able to exploit this then UM will have to respond by bringing the safety down and out. This should provide a hole in the defense in the middle of the field for deep passes. I do not think CU is going to have great success running up the middle and I would be real careful having Sefo run the ball as much as he has. There may be some good counter runs off tackle though as I think their tackles may get up field too much relying on the linebacker to make the tackle. Peppers is no joke but you can run away from him.

    On defense, I was surprised that UCF was able to shut down their run game so effectively. UM says this opened the passing game. I think we could crowd the line like UCF did and rely on the fact that we have great Db’s to cover.

    The team that runs better will win his game.

    1. I have been screaming at the TV and in the stands for four years: Toss sweep, Power I off tackle, counter trey, QB waggle.This would be the game they can show they heard me.

      Lindsay in space with a blocker….
      Lee on a quick toss……
      Sefo boot with a waggle guard to the wide side of the field….
      Frazier on a wheel rout….

      we can be the quicker, smarter more disciplined team this week.

      Do not:
      rely on inside handoffs, qb draws, shotgun draws and for heavens sake, throw the jet sweep out of the playbook ! hasnt worked in four years

      Go Buffs. Time to step up

  8. Another great TIPS preview from Stuart…is it Saturday yet?!?

    I think this team is the best we’ve seen in years; however, playing in the Big House will be a challenge. I don’t think the Buffs win, but do believe the score will be closer than the boys in the desert predict; Michigan 35 – CU 24.

    Like several others I think the Buffs have a great chance at a “signature win” next week at Eugene!

    GO BUFFS!

  9. Buffs 35 Woollyrenes 21

    They’ll try and go deep a few times. Tedrick, Chido, or one of the other DBs will get at least one pic.

    The Buffs ground game will get some traction, and the passing game will continue to progress.

    Harbaugh will throw his headset at least twice.

    Go Buffs!

  10. IF, Tedric Thompson is a reflection of where the Buff’s are now at mentally, then Saturday’s game is going to be what college football is all about !!

    I think the score will be Michigan 24 – COLORADO 17 …….. but, I would gladly take the same score and flip the teams for another Miracle in Michigan.

    Stuart, from a mental standpoint (even if we win this, one) I think that a win next week, on the road in Eugene, will be the SIGNATURE WIN the Buff’s need to get the say, COLORADO FOOTBALL “one of the PAC 12’s BEST teams”.

      1. I saw the 1967 CU – Oregon game in Eugene ( I had just been hired as a project Mgr. @ Precision CastParts in Portland ) was there with a friend, we were in full CU garb including signs, worst treatment I have ever had as a visiting Fan for any type of event. In all my years living on the West Coast, since leaving Colorado; going to anything or supporting anything even remotely connected to UO athletics, has been forbidden in Our Household. So maybe it is time to once again attend a beatdown of the boys in the Quack House. I don’t remember the 67′ score but, IT was a CU W !!!!

        1. 1967 holy windmill hole.

          You may be older than AZ but I doubt it.

          I was just heading out to the Nam.

          Dang nab it I am greedy.

          I want em both…..The “Woolyirenes” and the the “decoys” Down go those pretenders.

          Buffalo Up.

          Note: And all you going up to “Annie arbaugh” be on the lookout for their favorite past-time….

          GBP………………..Group Booger Picking…

  11. Amother nice TIPS article. I’m looking forward to being in the stands this weekend. I feel the Buffs will have a respectable performance and beat the spread. Prediction: Michigan 31 CU 17. Go Buffs!!!

  12. Yo Stuart,

    I believe the Buffs will surprise the Michigan team and their fans and the national media. Central Florida this year is like Colorado was in 2012. They will give up a lot of points to whoever they play. Colorado State is the best team that either CU or Michigan has played. They are a bowl team three years straight. I find it rather ironic that Buff fans wring their hands every year about playing CSU, and then are completely dismissive of the Rams if Colorado wins.

    Because the Big House is such a tough place to play, the best thing CU has going for it is that neither Michigan nor their fans believe Colorado is any better than their first two opponents. They will find out shortly after the game starts that Colorado is a good football team.

    Leavitt’s defense is gonna hit hard. And if the play-calling speed continues to keep the defense on their heels, the Buffs have a real chance of putting a scare into the Wolverine nation and even pulling off the upset. Nobody across the country will see it coming.

    Or, the Buffs will pull another ASU-type meltdown and find themselves down by four touchdowns or more by the middle of the 3rd quarter. We’ll know early whether the Buffs really came to play with the idea of winning or just to pick-up a paycheck.

    I will enjoy the game from the stands either way, but it sure would be nice to see our Buffs make a game of it.

    Mark
    Boulderdevil

    1. Good point on the play calling speed. When UCF was able to move quickly Michigan struggled to keep up and UCF was not moving anywhere close to the speed I have seen CU move at this year.

      1. God, wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing? To see those iconic UM helmets scurrying around the field, scrambling to get set between those fast snap counts CU runs now? I’m not saying I expect this, but it would be a huge positive indicator to see Michigan’s very talented defense getting caught out of position by the hurry-up offense…

  13. Sounds like we are going to find out how good our defensive backs really are. I don’t see us winning this game but I would like to see us put up a fight. Being an overwhelming underdog sucks. But as Berman says ” That’s why they play the game”. Come Saturday only the strong of heart need to show up or watch the game one way or the other we are either going to get thumped or it will go down to the last minute.

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