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2019 Season – Week-by-Week (Realistic) Predictions – November

2019 Season – Week-by-Week (Realistic) Predictions – September … can be found here …  

2019 Season – Week-by-Week (Realistic) Predictions – October … can be found here …  

UCLA – November 2nd – Pasadena

Optimist … Chip Kelly posted a 3-9 record in his first season at UCLA, after posting a 46-7 record as head coach at Oregon. There were great expectations and high hopes when Kelly was hired by UCLA – considered to be the best move by any team hiring a new coach in 2018. The Bruins hadn’t been bad in 2017 (6-7 after a Cactus Bowl loss to Kansas State), so the thinking was that Kelly wouldn’t have to rebuild the Bruins. Well … Not so much. UCLA lost its first five games under Chip Kelly, an opening to a season not seen at UCLA since 1943. And it’s not as if Kelly is bringing in five-star recruits. Between 2012 and 2018, UCLA averaged 10.6 four- and five-star recruits per recruiting class, never signing fewer than seven. The 2019 Class? The Bruins signed one.

Pessimist … While the Bruins got off to a slow start in 2018 (including a 38-16 September loss to CU in Boulder), there was noticeable improvement over the course of the season. Running back Joshua Kelly, who rushed for 124 yards against Colorado, was a beast in UCLA’s 34-27 win over rival USC, with 40 carries for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who was thrown into the mix as a true freshman, is expected to make great strides this fall. The Bruin defense, while horrid in 2018, was very, very young. Nine starters return, and only three are seniors. Kelly may have gotten off to a rough start at UCLA, but he is rebuilding the program for future success.

Realist … If you look at the CU Pac-12 conference home schedule – Arizona; USC; Stanford; Washington – you realize that the Buffs will likely need at least one road win to get to a bowl game. Colorado plays Oregon, Washington State and Utah – teams that went a combined 30-11 in 2018 – on the road this fall. The other two road games are against Arizona State and UCLA. The Buffs have more than held their own against the Bruins the past few seasons, and should have won the last time they played in the Rose Bowl (a frustrating 27-23 loss. Frustration which was not helped by Mike MacIntyre’s post-game comment: “Had a couple plays here or there that could have gone either way, that was the difference in the game, that’s just the way it goes sometimes”). If the Buffs are to climb out of the Pac-12 basement, some other program is going to have to become the occupant. With UCLA’s non-conference schedule including Cincinnati, San Diego State, and Oklahoma … I’m voting for UCLA.

Stanford – November 9th – Boulder

Optimist … As is the case with Oregon, the Buffs haven’t lost to the Cardinal since 2015. The last time the two teams played, in 2016, the Buffs became bowl-eligible for the first time since 2007, beating Stanford, 10-5, in Palo Alto. Last season, Stanford finished 9-4, but didn’t look particularly good in getting there. What was supposed to be a Heisman trophy season for running back Bryce Love turned into an injury-filled campaign for Love … and resulted in a Stanford rushing attack which finished 123rd in the nation. The Stanford defense, usually a dependable unit for head coach David Shaw, finished 115th in passing defense. Even more problematic for the Cardinal is that there are only eight returning starters on the whole team (three on offensive; five on defense). This ain’t the Stanford team Buff fans are used to seeing.

Pessimist … K.J. Costello may not be the second coming of Andrew Luck (and perhaps not even Kevin Hogan, for that matter), but the junior quarterback did lead the Pac-12 in passing efficiency last season, and did lead the Cardinal to four straight wins to close out the season, including a Sun Bowl win over Pitt. While Stanford has a tough non-conference schedule (Northwestern, at UCF, Notre Dame), the Cardinal doesn’t leave home the entire month of October (three home games and a bye week), and then has another bye week before coming to Boulder. David Shaw should bring a well-rested and well-prepared team to Boulder on November 9th.

Realist … I know that it’s Stanford. I know that it’s David Shaw. But Stanford isn’t the power running, stifling defense team of prior years under Shaw. Perhaps it’s evolutionary; perhaps it’s a bridge season or two while the Cardinal gets back to its normal persona. In either event, the 2019 season, with only three starters back on offense and only five on defense, shapes up to be a transition season. Stanford gets both Oregon and Washington at home this season, both in the first half of the season. If the Cardinal can beat both of their main Pac-12 North rivals, Stanford will be the division front-runner come November. If the Cardinal falls to the Ducks and Huskies, however, Stanford will be of a different mindset come their trip to Boulder. If the Mel Tucker buy-in from the players has resulted in the Buffs winning some of the 50/50 games they have lost the past two seasons, the Buff Nation could be very pleased with the results of their Homecoming (Homecoming in November?) game against Stanford.

Washington – November 23rd – Boulder

Optimist … Under Chris Petersen, Washington has gone from a team which rebuilds to one which reloads. There is no denying that the Huskies have a talented roster, but it is also true that Washington lost a great deal of talent from last year’s Pac-12 championship team. Gone is four-year starting quarterback Jake Browning, along with backfield mate Myles Gaskin. Browning’s value is up for debate, but Gaskin left as Washington’s all-time leading rusher (5,323 yards; 57 rushing touchdowns), one of only two players in NCAA history with 1,200+ yards for four seasons. Also gone are all four starters from the secondary (three taken in the NFL draft), and the national leader in tackles, linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven. Washington will be good, but still has much to prove this fall.

Pessimist … “As a program, you kind of love to have (the departure of star players) a little bit better if it’s spread out,” said Chris Petersen, “but we have through this before when some really marquee guys have moved on”. Georgia transfer quarterback Jacob Eason could be an improvement on the good-but-never-great Jake Browning, as the top three receivers from last season return. And it’s not like the Buffs have had a great deal of success against Washington, no matter who is the quarterback. Washington is 7-0 against Colorado since the Buffs joined the Pac-12 (including a 41-10 demolition in the 2016 Pac-12 championship game). In fact, the last time the Buffs beat the Huskies, CU assistant head coach Darrin Chiaverini was on the roster (a 33-21 win in the ’96 Holiday Bowl, with future Washington Husky coach Rick Neuheisel coaching the Buffs).

Realist … Can the Buffs beat the Huskies? Sure. The game is at home, and Colorado will be coming off of a bye week after the Stanford game (Washington will be coming to Boulder off of a bye week as well). Will the Buffs beat the Huskies? Probably not. What will be at stake for both teams come mid-November will be decided for both teams mid-season. In the six games leading up to the game in Boulder, Washington has USC, Oregon and Utah at home and Stanford and Arizona on the road. Colorado, meanwhile, will be coming off of a five-game stretch with road games at Oregon, Washington State and UCLA, and home games against USC and Stanford. If the Buffs are at four or five wins coming into the final games against Washington and Utah, you can expect Tucker & Co. to be pulling out all of the stops to try and get the Buffs to bowl eligibility. If Washington has already sewn up the Pac-12 North by defeating Oregon and Stanford, then maybe – just maybe – the Huskies, who have a game against Oregon State and a bye week before the CU, could be looking past Colorado, giving the Buffs a chance.

Utah – November 30th – Salt Lake City

Optimist … Last season, Utah became the last Pac-12 South team to win a division title. The Utes have had much greater success as a member of the conference than have the Buffs, but were two years behind the Buffs in claiming title No. 1. Utah is projected by the Pac-12 media to win not only the division in 2019, but the conference title as well. What does CU have going for it heading to Salt Lake City for the regular season finale? Not much. If Utah can take out USC on September 20th and Washington State on September 28th, the Utes will be the prohibitive favorite to win the division before the calendar hits October. The best hope for the Buffs? To have the finale have a great deal more meaning for the Buffs than it does the Utes.

Pessimist … There may be no better defensive line in the nation that what Utah has going for it in 2019. Star linemen Leki Foto and Bradlee Anae chose to stay in school rather than enter the NFL draft, giving what coach Kyle Whittingham a line which includes “three NFL guys, at least” (including fellow senior John Penisini). There are seven returning starters on defense, and eight on offense. The Utes embarrassed the Buffs in Boulder last November, 30-7, (without star quarterback Tyler Huntley and star running back Zack Moss in the lineup) and had little trouble taking out the Buffs (34-13) the last time the teams played in Salt Lake City.

Realist … The last two times the Buffs played the Utes, Colorado was sitting on five wins, with bowl eligibility hanging in the balance. In both games, the Mike MacIntyre Buffs not only failed to pick up victory No. 6 and bowl eligibility, the Buffs were no match for the Utes in either contest. In August, with Utah picked by the Pac-12 media to win the conference, while Colorado was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 South. As a result, there is currently little national interest in this mismatched “rivalry” game. We’ll see how the season unfolds, and what this game means to the respective teams come Thanksgiving weekend. One thing Buff fans can take some solace in, however, before the teams kickoff their seasons. The 2019 Buffs under Mel Tucker, no matter the records of the two teams coming into the game, will continue to compete to the final gun.

… Let the games begin … 

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4 Replies to “Week-by-Week (Realistic) Predictions – November”

  1. It struck me that Utah is the program that Mel is on the road to emulate. All this talk about the SEC style has one big difference. Mel’s programs at Georgia and Alabama get the pig’s share of 4 and 5 star talent. Utah has always been a program that fields consistent winners without many nationally recruited layers. They seem to have done it without a lot of flash and just tough play. If all the players have bet the farm on Mel’s fundamental tough approach and the game time chess match the coordinators do with the opposition is at least a little better than average I see plenty of winnable games. Oh yeah, one more thing. The Buffs do have some flash in the receiving corp.
    I love hearing about all the successful deep balls in practice….then again maybe we better talk about the secondary

    1. That’s the thing about scrimmages, we don’t know if we should be happy that the offense is looking better then good… or do we worry about the coverage?

      PS, we (I) need an article or post on the BEST way to watch games on-line, I cut the cable after last year and either have to get cable for about 4 months or watch on-line. Problem is (limited research so far) is with games on ESPN, Fox, CBS, ABC, CBS sports, PAC12… you get the picture. What service is going to get all the games? Or two services?

      Can I start late? Can I fast forward and rewind?

      1. I have been using Sling with the sports package which has the PAC-12 network. I have been able to see most of them for around $25.

        1. Thanks for the reply SCJBuffalo, I’ve been looking at Sling and just read a review on them. I’m probably am going to go with them too. At least I can cancel or upgrade as needed, maybe need to keep upgrade for a month, but then I can change?

          In addition to the cost, I didn’t want to have to deal with the install of the cable (again) and returning of the DVR after the season.

          I believe the first three games will be on Sling, gotta look if FOX is on the blue or orange plan, and I can upload app and sign up on Friday for the games.

          Do you know if the DVR upgrade work just like a regular one? Can I start late and fast forward through commercials and parts of half time? or are there limitations on live events?

          Thanks again for the info.

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