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

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

Arizona – October 5th – Boulder

Optimist … Arizona quarterback Kahlil Tate has made a career out of embarrassing the Colorado defense. In his introduction to the college football world in 2017, Tate came off the bench to set an FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback, going for 327 yards and four touchdowns (on only 14 carries), leading Arizona to a 45-42 victory in Boulder. Last season, Tate torched the Buff secondary for 350 yards and five touchdowns through the air, leading the Wildcats to a 42-34 win over the Buffs in Tucson. The reason for optimism? Despite giving up two career games to Tate the past two seasons, the Buffs were in both games. This just in … the CU defense under Mel Tucker isn’t going to give up a career day to Kahlil Tate.

Pessimist … Once upon a time, Colorado held a 12-0 lead in its series against Arizona. Since joining the Pac-12, however, the Wildcats have won six of eight, including the aforementioned back-to-back wins the past two seasons. It’s been frustrating loss after frustrating loss for the Buffs in this series … and the schedule sets up well for Arizona against Colorado this fall. The Wildcats have four very winnable games before facing the Buffs (at Hawai’i, then Northern Arizona, Texas Tech, UCLA … all at home), not to mention two (yes, two) bye weeks in September. Arizona could well come to Boulder with a well-rested 4-0 team riding some real momentum.

Realist … Colorado and Arizona both finished 5-7 last season. Both teams had some good wins (CU: Nebraska; Arizona State … Arizona: Oregon; Cal) and some embarrassing losses (CU: Oregon State; Cal … Arizona: Washington State [69-28]; Houston [45-18]).  Yet the Wildcats are given the benefits of several doubts when it comes to Year Two under Kevin Sumlin. Yes, Kahlil Tate has had better games than has Steven Montez, and Tate has owned the Buffs. But Arizona is bringing in a defense which was 121st in passing yards allowed last season, and gave up 343 yards passing to Steven Montez last year … in Tucson … without Laviska Shenault in the lineup. The Buffs will have a bye week of their own to prepare for the Wildcats – I like the Buffs’ chances.

Oregon – October 11th (Friday) – Eugene – 8:00 p.m., MT, FS1

Optimist … Let’s see …

  • The Buffs haven’t lost to the Ducks since 2015;
  • Steven Montez made his starting debut as a CU quarterback in leading the Buffs to a 41-38 victory in Eugene in 2016; so he will have fond memories and a positive psyche walking into Autzen;
  • The Buffs face the Ducks on a Friday night, which will reduce the size of the crowd, with Duck fans who live in Portland not willing to make the two hour drive through heavy traffic to take in a “gimme” game; and
  • The Ducks have their showdown against Washington the following Saturday in Seattle, taking their focus away from their game against Colorado.

That’s about it.

Pessimist … Oregon has the best offensive lines in the Pac-12, if not the nation. Three of the lineman are four-year starters, and two of them – Calvin Throckmorton and Shane Lemieux – are second-team All-Americans … and that doesn’t bode well for CU’s thin and inexperienced defensive front. The Duck offensive line will be blocking for the potential No. 1 overall draft pick, quarterback Justin Herbert, who returned for his senior year to lead the Ducks to a Pac-12 title. Counting two senior linemen and a junior wide receiver who are returning from injuries, the Ducks have 12 – count ’em, 12 – returning starters on offense. How will the Buffs be able to keep up with that much firepower?

Realist … No one gave the Buffs a chance at beating the Ducks when Colorado traveled to Eugene in 2016. Yes, the Buffs had played well against Michigan the week before, but starting quarterback Sefo Liufau was injured, and the Buffs were heading into the lion’s den (duck’s nest?) with a red-shirt freshman at quarterback. The 2019 Buffs may actually have talent comparable in many positions to the 2016 team, but … the 2019 Buffs will not be facing the 2016 Ducks. That year, Oregon stumbled to a 4-8 finish. This year, the Ducks are going to be ranked to open the season, and, if they can beat Auburn in the season opener, could be a top ten team when the Buffs come to town.

There are only a few games on CU’s schedule which appear during the dog days of Fall Camp to be sure wins on the 2019 schedule (CSU; Air Force). There are also only a few games on CU’s schedule which appear in August to be sure losses … and the Oregon game is one of them.

Washington State – October 19th – Pullman

Optimist … Can Mike Leach get his magic to work yet again? The Gardner Minshew graduate transfer experiment paid off in style last season, with a 4,779-yard, 38-touchdown (with only nine interceptions), 11-2 season being the result. Now it’s Gage Gubrud’s turn. Gubrud is a former FCS All-American at Eastern Washington, but it’s too much for Washington State to strike transfer gold again. We’ll certainly know by mid-October, as the CU/Washington State game in Pullman will represent the Cougars’ one home game in seven weeks (covering four road games, two bye weeks, and the CU game). The Cougars have been riding high for some time now under Mike Leach, but the 2019 season may be a regression to the mean.

Pessimist … Washington State has won 37 games in the past four seasons (CU has won 24). You don’t do that with just a smoke-and-mirrors offense. What the Cougars have done, with hardly anyone looking, is built a solid defensive team. Guru Alex Grinch moved on to Ohio State last season (and to Oklahoma this season), but the Cougar defense carried on, with a squad which ranked in the top half of the Pac-12 in almost every defensive statistical category. Colorado has an abysmal record in back-to-back road games in Pac-12 play, and this will be a trip to Pullman after a trip to Eugene. It’s not hard to see the Cougars being a double-digit favorite for this game.

Realist … The last two times Colorado has made the pilgrimage to the Palouse, the Buffs have made the Cougars’ defense look like the ’85 Bears, falling 27-3 in 2015, and then 28-0 in 2017. To make matters worse, it was a 31-7 embarrassment in Boulder last season (that’s a combined score of 86-10, folks). Believe it or not, there was once a time when Colorado had Mike Leach’s number (Leach is 4-5 against CU as a coach, including two losses as the head coach at Texas Tech, and one as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma), but Leach … especially Leach’s defenses … have figured out the Buffs. We’ll see in Mel Tucker’s and Jay Johnson’s offense can turn the series around.

USC – Friday, October 25th – Boulder – 7:00 p.m., MT, ESPN2

Optimist … Fate. Destiny. Karma. As Buff fans well know (and if they don’t, the ESPN commentators will surely remind them), Colorado is 0-13 all-time against USC. What will make the difference in 2019? (other than the fact that Clay Helton, if not already fired by late October, may well be on his way out). The date of the game: October 25th. If the game hadn’t been moved off of the Saturday calendar, the game would have been played this year on October 26th. Instead, the game is on the 25th … the 33rd anniversary of the 20-10 win over Nebraska, when the Buffs broke an 18-game losing streak to the Cornhuskers. The stars? They are aligned, my friends.

Pessimist … Did I mention the fact that Colorado is 0-13 all-time against USC? Whoever is coaching the Trojans, they will always field a team with more talent than any other team in the conference. While the Kliff Kingsbury as offensive coordinator plan lasted only a month, the “Air Raid” offense is still coming to USC, with Graham Harrell as the puppet master. “The talent’s there,” Harrell said. “Just got to get them excited about what we’re doing and put those guys in position to be successful”. Since CU joined the Pac-12, it’s been an 8-0 run by the Trojans, by an average score of 39-21. In fact, the Buffs have only been within a score of the Trojans twice in that run, falling 27-24 in 2015, and 21-17 in 2016. Some teams just have other teams numbers, and USC has CU’s number.

Realist … This may actually be CU’s year. By late October, a great deal is going to be learned about the Buffs in their first year under Mel Tucker. We will also know a great deal more about the Trojans. It was a surprise to many that Clay Helton was retained after USC finished 5-7 last year. It will be a surprise to many if Helton makes it through the 2019 season. USC’s schedule is brutal. The ramp up to the game in Boulder? Fresno State; Stanford; at BYU; Utah; at Washington; at Notre Dame; Arizona (and, just for fun, the Trojans play Oregon the week after they play the Buffs). Helton may not even make it to Boulder, but, even if he does, he may likely be coaching a .500 team, and be on the hottest of seats. A loss to CU may be the final nail in Helton’s coffin … and the start of a new era for Colorado football.

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

Coming Sunday: 2019 Season – Week-by-Week (Realistic) Predictions – November


2 Replies to “Week-By-Week (Realistic) Predictions – October”

  1. Give me a win over the Huskers, a 3-0 start, our first win over SC, and a consistently competitive team and I’ll have a very happy season.

    And Stuart – thank you as always for the daily reading content on the Buffs. Without you it would be a news wasteland for Buff Fans.

  2. predictions schmedictions. Thank god we only have 2 more weeks of schmedictions before we have some games under our belt to actually give further predictions some foundation. Everyone including the mouse in their pocket says the Oregon game is a sure loss. I hope the Buffs win that one almost more than the cob game just so it can be shoved down the “sure loss” throats.
    One thing I feel sure of is that the Buffs will more improved than from last year’s debacle than any other team in the conference simply from a coaching standpoint.
    The MM Einstein theory of insanity offense is gone and hopefully the Mel tough and conditioned approach will win more close and road games. It was embarrassing to see us out hustled in the 4th qtr last year when we train at altitude. Of course that may have been a “what difference does it make” attitude instead derived from a lack of imagination and leadership from the coaching staff.
    UCLA will most likely be improved because it will their esteemed coach’s second year with his system and and at least the same QB as last year. Hard to figure Cal’s offense will be as bad as last year. ….and so on.
    I also get tired of the overrated ol cliche that it takes a while to learn the system. I appreciate the fact Mel has emphasized conditioning and toughness over “learning the system.” Having said that, game time management and decision making by the coaches counts for a lot and we have yet to see that….even though its hard to imagine that being worse than the last couple years.
    Be competitive in every game, win a couple on the road and make it to a bowl….Go Buffs.

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