CU v. Minnesota Preview: “T.I.P.S.” for Breakfast with the Gophers

… Related … If you prefer your predictions verbally, “CU at the Game Podcast: A&M recap and Minnesota preview” can be found at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or pretty much wherever you download your favorites. Or, if you would prefer, you can find the podcast here or here.

This was always destined to be the rubber game of the 2021 non-conference schedule.

The win over Northern Colorado to open up the season was almost all but a given; the loss against Texas A&M was also almost all but a given.

Now, the Buffs did struggle at time against the UNC Bears, and the Buffs did come tantalizingly close to an upset over the A&M Aggies.

CU was soclose to a 2-0 record and a national ranking that the Buff Nation could taste it. But, in the end, it was a last minute loss, and a 1-1 record.

Right where everyone predicted CU would be after two weeks of the season.

Now, it’s on to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who are also 1-1 on the season. Minnesota also – predictably – lost to Ohio State and defeated Miami (Ohio). The Golden Gophers are also looking at the third game of the season as huge. One of these teams will walk off of Folsom Field early Saturday afternoon with a 2-1 record, and a leg up on achieving bowl eligibility. The other will be 1-2, with an uphill climb to six wins and a bowl bid.

Minnesota opened as a three-point favorite, but the line quickly shifted, with Colorado now listed a 1.5- to 2.5-point favorite.

Sounds like it’s anyone’s ballgame … a crucial toss-up the Buffs must have if CU is going to go bowling this season.

So, without further adieu, here are the “T.I.P.S.” for the Buffs’ tilt against the Golden Gophers …

This Week’s “T.I.P.S” for CU v. Minnesota – Saturday, 11:00 a.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

T – Talent

The setup was there.

In the abbreviated 2020 season, Minnesota running back Mohammed Ibrahim was second in the nation in rushing yards per game, averaging 153.7 yards per game. Right behind Ibrahim, at No. 3 in the nation in rushing yards per game, was CU’s Jarek Broussard, who averaged 149.2 yards per game. Ibrahim was named the Big Ten running back of the year, while Broussard was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year.

The feature matchup, though, isn’t going to happen.

In Minnesota’s opener against Ohio State, Ibrahim did his part, with 30 carries for 163 yards and two touchdowns before going down with a lower leg injury which ended his season. (Broussard, for his part, has yet to match Ibrahim’s totals despite playing two games … 27 carries for 145 yards and two touchdowns).

In Ibrahim’s place, sophomore running back Treyson Potts was the featured back in Minnesota’s 31-26 win over Miami (Ohio). Potts had Ibrahim-like numbers, going for 178 yards on 34 carries, with two touchdowns.

In case you were wondering, the Golden Gophers like to run the ball.

Need further evidence?

In the first half against Miami (Ohio), quarterback Minnesota Tanner Morgan went 8-for-11 for 112 yards passing, with two touchdowns. In the second half? Morgan went 0-for-6 for zero yards. True enough, Minnesota was trying to protect a 21-3 halftime lead, but, even when Miami came back to make it a 21-20 game early in the fourth quarter, Morgan and the Gophers were unable to complete a pass.

When Morgan does drop back to pass, his favorite targets are wide receivers Dylan Wright (eight catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns) and Daniel Jackson (seven receptions for 88 yards and a score).

While those numbers may sound pedestrian, they are still better than CU’s top receivers after two games (no Buff has more than four receptions or more than 37 yards receiving. Montana Lemonious-Craig has the Buffs’ only touchdown reception).

The Minnesota offense was more than adequate last season – especially when Mohammed Ibrahim was carrying the ball – but the defense was a disappointment. The defense was 102nd nationally in rushing defense, 72nd in total defense, and 70th in scoring defense. To try and shore up the unit, the Golden Gophers brought in eight transfers. The headliner was supposed to be former Clemson defensive tackle Nyles Pinckney, who was a captain and played more than 1,000 snaps for the Tigers, but Pinckney has had only one tackle through two games. Minnesota’s answer to Nate Landman is linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin, who leads the team with 16 tackles (10 unassisted) in the first two games.

Both teams will want to run the ball with authority; both teams are hoping their passing game is at least adequate enough to help keep the opposition honest.

Should be an interesting matchup.


I – Intangibles

Two different years; two similar games … which had differing effects on the program.

2006 … 

Colorado was winless in the first three games of the Dan Hawkins era, including embarrassing losses to Montana State and CSU. The Buffs took their 0-3 record to Athens, Georgia, to take on undefeated and 9th-ranked Georgia.

As was the case against No. 5 Texas A&M last weekend, the Buffs lead the Bulldogs for much of that afternoon between the hedges. A late fumble by the Buffs led to a Georgia touchdown with 46 seconds remaining, allowing the Bulldogs to escape with a 14-13 victory.

Despite leaving Athens with an 0-4 record, the Buff Nation was excited about the future of the program. CU had held its own against a top SEC team, and on the road no less. If the Buffs could do that, then brighter days were ahead.

Except … the Buffs went on to finish the 2006 season with a 2-10 record.

2016 … 

Colorado went on the road to face undefeated and 4th-ranked Michigan. The Buffs hadn’t posted a winning season in 11 seasons, and were heavy underdogs. As had been the case in Athens ten years earlier against the Georgia Bulldogs, the Buffs jumped out to an early lead against the Wolverines. An injury to quarterback Sefo Liufau in the third quarter, however, ultimately doomed the Buffs to a 45-28 defeat.

The following week, the Buffs traveled to Eugene to take on the Oregon Ducks. The Buffs were 0-5 against the Ducks since joining the Pac-12, and hadn’t been close to a victory, losing by scores of 45-2, 70-14, 57-16, 44-10 and 41-24 … an average score of 51-13.

Starting a redshirt freshman quarterback, the Buffs shocked the Autzen faithful, pulling out a 41-38 victory. The Buffs went on to post a 10-2 regular season record, winning the Pac-12 South.

2021 … 

Colorado led No. 5 Texas A&M for almost three full quarters (44:43 of game clock, to be exact), only trailing for the final three minutes after the Aggies scored their only touchdown of the game with 2:41 to play, holding to defeat the Buffs, 10-7.

So … how will the loss to Texas A&M affect these Buffs and the remainder of the 2021 season?

Will it prove to be a catalyst, as the Michigan game was in 2016, leading to a strong rebound and a great season?

Or will it prove to be an aberration, the highwater mark in yet another disappointing fall for the Buff faithful?

We’ll have a pretty good idea of what the answer will be by late Saturday afternoon.


P – Preparation/Schedule

It’s still early in the season, so there isn’t too much in the scheduling which would adversely affect either CU or its opponent.

This Saturday’s game will be the first road game of the season for Minnesota, and, in essence, CU’s third straight home game. The kickoff will be at 11:00 a.m., MT, which may actually benefit the visitors more than the home team. The Buffs don’t usually play morning games, but the Golden Gophers, being in the land of the Big Noon kickoff on Fox, will be at noon on their body clocks. (Not to mention the fact that Minnesota’s game last weekend against Miami kicked off at 11:00 a.m., local time).

The forecast high for Saturday is holding around 90-degrees, which will make for a warm day in Folsom (bring plenty of sunscreen!). Temperature at kickoff last weekend for the Buffs’ game against Texas A&M was a warm 92-degrees … but it was a pleasant 73-degrees in Minneapolis when the Golden Gophers faced Miami (Ohio), so advantage, CU.

Next weekend, CU begins Pac-12 play with a road game against Arizona State, while Minnesota returns home to finish its non-conference schedule against an 0-2 Bowling Green … a team which just lost to South Alabama. Advantage, Minnesota.


S – Statistics 

How good has the CU defense been so far this season?

Colorado has allowed under 300 yards in each of its first two games this season (256 by Northern Colorado, 288 by Texas A&M). That previously happened
on eight occasions over the last 50 seasons (1971, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1987, 2001, 2006, 2016). Only in 1976 did the streak reach three (Texas Tech had 186 in the
opener, Washington 287 in game two and then Miami-Fla. 272 in game three).

The Race to 1,000 … Tailbacks Alex Fontenot and Jarek Broussard are in a race to become the 55th player in school history to rush for 1,000 career yards.
It will come down who carries and when, but Fontenot is 55th now with 996 yards, while Broussard is 58th with 958 (technically he is over 1,000, but CU doesn’t count bowl stats.

Stats to make you smile? Colorado is currently 5th in the nation in scoring defense, giving up 8.5 points per game. Minnesota, meanwhile, is 114th in the nation in scoring defense, giving up 35. 5 points per game. The Buffs are 26th in total defense (272.0 yards per game), while the Golden Gophers are 103rd in total defense (418.0 yards per game).

Stats to make you cringe? CU is 126th in the nation (out of 130 teams) in passing offense, posting 95.5 yards per game. Total offense? 109th (321.5 yards/game). Scoring offense? 105th (21.0 points/game).

Stats to watch (i.e, stats which will decide the game) … Minnesota is 6th in the nation in time of possession (35:39), which translates to: If the Golden Gophers can keep the ball away from the Buffs, the already struggling Buffs will have fewer opportunities to score … Minnesota is 101st in the nation in third down conversion defense, which translates to: The Buffs must convert on third downs and keep drives alive – it can be done! … Minnesota has zero sacks in the first two games (124th in the nation), which translates to: If the CU offensive line can’t protect Brendon Lewis, and give him time to be successful throwing the ball, the Buffs are in trouble …


Prediction … 

The last time Minnesota came to Boulder to play the Buffs, it was 30 years ago this week, on September 21, 1991. The No. 19 Buffs took it to the Golden Gophers early and often. CU amassed 612 yards of total offense, surpassing the 600-yard mark for only the eighth time in school history, walking away with a 58-0 victory.

Considering the Buffs have scored 42 points in the first two games of the 2021 season, the chances at CU scoring 58 this weekend is pretty remote, if not existent.

Now, the last time the two teams squared off came a year later, when the Buffs finished the home-and-home with the Golden Gophers on September 19, 1992. Played in the old Metrodome, the No. 11 Buffs fell behind Minnesota, 17-0, in the third quarter.

Enter Koy Detmer.

Posting the third greatest comeback (in terms of point deficit) in Colorado history, the Buffs rallied behind the little brother of BYU Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer to defeat Minnesota, 21-20.

That sounds more like what CU fans will witness on Saturday.

Not the falling behind 17-0, mind you (though that worked against the last Big Ten team to visit Folsom, being Nebraska in 2019), but the final score sounds about right.

Both teams like to run the ball. Both teams have struggled passing the ball.

Sounds like a low-scoring game with the clock running, shortening the game and the number of possessions.

The Buffs will have to make every possession count. The team which can put together drives will not only keep the other offense off the field, but will wear down the opposing defense.

It should be close. It should be tense. But the home team should survive.

The 1992 game ended with a 21-20 CU victory.

Sounds about right.

Prediction … Colorado 21, Minnesota 20. 

Previous predictions …

  • Colorado 38, Northern Colorado 17 … Actual: Colorado 35, Northern Colorado 7
  • No. 5 Texas A&M 38, Colorado 17 … Actual: No. 5 Texas A&M 10, Colorado 7


12 Replies to “CU v. Minnesota – “T.I.P.S.” for Buffs v. Gophers”

  1. As long as we are all wishing and hoping
    Arias holds on to the ball this time and the coaches dont freak out and shut down the deep game completely.
    A couple of strikes 20 yards or more, loosening the box, and a couple new wrinkles in the blocking schemes based on gopher digging the coaches see on film, spring Jarek for a big day.
    On 3rd or 4th and short or any time in the red zone, and maybe a few other times in the course of the game KD vetoes the play call and puts in his own.
    And of course the D maintains their intensity…no let downs after their utterly outstanding performance last game

  2. Both teams have played similar schedules to date. Key stat – Colorado is 5th in scoring defense (8.5 PPG) . Minnesota is 114th in scoring defense (35. 5 PPG). Both teams can run, but can’t pass. CU’s run defense will make the difference. 24-10 Buffs.

  3. Buffs are pissed off and salty and have something to prove. Offense gets 300 yds rushing, and the dink dunk pass game is just enough. Defense locks down. Buffs 27-9.

  4. Holy cow, I have been defending Chev on the boards and all of you think we are going to suddenly score a ton. This will be two heavy weights trading body blows in the run game. 17-10 CU, the game is in CU’s control nearly the whole time, just running is tough for long drives for both teams so the points are generated off of a couple explosive plays, a turn over and short fields….

      1. Yeah, I almost went w/ under 20. Just can’t do it. I’m thinking/hoping B-lew takes another good step forward this week, along w/ UM’s defense not being what ATM’s likely is, and maybe instead of some drops and a bogus PI call, they get some bounces their way. And Becker gets 6-9 b/c they can’t convert inside the 30 a time or three.

        Go Buffs

  5. They can change a lot.
    Clean up the play designs to attack M.
    Define which plays and the results of that play and the circumstances beget the next play etc etc
    (That is the biggest problem I see)

    So ya yur stuck with the Chev O but now how it is implemented is the short term fix.


    Note: Different play call input and maybe different play caller ………..Who knows? Hopefull HCKD knows.

    Note 2: He can’t be blind to the obvious here. He sees the players errors and inadequacies and certainly he sees the coaches as well. Looking for a big uptick in the O this week. The young qb has to take the next steps (maybe a couple of flights of them) quickly and most importantly continue the no-turnover status and up the efficiency hoping so

  6. No question the defensive scheme, the in game adjustments and the execution are excellent. The DC promised and delivered.

    No question the offensive scheme, the in game adjustments and the execution are mediocre at best. The OC promised and has not delivered.

    Regardless, I expect HCKD to fix any issues his team has. They are clearly identified, he understands them, knows where they are and will fix them. Urgency is present.

    Go Buffs.

    Note: Buffs 31, Minnehaha 10. (HCKD focused on the entire offense….scheme, in game adjustments and execution… step taken eh????)

    1. No doubt the O is a major point of attention this week but other than demoting Chev, how much can they change in one week of practice? Hopefully its more than just “cleaning up a few details.”
      Sheanault aint helping anything either. He is on strike 3. KD says he has a path back but I dont see it happening. He is an avowed recidivist A transfer is coming in the near future. Too bad as I think he is the best of the bunch of the WR’s. He probably thinks so too making him think he is better than the team.

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