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CU at Minnesota: “T.I.P.S.” for the Buffs’ Attempt at Relevance

… Related … If you prefer your predictions verbally, “CU at the Game Podcast: “T.I.P.S.” for CU at Minnesota, can be found at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio, or pretty much wherever you download your favorites. Or, if you would prefer, you can find the podcast here.

Yuck.

Again.

CU’s Redemption Tour was supposed to begin against Air Force. After laying an egg in the second half against TCU, the Buffs were set to regroup with a new quarterback under center, and a renewed focus.

Well, that lasted for all of two plays. On the second play from scrimmage against the Falcons, J.T. Shrout, making his first career start as a Buff, fumbled. Air Force scored on the next play. All of 33 seconds into Game Two, and the Buffs were behind for good.

Now, the Buffs are traveling to Minneapolis to take on a team which embarrassed them, 30-0, last season in Boulder. A team which let their offensive coordinator, Mike Sanford, go, only to see him resurface in Boulder. A team which is now averaging 50 points a game … without Sanford.

CU, meanwhile, with Mike Sanford as its offensive coordinator, is averaging one touchdown and 11.5 points per game.

Any chance for the Buffs to pull off an upset? Any chance the CU offense can find some semblance of consistency and production?

Any chance Karl Dorrell is CU’s coach after this season?

Let’s find out …

This Week’s “T.I.P.S” for CU at Minnesota – Saturday, 1:30 p.m., MT, ESPN2

T – Talent

Minnesota offense, 2021, with Mike Sanford as its offensive coordinator:

  • Total offense: 360.1 yards per game – 99th nationally;
  • Scoring offense: 25.5 points per game – 83rd nationally.

Minnesota offense, 2022, with Kirk Ciarrocca returning as its offensive coordinator:

  • Total offense: 582.0 yards per game – 1st nationally;
  • Scoring offense: 50.0 points per game – 7th nationally.

Yes, Minnesota’s 2022 numbers represent only a two game sample (a 38-0 win over New Mexico State and a 62-10 win over Western Illinois), the numbers, especially in light of what CU is producing under Mike Sanford, cannot be ignored.

Quarterback Tanner Morgan, who has seemingly been at Minnesota for a decade (Morgan is a sixth-year senior; he is 29-12 as a starter), has a quarterback rating of 186.5 for the first two games, completing 73 percent of his passes in playing just over a half in both games.

Running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who missed last year’s game against Colorado with an injury, is looking to post his third 1,000-yard rushing season as a Golden Gopher. In the first two games of this season, Ibrahim has 262 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 6.0 yards per carry. If the Buffs focus too much on Ibrahim, however, the Gophers have another talented weapon in Trey Potts, who has 168 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games.

Compare … Colorado … as a team … has 224 yards rushing and one touchdown …

Want more bad news?

While the Minnesota offense last season struggled (under, ahem, Mike Sanford), the unit which led the team to a 9-4 record and second place finish in the Big Ten West was the defense.

The Golden Gopher defense was ranked in the top ten nationally in rushing defense (8th), passing defense (8th), total defense (3rd) and scoring defense (6th). Minnesota did lose five starters, including its leading tackler and a good chunk of its defensive line, but the defense hasn’t been challenged so far in 2022, giving up just one touchdown (a garbage time score to Western Illinois, with the Leathernecks picking up a touchdown with four minutes left in the game, with Minnesota already up 62-3).

Are you  ready for some football?

 

I – Intangibles

Looking for some help here for the Buffs’ cause?

Keep going.

With CU’s microscopic offensive output under Mike Sanford, and Minnesota’s early success without him, it’s an easy topic of conversation to point out how much better the Golden Gophers are doing without Sanford, and how much the Buffs are struggling with him as its OC.

This game was supposed to be the Mike Sanford Redemption game, with Sanford showing his former employer that they made a mistake in letting him go. Instead, it will be the exact opposite, with Minnesota having the opportunity to showcase just how well its offense can function without Sanford on the headset.

So … when Minnesota has the ball, the nation’s leading offense will want to show off just how little it misses Sanford.

And … when CU has the ball, the Minnesota defense will want to keep the Mike Sanford show from having any success.

The game was already looking to be a blowout.

What this tells me … When the Golden Gophers take a big lead, don’t look for them to let up, either on offense or defense. Look for them to make a statement, going for 50+ on offense, and a shutout on defense.

Western Illinois got a garbage time touchdown late against Minnesota, with the Golden Gophers fielding a defense of backups.

Don’t look for such mercy against the Buffs.

 

P – Preparation/Schedule

When the Buffs took to the field to take on the Falcons Saturday afternoon, the Golden Gophers were already preparing for their Week Three contest against Colorado.

Minnesota took on Western Illinois in an early game last Saturday (10:00 a.m., MT, kickoff), and the 62-10 whitewash was over and already in the books when CU was playing Air Force.

You can almost picture the Minnesota coaching staff in their offices, kicking back with a nice late lunch and a cold beverage, laughing and taking notes as the Buffs struggled against Air Force. While the Buffs were boarding buses for the long humbling drive back to Boulder late Saturday afternoon, the Minnesota coaches were finalizing game preparations … and watching with delight as Iowa lost to Iowa State, Wisconsin lost to Washington State, and Nebraska lost to Georgia Southern.

The Big Ten West Division may be there for the taking, and Minnesota is not going to let the Baby Buffs from Boulder derail their plans.

Meanwhile, in Boulder … 

As the Buffs are preparing for their second straight road game (never a good time for CU), the Buffs at least have a home game to open conference play next week. Colorado will take on UCLA to open Pac-12 play, while Minnesota will take to the road for the first time in 2022, taking on Michigan State.

A big game against a nationally ranked conference opponent?

Will the Golden Gophers be looking past the Buffs, and have their minds focused on the Spartans instead?

Probably … but not enough to give CU a chance at a victory.

 

S – Statistics 

Last weekend, the Buffs played against the team which had led the nation in rushing in 2021, and was leading the nation again early in 2022.

The result? Air Force ran around, through, and over the Colorado defense for 435 yards and five touchdowns.

Now the Buffs are taking on a Minnesota team which currently leads the nation in total offense (582 yards per game) and is seventh in scoring offense (50.0 points per game).

Colorado, meanwhile, is 104th in total defense, giving up 428.0 yards per game, and 120th in scoring defense (39.5 points per game).

On the other side of the ball, Colorado is 125th nationally in total offense (255.0 yards per game), and 126th in scoring offense (11.5 points per game), going up against a Minnesota defense which is 1st in the nation in total defense, giving up only 142.5 yards per game, and second in the nation in scoring defense, giving up only 10 points in two games.

Now, are the numbers skewed by the opposition both teams have played to date? Certainly.

Will Minnesota’s gaudy numbers, both on offense and defense, level out as the season progresses? Most definitely.

But does the CU/Minnesota game, at least on paper, set up to be a complete mauling?

Yup.

Stats to watch (i.e, stats which will play a role in deciding the game)Turnovers … The Buff defense, after being shutout against TCU in the turnover department, forced three turnovers against Air Force. The defense did its part, but the Buff offense failed miserably in taking advantage. Over a four possession span from the end of the first half through the third quarter, the Buff offense was set up in Falcon territory three times (and once at the CU 49-yard line). Those four drives resulted in a grand total of three points, effectively ending CU’s chance at being competitive … Third down conversions … CU’s offense was stymied against TCU, going only 6-of-15 on third down conversions (and 0-for-3 on fourth down). Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did, with the Buff offense going 1-for-11 on third downs against Air Force (and 0-for-2 on fourth down). If the Buffs are going to have any chance at being competitive, much less winning, these numbers are going to have to flip, with CU picking up a majority of its third down opportunities.

Prediction … 

Colorado has gone from an unknown quantity to a team which is struggling to a national joke … in about two weeks.

Most of the pundits had CU picked to win 3 or 4 games, but we in the Buff Nation were more optimistic, with some (like me), squinting their eyes when they looked at the schedule, trying to find a way to five wins.

Now? No one sees Colorado as anything but a horrible team. Two losses by four touchdowns to teams which, at least on paper, the Buffs had a decent chance to beat.

The CBS “Bottom 25” now features Colorado as its No. 5 team (up, or down, from No. 25 last week). The only other Power Five team on the list is Boston College, coming in at No. 23. Kansas (Kansas!) is 2-0, with a road conference victory over West Virginia on its resume. Vanderbilt is 2-1; Rutgers (Rutgers!) is 2-0 (with a win over Boston College); Duke (Duke!) is 2-0, with a win over Northwestern; and Northwestern, of course, has a win over Nebraska.

CU can’t even hide behind other doormats. Right now, even if the Buffs pull off an upset in the next few weeks, they will still be one of the worst – if not the worst – Power Five team in the nation.

Colorado is a 27.5-point underdog to Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are a good, but not that great, of a Power Five opponent.

At this point, until or unless the Buffs prove that they can score more than one touchdown a game, the opponent will continue to be the pick.

Prediction … Minnesota 49, Colorado 10

2022 Predictions … (Straight up: 1-1; Against the Spread: 1-1) … 

  • Colorado 27, TCU 24 … Actual: TCU 38, Colorado 13
  • Air Force 42, Colorado 17 … Actual: Air Force 41, Colorado 10

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14 Replies to ““T.I.P.S.” for CU at Minnesota”

  1. So will Sanford rustle up a little more motivation to shame his ex boss? Pull out a few stops? insert some new wrinkles? fly out of the box all over em? Was he willing to risk 2 games to hide whats coming?
    None of my money on it

  2. Didn’t go to the game last week. Didn’t watch the game last week as the rain and cold up the canyon was not the most fun. But the concert was great. My kids and friend like em a lot. Was shocked I got into em.

    Anyway this week? No prediction. It is what it will be.
    I will watch this and be pumped up till I am not. Still be watching thought Bought a new Buff hat. Very nice.

    Go Buffs.

    Note: Can ya win 6 out the last ten please? Thanks!!

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