CU at Oregon State: “T.I.P.S.” for a Buff Team Taking the Mike Sanford Show on the Road

… Related … If you prefer your predictions verbally, “CU at the Game Podcast: “T.I.P.S.” for CU at Oregon State: Can The Buffs Build on the Momentum of the Overtime Win Over Cal?, can be found at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio, or pretty much wherever you download your favorites. Or, if you would prefer, you can listen to the podcast here at the CU at the Game website.

It’s hard to soak up the good moments when they come.

I don’t understand why we are wired the way we are, but studies show that we tend to dwell on bad things that happen to us and our families much longer than we savor the good.

The same holds true for football fans. We spend far more time stressing over the bad results than we spend relishing the big wins.

Colorado 20, California 13 is a good thing. Enjoy it. Relish it. Go back and watch the videos of the last play and the students rushing the field. It’s okay – no one will judge you.

The Buffs win over the Bears does not make up for the five humbling losses to start the season, but, for at least a week, CU in the Mike Sanford era is undefeated, and CU has a defense which can hold its own against Power Five competition.

Can CU sustain the momentum, and find a way to upset Oregon State, which has been installed as a three-touchdown favorite?

Let’s find out …


This Week’s “T.I.P.S” for CU at Oregon State – Saturday, 6:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

T – Talent

Who will be taking the snaps at quarterback Saturday night in Corvallis?

The starter is injured, but could be available to play. The backup has had issues, but performed well enough to win last Saturday.

Thinking we’re talking about Owen McCown and J.T. Shrout?

Well, the above does apply to CU (Mike Sanford said Tuesday that McCown was practicing, but would be a game-time decision), but here we’re talking about Oregon State, and the status of their quarterbacks.

Chance Nolan had started 17 consecutive games for the Beavers, but was injured in the October 1st game against Utah. Nolan left with a neck strain, and was in the concussion protocol last week.

Replacing Nolan the past two games – both victories – has been third-year freshman Ben Gulbranson. Against Stanford, Gulbranson threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner in the final minute. Against Washington State, Gulbranson threw for only 141 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Nolan may be back for the game against Colorado, or it could be Gulbranson’s third career start.

Even with Gulbranson’s less than eye-popping numbers last Saturday, the Beavers were able beat the Cougars, largely because the Oregon State running game is exceptional. Oregon State ran for 203 yards against Washington State, led by Damien Martinez, who had 111 yards on only 16 carries. Overall, Oregon State is 40th in the nation in rushing, averaging over 184 yards rushing per game. (Compare CU: The Buffs are averaging just over 113 yards rushing per game, 106th in the nation).

The Oregon State is very good – though not great – if you just look at the numbers. The Beavers are 50th nationally in total defense, giving up just shy of 360 yards per game (CU has yet to generate 360 yards of offense in any of its first six games, posting 328 yards against Cal). The Oregon State defense is surrendering almost 25 points per game … but … the Beavers gave up only 10 points to a Washington State offense run by Cameron Ward, a mobile quarterback with a strong arm.

If you have had a chance to watch the Beavers, you’ll probably agree that one of the impressive aspects to Oregon State is their team speed. They have quick backs and receivers, and quick linebackers and defensive backs. The Beavers opened the game against the Cougars with a 70-yard kickoff return, scored a few plays later, and never looked back.

Plus, there is this, which Jon Wilner said of Oregon State’s defense: “OSU’s defensive front and linebackers are solid, but we have yet to spot a better secondary anywhere in the conference”.

Which translates into CU having to run the ball well to be successful. As noted above, the Buffs are currently checking in No. 106 in the nation in rushing offense, at 113 yards per game. CU may need to double its average to stay with the Beavers on the scoreboard.

If the Buffs are going to have a chance to defeat the Beavers, they will have to prevent big plays by the OSU offense, and limit mistakes when they have the ball.

And that’s a tall task with as many freshman as CU is playing on both sides of the ball.


I – Intangibles

Five teams have axed their coaches so far this season. Before the firings, those teams were a combined 1-15 vs. FBS foes. Since firing their coaches, they’re a far more respectable 7-5.

CU is, of course, 1-0 in the Mike Sanford era.

Was the win over Cal just a “dead cat bounce” … or the start of something better at CU?

“It’s not really a major change”, said senior defensive end Terrance Lang of the Buffs’ energy building up to the Cal game. “It’s just to keep honing in on what these coaches are saying. Everybody keeping the right mindset and attitude going forward. And it starts at practice on Tuesday. We had a hell of a week of practice. I know all of you have heard that a lot this season, but this week we really did have a week of practice. It showed on the field today, it was a different team.”

“This has nothing to do with me hitting the right buttons,” Mike Sanford said at his first post-game press conference as Colorado’s head coach. “This is all for the players and all about the players. This is all about their response, their resolve … We talked about how unbelievable of a group of resilient fighters that we have in our locker room. I think everybody had a chance to see that on full display today. I’m just really proud of these players.”

But can it be sustained?

From 1,300 miles away, Oregon State’s 24-10 win in Corvallis over Washington State last Saturday may not have appeared to be all that out of the ordinary to the Buff Nation in Boulder. After all, both OSU and WSU came into that game with 4-2, 1-2 records. Both the Beavers and the Cougars had won against decent non-conference opposition (OSU over Boise State and Fresno State: WSU over Wisconsin), and both teams had their two losses coming against ranked opponents (OSU to USC and Utah; WSU to Oregon and USC).

Oregon State was playing at home and was a three-point favorite, and won with strong play on both sides of the ball.

So, nothing to see here, right?

Except for the fact that Oregon State exorcized a demon last weekend. While it may come as a surprise, the Beavers on Saturday broke an eight-game losing streak to Washington State.

Yup. Oregon State hadn’t won a game against Washington State since the 2013 season.

So, it was a big deal in Corvallis for the Beavers to take down the Cougars … and the Beavers will have some well-earned momentum heading into the game against Colorado.


P – Preparation/Schedule

Oregon State is sitting at 5-2, with a 2-2 record in Pac-12 play. One more victory, and the Beavers will be bowl eligible. Big deal? Well, it is in Corvallis. Fact is, until last year, it had been almost a decade since Oregon State had last gone bowling (2013). For Beaver fans – as it is for Buff fans – a bowl bid is a sign of legitimacy, and is not to be taken lightly. There is no reason to believe that the Oregon State players will be looking past Colorado, not wanting to wait until November to secure a bowl opportunity.

Oh, and the Beavers have a bye week after playing Colorado. Their next game is a big one – on the road against Washington – but they will have two weeks to prepare for the Huskies.

If the Buffs are hoping the home team will be looking past them, giving the Buffs a chance to sneak up on the Beavers and pull of an upset … probably not going to happen.

Meanwhile, in Boulder …

The November-we-won’t-want-to-remember is coming up from behind, and is getting bigger and bigger in the rear view mirror. The November schedule includes three games against programs currently ranked among the top 15 teams in the nation, with the fourth game, a road tilt against Washington, another potentially ugly outcome.

So, for the program which can’t afford to look past anyone, there is certainly no looking past Oregon State. Colorado was a 15-point underdog on Saturday against Cal. The Buffs had not won while being that big of an underdog since a 2012 victory at Washington State. That day, the Buffs were 20-point underdogs and won, 35-34. That victory, coming in the final minutes just like the Cal game, proved to be the only victory in a 1-11 season.

That kind of history has an ugly way of repeating itself.

In 2012, the victorious underdog Buffs returned home the following weekend against UCLA … and lost 42-14. In fact, over the next seven games after the win over Washington State, the Buffs never got closer to a win than 25 points (and that was a 56-31 track meet against Arizona).

Buff fans expect a CU team at least as good as it was against Cal, if not better.

History tells us that might not happen.


S – Statistics 

Ugh … Do we have to?

You just have to laugh … to keep from crying.

The major stats, while slightly better after the Cal game, are still depressing …

  • Offense … Rushing (106th nationally) … Passing (116th) … Total yards (124th) … Scoring (129th);
  • Defense … Rushing (129th – up two spots from dead last!) … Passing (57th) … Total yards (124th) … Scoring (127th).

Stats to watch (i.e, stats which will play a role in deciding the game)

  • Red zone success … Colorado has been just this side of adequate in its red zone offense. The Buffs have converted 13 of 16 red zone opportunities (81%)into scores, which sounds pretty good. The problem is that only eight of those scores have been touchdowns, with five field goals. CU’s opponent, Oregon State, is keeping teams out of their end zone. The Beavers’ third down defense is ranked 9th in the nation, as opponents have had 23 red zone chances, but come away with only 12 touchdowns (and four field goals). With CU’s sluggish offense and OSU’s stout defense, the Buffs will need to take advantage of every red zone opportunity, and come away with touchdowns instead of field goals;
  • Third down conversion defense  … Want a stat which contributed greatly to CU’s win over Cal? Coming into the game against the Bears, CU’s opposition had a 57.4% conversion rate on third downs (35-of-61), putting CU dead last in the nation in that category. Last weekend, Cal converted only 5-of-17 third down chances.

On the bright side … The Buffs were aggressive on defense against the Bears. They finished with 10 tackles for loss — more than half of the 18 total they had in the first five games — along with a pair of quarterback sacks and two turnovers.

The Buffs also reduced explosive plays. In the first five games, CU had allowed 19 plays of 20 yards or more on first down, and 50 of 10 or more. Last Saturday, the Buffs allowed just one play for 20 yards on first down and only five of 10 or more.

Linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo, who finished with nine tackles (3.5 for loss), said it was a simplification of CU’s scheme that made the difference. “Basically, simplify, do some different styles and really just allow us to play fast and eliminate all errors to where we could really just go out and just play,” he said. “Everything was on us and it showed. We put the work in over the past two weeks to learn a new scheme, and it showed today.”

Here’s hoping that Oregon State coaches won’t be able to dissect – and be able to counter – the new schemes.


Prediction … 

Colorado is a 23.5-point underdog to Oregon State.

When I saw the line for the first time on Sunday, I thought it was a typo. I expected the line to be in the 14-to-17 point range.

This just in: Las Vegas sees the CU victory over Cal as more of a Cal face plant than an indication that Colorado is having a resurgence.

To an extent, I would agree: The Buffs have a five-game losing streak in their immediate past where they were not even competitive, and lost in absurdly ugly fashion. That memory is not going to be erased by one afternoon’s efforts.

If the Buffs can stay with the Beavers for a good chunk of Saturday night, they will win over more believers … but the proof is in the playing.

The forecast is for drizzle and rain (typical Oregon weather, though when we were out in Portland two weeks ago, it was in the 80’s). The high for Saturday is forecast to be 58, with a 70% chance of rain. The Buffs have been practicing this week with wet footballs, trying to obviate any weather related issues.

The advantage for the Beavers of being used to playing in the rain may be slightly offset by a slight dampening of enthusiasm from the fan base (though a loud crowd should be expected).  If anything, the damp weather might lead both teams to run the ball more, which would keep the clock moving and shorten the game.

And lead to fewer points being scored.

The over/under is 50, which means Vegas is seeing a game in the 37-13 neighborhood.

Last week, I picked the Buffs to lose, but to beat the spread. I thought there would be an “interim coach bump” … and the Buffs certainly came through.

I still can’t see the Buffs winning the game against Oregon State, but I can see them keeping it close enough to gain a few more believers of their improvement …

Prediction … Oregon State 30, Colorado 13

2022 Predictions … (Straight up: 4-2; Against the Spread: 5-1) … 

  • Prediction: Colorado 27, TCU 24 … Actual: TCU 38, Colorado 13
  • Prediction: Air Force 42, Colorado 17 … Actual: Air Force 41, Colorado 10
  • Prediction: Minnesota 49, Colorado 10 … Actual: Minnesota 49, Colorado 7
  • Prediction: UCLA 38, Colorado 13 … Actual: UCLA 45, Colorado 17
  • Prediction: Arizona 33, Colorado 14 … Actual: Arizona 43, Colorado 20
  • Prediction: California 33, Colorado 21 … Actual: Colorado 20, California 13, OT


11 Replies to ““T.I.P.S.” for CU at Oregon State”

  1. I’m feeling as lucky as VK.

    If Buffs get beat it won’t be because they don’t have belief in Sanford.
    The man can M-O-T-O-V-A-T-E !!! Not only players but – apparently – a university and fans.

    My kinda’ guy. I wish him nothing but THE BEST…….and I hope he proves it and gets to be HC. Anyone who can influence a team-it’s fans- and, the university into a total reversal exhibited last week must have something going his way.


  2. I expect the CU defense to come out in their modified scheme where they fill every gap and have an extra safety creeping in. Oregon State runs power football more than anything else with play action and a little bit of stretch. There o lineman are not particularly big and don’t create massive push. If CU’s defense continues what we saw on Saturday we can dramatically slow Oregon State down.
    On the offensive side Oregon State has a very strong DB group. Very disciplined, and fast. They can sometimes have issues tackling in space 1:1 but they all run to the ball and so it is rarely a 1:1 tackle. The linebackers are very good and have sideline to sideline range. To be frank, Shrout is probably the better choice here. As fast as the db’s are you will need Shrout’s arm strength to drive passes. That seam pass to MLC is a perfect example. Do not expect out routes, crossing patterns to work and the curl routes better be in the air before the reciever finishes the break becuase the db is going to be on the recievers hip. On the running side I think this is about running up the middle. There d line is solid but there are gaps. Will CU stay committed to the run, I am not sure. We did not last week. We would have 2 successful running plays and then throw it. I am not sure Patterson believes in running on third down unless it is 3rd and 1 or 2 and we are not going to have that luxury. We still do not know who we are offensively. We are a balanced attack 34 passes 35 runs in the last game and that sort of balance is by design. It continues what Dorrell’s philosophy was and is not a huge deviation like we saw on the defensive side. We had a lot of missed blocks. Brown was definitely off his game. There may be a change to the blocking schemes or maybe that d tackle was just that much better than Brown. If, a big if, we can fix those missed blocks there are more yards in this run game.

    So long story short. This is a winnable game. Oregon State is not that much more talented than us and their offense is not nearly as effecient with their back up qb. We would have to play as good on d as we did against Cal and much better on our run offense. This is accomplishable. Unfortunately, I would not expect it. As in all things this year we are in a prove it case. The defense came out and played well. I have thought for a while their scheme was fundamentally flawed, the new scheme helped but the fact that the players bought in to Sanford is what took them over the top. On offense we’re we’re the same team we have been all year. That will not be good enough against Oregon State. We must get better and until they show me they can I can’t predict a win. I will say the other than the weird read option play where we pull the tight end across the formation to block the read, and thus defeat the purpose of the read option in my opinion I like our run game design for Cal. It’s straight forward, puts a hat on a hat. If we make the blocks we have to make it will work. Brown whiffed badly on 3-4 plays where the d lineman crossed his face and blew up the play. 2 of them were critical as 1 stopped what I was pretty sure would have been a touch down that later became a field goal.

    No score prediction. I need the defense to show up again and no idea what the offense will. It shouldn’t get as ugly as the other games. I think Sanford will have them all playing for 60 minutes.

  3. I took the CU and the points, while I don’t see a victory, getting 24 points is significant.

    BTW I don’t bet much, but even a $5 bet makes it more interesting for me.

  4. Not sure 30-13 is keeping it close, Stuart but I guess we adjust our expectations based on the facts at hand and recent results. I’ll say Buffs get an extra TD and Beavers get one less FG for a close 27-20 Beaver win.

    1. probably close as long as the D continues its improved play and Sanford manages to improve the O this week. Otherwise it might be 27 to 6

  5. Was very happy to get my 1st loss, hoping to get my 2nd, but not seeing it, OSU has a very good D
    Beavers-38 Buffs-10

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