CU v. Stanford: “T.I.P.S.” for Friday the 13th with the Cardinal

… Related … If you prefer your predictions verbally (and from more than one voice), “CU at the Game Podcast: “T.I.P.S.” for CU v. Stanford, can be found at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or pretty much wherever you download your favorites. Or, if you would prefer, you can listen to this week’s Stanford preview podcast here .

There was a tweet this week stating that, according to the ESPN Power Index, the odds of CU starting the first half of the season 4-2 were 0.02%. Or, put another way, there was a 99.8% chance that the Buffs wouldn’t be sitting at 4-2 heading into Friday night’s game against Stanford.

Yes, Virginia, we are living in a brave new world.

CU’s only losses in the first half of the 2023 season have been to two Top Ten teams. The Buffs have won two road games in the first three trips outside of Boulder this season … this for a program which hasn’t won two road games in the same season since 2016. The Buffs defeated a Top 20 team on the road for the first time since 2002. The Buffs took down Arizona State in Tempe for only the second time in school history.

And on and on and on …

But, as is almost always the case when there is success … the bar has been raised. In the preseason Pac-12 media poll, Colorado was picked to finish 11th; Stanford 12th, but the Buffs are listed as 11.5-point favorites at home against Stanford.

The Buffs to date have far exceeded expectations. To date, the 1-4 Cardinal have … met expectations, including an unexpected home loss to Sacramento State.

Stanford has had an extra week to prepare for CU … perhaps the Cardinal’s last best chance at a victory in 2023.

The Buffs were double-digit favorites to beat Colorado State, but had to rally from a double-digit fourth quarter deficit to take down the Rams.

Will the Buffs finally put together a complete game, and dispatch the Cardinal?

Let’s find out …


This Week’s “T.I.P.S” for Colorado v. Stanford – Friday, 8:00 p.m., MT, ESPN

T – Talent


It wasn’t even as close as the score indicated. Granted, losing to a top ten Oregon team 42-6 isn’t something you want on your resume, but the Ducks are a tough team to compete against when you are going into the game with a revamped roster and a first-year head coach.

Of course, we are talking about … Stanford.

A week after Colorado was embarrassed by Oregon, 42-6, the Stanford Cardinal were embarrassed by Oregon … 42-6.

Other than the equally forgettable games against the Ducks, though, the Buffs and Cardinal have parted ways. Stanford is 1-4, with an opening game victory over Hawai’i, but four losses since. The Cardinal were close against Arizona, falling 21-20 at home, but against the other common opponent, USC, Stanford was blitzed by the Trojans, 56-10.

Stanford hasn’t been great this season on offense or defense.

Stanford had to replace almost 20 starters from last year’s squad, but the quarterback competition was still the headline personnel story for the Cardinal entering the season. New head coach Troy Taylor entertained a four-way battle after junior Ari Patu and sophomore Ashton Daniels split reps in the spring. Syracuse transfer Justin Lamson and true freshman Myles Jackson were given a chance at the starting job during Fall Camp.

Justin Lamson got the start in Stanford’s last game, but struggled, going 11-for-20 for all of 106 yards against Oregon. Ashton Daniels did see some action against Oregon, and did earn the start in the Cardinal’s previous game against Arizona. Regardless of who is playing quarterback, protection has been a problem for the offensive line, with the two quarterbacks having been sacked 18 times in five games (Shedeur Sanders has been sacked 30 times in six games).

The rushing attack for Stanford is better than CU’s, but that isn’t saying much. The Buffs have two running backs who have required six games to get over 200 yards rushing (Anthony Hankerson and Dylan Edwards), while Casey Filkins (197 yards and a touchdown) and E.J. Smith (160 yards and a touchdown) lead Stanford (it should be noted that quarterback Justin Lamson, with 128 yards and a touchdown, is the third-leading rusher).

The leading receiver comes from a position which has caused CU problems in the past – tight end. After collecting over 40 catches each of the past two seasons, senior tight end Benjamin Yurosek leads the team with 15 catches for 227 yards and a touchdown. The leading wideout is Elic Ayomanor, who has 15 receptions for 201 yards and a score.  

Overall, Stanford is 100th in total offense, generating 343.6 yards per game, and are 117th in scoring, coming in at 19.2 points per game.

The numbers for the Stanford defense are also pretty bleak, though somewhat skewed by the 42-6 loss to Oregon and the 56-10 beatdown by USC. Overall, the Cardinal are 120th in total defense, giving up 445.2 yards per game (the Buffs are 127th, giving up 465.5 yards/game), and are 120th in scoring defense, giving up 34.6 points per game (the Buffs are just one notch above, at 119th, surrendering 34.17 points/game).

Both Colorado and Stanford have porous defenses; both have ineffective rushing attacks.

The main difference between the 4-2 Buffs and the 1-4 Cardinal?

CU has Shedeur Sanders and CU’s potent passing attack.


I – Intangibles

You can’t go home again … Before he was hired by Stanford, Troy Taylor was a highly successful head coach for Sacramento State of the Big Sky Conference. (Taylor was on several lists of potential candidates for the CU job). Taylor went 30-8 in three years as head coach of the Hornets, including a 12-1 record in 2022. During Sac State’s undefeated run to the FCS playoffs, the Hornets had no problem with Colorado State, defeating the Rams in Ft. Collins, 41-10 (and yes, Buff fans will remember CU’s humbling 30-28 loss to the Hornets at Folsom in 2012).

As fate would have it, Sacramento State was on Stanford’s schedule this fall. Sac State emerged victorious, 30-23, giving the Cardinal Stanford’s second-ever loss to an FCS team. “It’s very familiar faces and good coaches and really good players,” Taylor said of his former team. “Once the game starts, you’re just really competing.”

Still, for a program with a new head coach, a home loss to a local FCS team had to have taken a toll. When you are playing in a conference which has had eight teams ranked, it can’t give your team much optimism for the rest of the season.

The Travis factor … Travis Hunter is back practicing this week, and Coach Prime has indicated that it is likely that Hunter will play this weekend against Stanford.

What does it mean for the game? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps Hunter will be on a pitch count, with his participation limited. Perhaps Hunter will be limited to one side of the ball (though that would be unlikely).

Regardless, the news that Hunter will be available for the game has to give the Stanford coaching staff something to prepare for. As CU’s best defensive player, and one of its top three offensive players, Stanford can’t help but account for what Hunter could do on the field.

As a result, even if Hunter isn’t able to play as many downs as he did in the first two games … he will be a factor.

Which will make it just that much easier for the other Buffs, on both sides of the ball, to do their jobs.


P – Preparation/Schedule

Bye week benefits … Stanford is coming to Boulder after three straight home games and a bye. After the CU game, the Cardinal heads back to Palo Alto to play UCLA and Washington. If you do the math, CU represents Stanford’s only road game between September 10th and November 4th.

Not a bad gig if you can get it.

That being said, it’s not like Troy Taylor’s new team has a great deal of experience in hitting the road. There was the season opener on the road against Hawai’i, but other than that, the only road trip Stanford has been down the coast to Los Angeles to play the Trojans for game two. Will Stanford’s road trip to play a night game – at altitude – on a cold night (temperature at kickoff in the mid-40’s) – work against the Cardinal? Perhaps.

At the same time, it’s a short week for the Buffs. They were on the road last weekend, and didn’t get home until late Saturday night. With a Friday night game, the prep time for this game gives Stanford an even bigger prep time advantage.

Will it be enough? Probably not. But don’t be surprised if the Cardinal comes out with a different quarterback, some odd formations, and a few trick plays …

Last best chance … As noted, Stanford will be playing UCLA and Washington at home before going on the road to play Washington State and Oregon State. The Cardinal then finish up with Notre Dame and Cal.

This just in … that’s five games against ranked teams and a rivalry game against the Cal Bears for the second half of the season.

Colorado players may be looking at Stanford as perhaps the best chance at win No. 5.

Stanford players may be looking at Colorado as perhaps the best chance at win No. 2.

Once again, all the more reason for the Cardinal to pull out all of the stops to get the upset.


S – Statistics 

Will the real CU offense please stand up? … After posting 564 yards of total offense against USC, the Buffs were held to 295 yards of total offense by Arizona State. Colorado is still ranked 50th in total offense/game, at 415.8 yards/game. Which Buff offense will show up against Stanford?;

Return of the turnover? … The Colorado defense shares the Pac-12 lead with eight interceptions and are in the top half of the league with four fumble recoveries, but for the first time last weekend were unable to generate a turnover – this against an Arizona State team which came into the game dead last in the nation in turnover margin. Will the Buffs return to their ball-hawking ways?;

Stanford’s struggles … When you are 1-4 (CU fans can relate), the stats are not going to be good. Stanford rankings of 100th of worse nationally:

  • 100th in total offense, generating 343.6 yards per game;
  • 103rd in passing offense, at 194.8 yards per game;
  • 117th in scoring offense, coming in at 19.2 points per game;
  • 120th in total defense, giving up 445.2 yards per game (the Buffs are 127th, giving up 465.5 yards/game);
  • 120th in scoring defense, giving up 34.6 points per game (the Buffs are just one notch above, at 119th, surrendering 34.17 points/game)

Stat of the week … CU is 8th in the nation in passing offense (337.2 yards/game), while Stanford is 128th in the nation in passing yards allowed (305.8 yards/game). This might be the best mismatch the Buffs will face the remainder of the season …

Discipline … After committing eight penalties for 65 yards against Arizona State, the Buffs are 126th in nation in penalties, at 8.67/game, and 119th in penalty yards, with 72.17 yards marched off in the wrong direction per game;

— Shedeur Sanders records watch … Shedeur Sanders is on pace to reset most of the single season passing in CU history. As the season has hit the halfway mark, it’s time to track how Sanders is progressing towards those standards:

  • Passing touchdowns: 16 … (tied for 12th) … School record: 28 (Sefo Liufau, 2014);
  • Passing yards: 2,020 … 20th … School record: 3,200 (Sefo Liufau, 2014);
  • Passing attempts: 256 … 15th … School record: 498 (Sefo Liufau, 2014);
  • Passing completions: 186 … 13th … School record: 325 (Sefo Liufau, 2014);
  • Completion percentage: 72.7% … 1st … School record: 68.4% (Koy Detmer, 1995).

Clutch … Sanders was 6-for-10 for 87 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter against Arizona State, and is now 44-for-58 for 669 yards and seven touchdowns in the fourth period this season;


Prediction … 

Colorado has been listed as a double-digit favorite for the second time this season, the most times CU has been a heavy favorite in the same season since … the Obama administration.

The Buffs were 20.5-point favorites to beat Colorado State, and, as Buff fans know all too well how that turned out.

Despite the win, Coach Prime called CU’s performance against Arizona State “hot garbage”. The coaching staff, along with the Buff Nation, are still waiting for the week when all three units play well in the same game.

Will it be this weekend? Or will Buff fans have to sit nervously as the underdog once again takes control?

There are plenty of reasons to believe that this will be the most fun a sold out Folsom has been since the second half of the Nebraska game.

Travis Hunter will want to make a splash. Shedeur Sanders will want to make a statement before a national ESPN audience.

It may not be as comfortable as we would prefer, but, at the end of the evening, the scoreboard should still reflect CU’s win No. 5.

Prediction … Colorado 31, Stanford 17

2023 Predictions: Straight up: 5-1; Against the Spread: 4-2

  • Prediction: No. 17 TCU 33, Colorado 21 … Actual: Colorado 45, No. 17 TCU 42
  • Prediction: No. 22 Colorado 34, Nebraska 21 … Actual: No. 22 Colorado 36, Nebraska 14
  • Prediction: No. 18 Colorado 42, Colorado State 17 … Actual: No. 18 Colorado 43, Colorado State 35, 2OT
  • Prediction: No. 10 Oregon 40, No. 19 Colorado 17 … Actual: No. 10 Oregon 42, No. 19 Colorado 6
  • Prediction: No. 8 USC 45, Colorado 24 … Actual: No. 8 USC 48, Colorado 41
  • Prediction: Colorado 31, Arizona State 21 … Actual: Colorado 27, Arizona State 24

  • 2022 Predictions … (Straight up: 10-2; Against the Spread: 9-3) …
  • 2021 Predictions … (Straight up: 9-3; Against the Spread: 7-5) … 


7 Replies to ““T.I.P.S.” for CU v. Stanford”

  1. I think the defense has figured out Kelly’s scheme and we will begin to see a solid decline in our opponents offensive numbers. Trick plays will still cause us issues but I expect our run defense to continue its improvement. Our pass defense just got a major upgrade with Hunter back, I suspect Woods will still be out though which does hurt the back end of the defense a little bit. On offense, while I think the Stanford pass defense is hurting, I suspect they are going to drop a lot and give a light box. Sheduer will make the right call and Hank will have a big game. If needed though, Sheduer will be able to bear the load and find targets. I really want to see improvement on the o line in pass protection. I suspect we will have a new starting right guard. I hope Washington is back at right tackle. If not, we may see a different one there as well.

    I want to see Prime where his gold jacket for the “gold rush” game…..

    This is a good team, that other than Oregon plays to its opponents level. It doesn’t know how to dominate (maybe Nebraska? But it didn’t feel like domination, it felt like Nebraska just kept making stupid mistakes). but has only put its head down once. As much as I want us to come out and just crush Stanford I suspect a slow grind. Hopefully with us pulling away in the 4th.

  2. I have a hard time envisioning Stanford putting together more than one touchdown drive outside of CU turnovers. Given that hasn’t really been a problem i see us pulling away for a 38-13 win

  3. This is a “Prime” game to pad the stats deep on the CU depth chart !…just saying….going into the Bye week at 5-2…..makes me smile

  4. CU 34 Stanford 24. Buffs still need to show that they can have a complete game. I hope this is it and CU can go into the last 5 tough games with momentum. Go Buffs!!

  5. I agree with your write up Stuart, and your score is probably pretty spot on. I’d like to see CU not only get their running game going, but Shedeur to get 4 passing TDs… at least, your prediction could include 4 TDs and a FG. But I’m betting/hoping the Buffs get a rushing TD or two. Will they get both, a couple of rushing TDs and 3 or 4 passing TDs?

    A Home Coming game with a fired up crowd, let’s hope the Buffs canfeed off of that and play more like they did against the corn, getting 41 points or so while holding Stanford to 13. BUT… if the Buffs play more like they did against ASU & CSU I suspect Stuart’s total for the Buffs is closer; play like the offense did against TCU (total offense) and the corn, with better rushing than both of those games and a win by 14 or more points is in the cards.

    With Hunter back, playing half as much as his norm.

    CU 38 – Stanford 20.

  6. Hope to see Travis back, mainly on Defense. With a new hero on offense every week, maybe they will or should limit him on offense to 10-15 plays.
    Buffs-38 Stanford-23
    ATS 4-2, SU 5-1

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