CU at Oregon: “T.I.P.S.” for the Buffs’ last trip to Autzen as a member of the Pac-12

… Related … If you prefer your predictions verbally (and from more than one voice), “CU at the Game Podcast: “T.I.P.S.” for CU at Oregon, 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 the podcast here.


The Prime Effect continues to pay huge dividends.

Which of the following is the most absurd stat about CU this fall?

  • That three of the five most watched games in the country in the first three weekends of the season have been CU games;
  • That more people watched the CU/CSU game (with a 10:20 p.m., eastern time kickoff no less) than watched top ten matchups between Alabama and Texas, and between Florida State and LSU (with the latter game played on the Sunday night of Labor Day weekend, with no competition). The Rocky Mountain Showdown, between two teams which posted a combined record of 4-20 in 2022, was the 5th-most watched ESPN college football game in ESPN’s history;
  • That CU announced this week that the November home game against Arizona has sold out, meaning that all six home games this fall are now sellouts, the first time in school history the Buffs have sold out every home game in a season.

Not bad for a team which is a 20.5-point road underdog this weekend.

The Buffs will again attract a large audience, as the Colorado game at Oregon will be nationally televised by ABC (1:30 p.m., MT). There is some competition in that time slot this weekend, with two other games involving ranked teams – No. 22 UCLA at No. 11 Utah, and No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 13 Alabama – being played at the same time.

But if the Buffs can attract 9.3 million for a game which ended at 2:25 a.m., eastern time on Sunday morning … Anyone want to bet there won’t be a large crowd for No. 19 Colorado at No. 10 Oregon?

Can the Buffs sustain their success, or will this be the weekend that Coach Prime will finally be put in his place?

Let’s find out …


This Week’s “T.I.P.S” for No. 19 CU at No. 10 Oregon – Saturday, 1:30 p.m., MT, ABC

T – Talent

For the first time this season, the quarterback on the other side of the field will – arguably – have has much talent as does the Colorado quarterback. Oregon’s Bo Nix may not have posted the same gaudy numbers as Shedeur Sanders, but they are nonetheless impressive. Nix has thrown for 893 yards, completing 77.6% of his passes, with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Shedeur, meanwhile, has 1,251 passing yards and a 78.7% completion rate, with 10 touchdowns and one interception.

One significant difference, though, which speaks to the overall effectiveness of the respective offenses … Shedeur Sanders has been sacked 15 times in three games, while Bo Nix has only been sacked once.

Both teams have an assortment of wideouts for their quarterbacks to choose from. Oregon has three wide receivers with over ten receptions and at least two touchdown receptions. CU’s defense will need to key on Tony Franklin (17 receptions for 292 yards and three touchdowns), Gary Bryant, Jr. (11 receptions for 159 yards and two scores), and Tez Johnson (11 receptions for 153 and three touchdowns).

But … also watch for running back Bucky Irving. In addition to leading the team in rushing (27 carries for 216 yards and three touchdowns), Irving has been a target out of the backfield, with 12 catches for 95 yards.

As a result of all of this talent … and with the assistance of playing FCS Portland State (an 81-7 final) and a hapless Hawai’i team, 55-10 (Hawai’i is 1-3, with it’s only win coming against Albany, and that game was a one score contest in the fourth quarter) … it’s not a surprise that Oregon is fourth in the nation in total offense (579.7 yards/game) and second in the nation in scoring offense (58.0 points/game).

(Side note … no rest for the weary. CU’s next opponent, USC, is first in the nation in scoring and third in total offense).

The Oregon defense is the best CU has faced to date. The Ducks are currently in the top 35 in the nation in both scoring defense and total defense. Oregon features two All Pac-12 performers on defense … defensive lineman Brandon Dorlus and defensive back Evan Williams. The Duck defense hasn’t been great at generating sacks (18 all of last year; six so far this fall), which is some good news for a CU offensive line which is 128th in the nation in sacks allowed (16 allowed in the first three games of 2023).

Some more good news … Oregon run defense is only average (70th in the nation, giving up 127 yards/game). Unfortunately, as CU fans are all too aware, the Buff rushing attack is anemic (127th in the country, going for only 61 yards/game, though transfer Alton McCaskhill is slated to see his first action of the season this weekend).

Bottom line … Oregon is very, very good at scoring, and has talented players to take advantage of CU’s depleted secondary (Travis Hunter out for several weeks; Carter Stoutmire didn’t play against Colorado State). Coach Prime was asked about freshman phenom Cormani McClain and his availability, but Sanders said McClain is still not ready. The Buffs will defend the Ducks with a “cornerbacks by committee” approach.

Not that reassuring.


I – Intangibles

Can Coach Prime and the CU coaching staff play the disrespect card for a fourth consecutive week?

Dan Lanning, who is in his second year as the Oregon head coach, was asked about Colorado’s move to the Big 12 during the Ducks’ media day ahead of fall camp in late July. Instead of taking the Pac-12 party line, Lanning took a major shot at the Colorado.

“Not a big reaction. I’m trying to remember what they won to affect this conference and I don’t remember,” Lanning told reporters who asked for his thoughts on the move. “Do you remember them winning anything? I don’t remember them winning anything.”

Neither coach has made a point of emphasizing the slight so far this week, but you can bet your bottom dollar that if the Buffs pull off the upset, Coach Prime will make reference to the comment in his post-game remarks.

Win one for the Gipper? … As Shilo Sanders mentioned in his meeting with the press on Tuesday, the loss of Travis Hunter is like losing two players. Hunter has not only graded out (by Pro Football Focus) as CU’s best defensive player, he has also graded out as CU’s third-best offensive player (behind only Shedeur Sanders and offensive lineman Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan).

Coach Prime and his son emphasized that the team is prepared to go on without their star player, but that is easier said than done. The Buffs are already at a talent disadvantage against a top ten team on the road … but losing Hunter makes it all the more difficult to envision an upset.

With a week to prepare to play without Hunter, the CU coaching staff should be able to devise a strategy to maximize the available talent.

Will it be enough?

Meanwhile, in Eugene … You think the Rams wanted to drop the Buffs down a peg?

Here’s guessing that the Ducks would love to have the title of the team which brought down Coach Prime’s Buffs. Oregon has launched a Heisman trophy campaign for Bo Nix, complete with a huge billboard in New York City (remember the “Joey Heisman” campaign in 2001 for Joey Harrington? Well, Nike U is trying to get America behind a “Bo Heisman” campaign).

Problem is, no one is paying attention. Shedeur Sanders is being featured by national publications almost daily, and has been interviewed by ESPN and Fox so many times he may as well have his own segment.

Would Oregon coach Dan Lanning like to have his quarterback have a stellar game, and have Shedeur Sanders spend much of Saturday afternoon on his back?

Here’s guessing that if Lanning’s Ducks are up big in the fourth quarter, he won’t be taking his foot off the gas.


P – Preparation/Schedule

Colorado has played three difficult games; Oregon has played one.

In game two, after playing a scrimmage against Portland State (81-7 final), the Ducks played Texas Tech in Lubbock. Oregon faced two fourth quarter deficits before rallying for a 38-30 win (The Red Raiders were near midfield, trailing 31-30 in the final minute, before a pick six gave the Ducks the eight-point victory).

The Buffs have played in a shoot out (v. TCU), a slugfest wherein the Buffs wore down a less talented opponent (v. Nebraska) and a true slugfest against an inspired, we’ll-do-whatever-it-takes-to-win opponent in Colorado State.

Will the wars the Buffs have gone through to get to 3-0 give them an advantage against an Oregon team which has been able to sleepwalk through two of their first three games?

Probably not, but it will give the Buffs some measure of confidence to keep going when things get tough in Eugene.

“Resiliency” has been a word Coach Prime has used often to describe his Buffs so far this season … the Buffs will likely need that trait again this weekend.

Can’t get to the Big 12 fast enough … In the current Associated Press Top 25 poll, there are eight Pac-12 teams. Meanwhile, if you look at how the Big 12 will be constituted in 2024, the number of teams from the 2024 Big 12 which are currently ranked in the Top 25 is … two (Utah and Colorado).

With that many landmines in the Pac-12 conference, few teams will have an easy slate. Still, it seems like the conference went out of their way to get as much out of Coach Prime as possible … before the Buffs faded from the national consciousness with assumed losses to quality opponents. Pitting the Buffs against Oregon and USC in their first two games seems like overkill for a team which was already facing a daunting non-conference schedule.

Meanwhile, after Oregon padded stats against the likes of Portland State and Hawai’i, the Pac-12 eased the Ducks into conference play against Colorado (11th in the Pac-12 media preseason poll) and Stanford (voted 12th) … before a bye week before the showdown against Washington.

Other conferences have a history of setting up their top teams with schedules giving them the best chance at success (see the SEC’s eight-game conference schedule, with layup non-conference games the weekend before Thanksgiving … For example, Alabama and Auburn will tune up for the Iron Bowl with games against Chattanooga and New Mexico State). The Pac-12, meanwhile, hasn’t been as gracious. This year, though, the Pac-12 seems to have gone out of its way to assist the teams with the perceived best chances at a College Football Playoff bid (Oregon and Washington have byes before playing each other; USC has a bye week the weekend before the Pac-12 title game).

With its scheduling, the Pac-12 has set CU up to fail …

We’ll see if the Buffs are up to the challenge.


S – Statistics 

Last year, this section was labeled the “car accident section” – You know you should look away, but you just can’t. After the first three games of the 2023 season, the Buffs have gotten at least one half of the stats ledger improved. The defense? Still some work to do …

Stats to make you smile … 

  • For CU on offense … The Buffs are 23rd in the nation in total offense (479.0 yards/game) … 2nd in the nation in passing offense (418.0 yards/game) … and … tied for 15th in scoring offense (41.3 points/game)
  • For CU on defense …The Buffs are tied for 3rd in the nation in interceptions (with 6) … and … tied for 1st in the nation in turnovers gained (with 10)
  • For Oregon on offense … Not much to go on here, but the Ducks are 132nd in the nation in penalties on offense … and … 131st in penalty yards against the offense;
  • For Oregon on defense … The Ducks are susceptible to the passing game, at least in terms of numbers. Opponents through the first three games are completing 63% of their passes against the Oregon defense (89th in the nation).

Stats to make you cringe … 

  • For CU on offense … The Buffs are 127th in the nation of rushing offense (61.0 yards/game) … and … are 128th in the nation – in sacks allowed (5.3/game);
  • For CU on defense … The Buffs are 122nd in the nation in total defense (460.3 yards/game), are 102nd in the nation in scoring defense (30.3 points/game) … and … 119th in the nation in rushing defense (195.3 yards/game)
  • For Oregon on offense … The Ducks are fourth in the nation in total offense (579.7 yards/game) … and … second in the nation in scoring offense (58.0 points/game);
  • For Oregon on defense … The Ducks are 29th in third down defense (.317) … 15th in the nation in pass defense (158.7 yards/game) … and … 31st in scoring defense (15.67 points/game).

Stat to watch (i.e, the stat which will play a role in deciding the game)Passing Yards … The Buffs haven’t been able to muster a rushing attack, and will have to rely on success through the air to remain competitive. The irresistible force? CU is 2nd in the nation in passing offense. The immovable object? Oregon is 15th in the nation in passing defense. If the Ducks are able to shut down the Buff passing game, and get to Shedeur Sanders … it will be a long afternoon for the Buff Nation.


Prediction … 

Buff fans have been through a great deal over the past 15 years or so. There has been only one really successful season since CU switched conferences, that being 2016. That year, the Buffs won the South division, and won ten games.

In 2016, the Buffs went to Autzen and upset the Ducks, 41-38 … CU’s only win against Oregon as a member of the Pac-12.

Not coincidentally, in 2016, Oregon finished 4-8 … Oregon’s only losing season since the formation of the Pac-12.

This will not be a down year for the Ducks. Oregon is 3-0, and while the competition hasn’t been top flight, no one is believing that the Ducks will not be competing with Washington, USC and Utah for the Pac-12 title.

Are the Buffs better? Undeniably so.

Are the Buffs better than the Ducks? Not yet.

Perhaps I remain to jaded when it comes to this game. I was at the Oregon game in 2012 game, CU’s first trip to Autzen since 1986. The Ducks were 7-0 and were the 4th-ranked team in the country. The Buffs were 1-6, and were coming off of losses to Arizona State (51-17) and USC (50-6).

The outcome of the game was not in question. My hope? That the Buffs could keep the Ducks from scoring in say, 90 seconds of game clock. Well, they made it, but just barely. It took Oregon five plays and 1:47 of game clock to score … on their way to a 70-14 rout (28-0 after the first quarter; 56-0 at halftime).

That was a very long afternoon.

This game will not be that bad, but the issues along both of CU’s lines are being exploited, and injuries are exposing some depth issues.

While some pundits will point to this game as proof that the Prime Experiment is not going to be a success.

What those pundits don’t really understand … it’s already a success.

There are more wins on CU’s 2023 schedule.

Just not this weekend.

Prediction … No. 10 Oregon 40, No. 19 Colorado 17

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

  • 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

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


9 Replies to ““T.I.P.S.” for No. 19 CU at No. 10 Oregon”

  1. The O line and defense won’t be able to do against O what they haven’t been able to do yet. This will be the week the hype dies down. I just don’t see this going well. 51-17 OR. I also was SURE CU would destroy CSU. May I be horribly wrong again. That’s why they play the game and predictions count for nothing. Go buffs.

  2. People are giving Oregon a lot of credit because it is Oregon, but who have they played? Portland State, Tech and Hawaii. They barely beat TT, and the other teams don’t have near the talent. I am all in on taking CU + 21. Oregons stats have been padded by who they have played so far.

  3. Oregon has struggled in the past against physical teams ( ex: Utah). However, CU O and D lines will not be physical enough this season to handle Top 10 opponents. Ore 49 CU 24.

  4. I hope to see 2 things this week. I want to see a running game with at least 100- 125 yards. That’s vital. And I would like to see the Buffs remain within shouting distance of Oregon going into the 4th quarter. I would consider that a very decent performance.

  5. “As a result of all of this talent … and with the assistance of playing FCS Portland State (an 81-7 final) and a hapless Hawai’i team, 55-10 (Hawai’i is 1-3, with it’s only win coming against Albany, and that game was a one score contest in the fourth quarter)”

    One could argue that the Buffs, would have top of the nation offensive stats too if they played those two & TTU. The Ducks are loaded and have depth, but have they been really tested? Nix’s hasn’t had to play in the fourth quarter as much as Shedeur so of course Shedeur’s number are higher in the 4th.

    Intangibles: One thing, while the ducks would love to be the first to knock off Prime’s Buffs, I don’t think they will come out “swinging” & playing dirty the way CSU did, hopefully that translate in the Buffs playing better too.

    “Would Oregon coach Dan Lanning like to have his quarterback have a stellar game, and have Shedeur Sanders spend much of Saturday afternoon on his back?”

    YES! agree.

    “Here’s guessing that if Lanning’s Ducks are up big in the fourth quarter, he won’t be taking his foot off the gas.”

    YES! agree.

    Can the Buffs be more like TTU, than the other two teams the ducks played? I think yes.

    Can CU keep up and win? Maaybee?

    No one thought a young Montez could win either in Auzten either.

    I give CU a 35% chance to win, compared to espn’s 6.1%.

    So, I guess I’m giving the Buffs a 40% chance that they lose by less than the spread, and a 25% chance they lose by more than the spread. It can happen, but based on TTU, I’m hoping the Buffs can keep it within <20.

  6. Oregon beating the spread Stuart?
    I will take this one degree of separation further and mention Wyoming beat TT too.
    I’m not expecting a win either but If the coaches can make some adjustments to hide or compensate for our weakness and confuse the ducks it might be a closer game. Doesnt seem like much as changed in the way of schemes on O and D yet. Hopefully this will be the game when the ducks see some new Buff wrinkles.

  7. Ufffff, This is a tough one, but have to go head over Heart. No pass protection, porous defense, and it just happens to be Bo Nix this week….
    Ducks-48 Buffs-27
    ATS 2-1 SU 2-1

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