Kickoff from the always beautiful Folsom Field is set for 2pm MT. Those without tickets can find coverage on Pac-12 Networks. Since the Rockies are finally, mercifully done flailing at the rest of the National League, the radio call will most definitely be on 850 KOA.
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When last we met -
Woof, was this one ugly. While it took a while for Oregon State to get going, once they did, the Buffs were left, once again, looking up at a major gap on the scoreboard. In a far too common tale of talent and execution inadequacy, the Buffs eventually fell under the apple cart, losing 44-17.
|The OSU surge proved to be far too much. From: the BDC|
With the offense faltering, the defense was left to wither on the vine against the powerful combo of Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks. The pair would hook up nine times for 168 yards and two scores, with Cooks providing another one on the ground. While Colorado's defense seemed to hold for most of the first half, they were exposed and exhausted by the time they hit the break, and could no longer keep up with Oregon State. Given pause for adjustments, the fresher, more explosive OSU attack began to take effect in the second half. In total, the Beavers would score 35 unanswered, and the game was put to rest by the end of the 3rd quarter.
|Cooks was a big part of the difference.|
The Beavers in 2014 -
The 3-1 Beavers rolled through non-conference play, before failing where so many OSU squads had failed before: in the Coliseum against USC. The Trojans swarmed them, holding veteran QB Sean Mannion to probably his worst single performance as a college quarterback. Oregon State only scored one touchdown (a kickoff return), and were held to only 181 yards of total offense; an abysmal showing.
|USC was far too much for Oregon State last week|
Defensively, however, they're much better than they were. Behind a deep, veteran defensive backfield they're about 130 yards better per game in 2014. They even feature, legitimately, as one of the top-10 groups in terms of pass efficiency defense. Still, with the offense as suspect as they are, the team is susceptible to the same problems CU ran into last year in Corvallis. When the offense sputters, the 'D' is left out to dry. Case-in-point: last week's loss in Los Angeles. By their own admission, the defense wore down. Unless the offense can move the ball, repeat performances are possible.
|Without Cooks, the focus has switched to the defensive side.|
Star Players -
Even though he's not having the best of seasons, I have to start my roster features with QB Sean Mannion. The 6-5 senior from Pleasanton, CA is on the verge of setting every passing record there is to own in Corvallis, along with taking the top-spot on the Pac-12's all-time yardage list (no small feat, in this league). He is, undeniably, the star and focus of this roster, a four-year starter who has seen his name projected in lights throughout his entire career.
|Mannion has enjoyed plenty of success in his collegiate career.|
He says he's moving on from last Saturday's forgettable effort in Los Angeles, and he'll have a good chance to prove it against CU. Still, star wideout Victor Bolden may remain on the sidelines this weekend, leaving the quality of his receiving options in doubt. 6-3 junior Richard Mullaney and monster 6-7 tight end Connor Hamlett are certainly strong talents and deserving of this level, but are a noticeable step down from the dynamism of the departed Brandin Cooks or the injured Bolden.
|It'll really hurt the Beavers if Bolden isn't on the field|
On defense, the resurgence and success enjoyed this year is due to a plethora of featured seniors. Lead by linebackers Michael Doctor and DJ Alexander, the unit is leaps and bounds ahead of where they were last year, even though most of the faces are familiar. For his part, Doctor is atop the stat sheet in tackles, while adding an interception and a few pass breakups thanks to his strong coverage skills. He was granted a 5th year of eligibility from the NCAA for medical hardship, and the whole linebacking corps, now a prized treasure, is much better off for it.
|Doctor is a dynamic presence.|
The margins in this game will come down to Mannion's rebound and Colorado's offense continuing their form. If either factor tilts the way of the Black and Gold, the Buffs may finally be able to breakthrough into a statement win.
Hey, it's still Mike Riley! *yawn* Not the sexiest name in the game, Riley is at least a Pacific Northwest institution. He's been prowling the sideline in Corvallis for the better part of the last two decades, and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future. So what if the Beavers severely clashed and burned over the stretch run last season, losing their final five conference games in 2013? I just don't get the feeling that anyone at OSU feels the need to look elsewhere.
|Nothing new on the sideline in Corvallis|
My record: 4-1. Against the spread: 2-3. Optimistic/pessimistic: CU +3 pts/gm)
Line as of Wednesday @ 7pm - CU +7, O/U 57
It's important to understand that Mannion will be better this week. Last week was a fluke, even if his overall trajectory in down from a year ago. Don't expect CU to keep the Beavers off the scoreboard.
CU's chances this week will really come down to their ability to flat out-score Oregon State. That tack wasn't successful in Berkeley, but I like it better at home. The Beavers may slow Spruce, most likely holding him without a score due to a focus on his containment, but look for huge games from emerging freshmen Shay Fields and Bryce Bobo. If Sefo Liufau can find them for a few scores, CU may stay within reach long enough to keep the crowd in the game. IF Colorado gets to the 4th quarter with a mostly-full Folsom, I like their chances.
Give me CU to cover, certainly, but I'm torn on whether or not I can see them winning... the conservative side of my mind took over just now, so I'll say it's a close Colorado loss.
OSU 37 - CU 35
GO BUFFS! PROVE ME WRONG, AND POUND THE BEAVERS!