Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, October 22, 2015

2015 CU vs Oregon State Football Preview

The Buffs really need this one.  They won't find another opponent as beatable as Oregon State the rest of the way, and, even on the road, look to have enough to snap their 14-game in-conference losing streak... at least on paper.  If CU can't convert this eight-foot putt, they're in trouble the rest of the way, and their coach could be in some seriously hot water.  Best to make life easy on all of us, and get it done.


Hype Music for the Week: "Luck be a Lady" by Frank Sinatra

I waned something Vegas-ish, as I write this from the middle of Bill Walton's 'peaceful oasis in the heart of the Mojave.'  To my ears, 'Viva Las Vegas' is too cliché, so to hell with that.  Maybe Ol' Blue Eyes singing about luck and escorts is just as cliché, but at least it's Frank. He's more Vegas than Elvis could ever hope to be -- hell he's actually in the Gaming Hall of Fame. Enjoy!


Kickoff from Reser Stadium in Corvallis, OR is set for 8:30pm tomorrow night.  Television coverage can be found on Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call on 850 KOA.  Bets can be taken at the casino's sport book... oh right, that's only here in Las Vegas.  Well, make due with what ya got.

Click below for the preview...

When last we met - 

If you thought last weekend's game against Arizona was a bad beat, then turn your hymnal back to the October '14 tilt with Oregon State at Folsom Field and despair. Colorado didn't help their cause with a terrible start, as their first three drives went punt, turnover on downs, interception, allowing the Beavers to build a 14-0 lead before the first counter-punch was thrown.  However, the counter punch did come, and CU reeled off back-to-back 75-yard touchdown drives -- throw in another score before half and the Buffs took a lead into the break for a third consecutive game.  Put the champagne on ice, right?
Close, but no cigar for Colorado.  From: the BDC
Not so fast, my friend, #TheScript still has to be observed.  You see, the second half, per the usual, would see Oregon State make some adjustments, and begin to shred the Colorado 'D.'  For four straight possessions, and with a little help from some suspect officiating, the Beavers marched down the field.  They would clip off 260 yards and 17 points in only 34 plays to wrest control of the game back to the west sideline.  By the time they plunged into the endzone for their final points of the game, they had a 12 point lead with just over five minutes to go.

The Buffs did show a little late life, responding with a 75-yard scoring drive in only eight plays and two minutes to give themselves a flicker of hope. That flicker would turn into a bonfire after a terrible special teams blunder from the Beavers dumped them deep inside their own territory.  With nothing left but to run some clock and punt, Colorado got the ball back with only 44 yards to gain and a-buck-42 to do it in. But it was not to be, however, as QB Sefo Liufau would miss on three of four attempts to end the threat. Ballgame: 36-31, Oregon State.  #TheScipt at it finest.
Give 'em some credit, the Buffs never gave in.  From the BDC
Looking back, it's a sickening thought to see the similarities between that loss and most of the others from this run.  Slow starts, competent drives to halftime, the other team making good adjustments in the second half, and the Buffs failing to respond.  The narrative just goes on and on and on and on.  I want to say #TheScript is ready for a revision this weekend in the return game in Corvallis, but I just don't know...

The Beavers in 2015 - 

Their NCAA statistical profile can be found here.

Let's start off with this: the Oregon State Beavers are not a good football team.  At 2-4 on the year, they come in with only one win against a FBS opponent- a 35-21 win over San Jose State, a game they trailed at half - and have lost their other five in-subdivision games by an average of 26 points.  Last weekend they got whupped by 21 at Washington State, at one point trailing 45-17 in the 4th quarter.  That loss marked their ninth conference loss in ten tries, a streak only broken up by that win in Boulder mentioned above.  By all measures they are the worst team in the Pac-12 North, and have a decent claim for being the worst team in the whole conference (a claim that will be settled this weekend). Feel free to use the word 'trainwreck' when speaking of them.
Your high point is a win over a shitty Mountain West team?  Been there, bro.  Been there.  From: The Columbian
Their greatest sin, and a mortal one at that in the high-flying Pac-12, is that they're beyond awful offensively. 332 yards per game is good for 114th nationally and by far the worst in the league (over 200 yards per game worse than league leader Arizona).  It boils down to the Beavs averaging only a little over 21 points per (against a few mediocre defenses, too), which means they simply cannot keep up with the teams out West. If you can't score points, you're going to get left behind out here, a lesson these guys are learning all too well.

OSU's offensive Achilles heel is their passing game, which doesn't even net them 150 yards per game.  They boast one of the single worst passing efficiencies in all of football, and have thrown only one more TD (six) then interception on the year (five).  While they do run it all right, and use a mobile-QB scheme to get there, the lack of any threat through the air, without putting up the numbers of a dedicated option team on the ground, has the Beavers behind the 8-ball from the second they run out from the tunnel.  No wonder high-octane teams like WSU and Arizona blew through them without much resistance over the last few weeks.
Their defense isn't nearly as bad as their offense, but OSC has still been gashed in recent weeks. From:
Defensively, the top-line numbers aren't as bad as they could/should be.  Despite the blowouts, they've done a good job against the pass (216 yards per game, 59th nationally), and have caused a fair number of turnovers (10 total).  While they're bottom of the barrel in terms of sacks and tackles for loss, this unit could be effective if only their offense wasn't so anemic.  As it is, it's only good enough to keep the losses from reaching Embree-like proportions.

Star Players - 

As you would expect from an offense that is all sixes-and-sevens, QB play is an issue.  It started in camp where redshirt freshman Marcus McMaryion butted his head into what was supposed to be a two-way battle for the starting job between true freshman Seth Collins and another redshirt frosh Nick Mitchell.  If the adage of 'if you have two quarterbacks, then you have none' holds true, then what happens if you have three? Collins eventually won out, with Mitchell pushing for more time as disappointing results have piled, but the freshman tussle for snaps couldn't have helped things.
Collins has hops, I'll give him that. From: Pacific Takes
The numbers bear this out, as Collins has been particularly ineffective while throwing this fall.  He has scrambled and read-optioned his way to some strong rushing numbers (90 attempts for 559 yards and five scores- leading rusher on the team), but the overall offense is stuck in neutral, and they've all but forsaken dangerous receiving targets like Victor Bolden.  The diminutive junior wide-out from California only has 23 catches for 188 yards on the season, which is just criminal.  Not all on Collins, and the coaching staff swears that Victor is still 'heavily involved in the game plan every week,' but if you're going to be taking losses like this, you might as well do it while getting your best players the damn ball.

Won't somebody, please, get Victor Bolden the damn ball?  From:
On the ground, Collins is the biggest threat, scampering around to some big plays (though it does open him up to a number of hits that you'd rather not see a QB take).  Looking back to what UofA QB Jerrard Randle did to the Buffs once he got into the game, I can't help but be a little concerned when I see another speedy, run-first player taking snaps for the opponent.  He can even play off of veteran runner Storm Woods, who has been gashing Pac-12 defenses for years, only adding to the concern.  While Woods is fighting a few injuries this fall, he's still capable of elite performances.  With the passing game almost non-existent, the preferred approach seems to be loading up the box to keep these two quiet.  If OSU gets off a few passes into CU's veteran secondary, so be it, but letting them run unabated, like Arizona did in the 4th Quarter last week, is only a recipe for disaster.

On defense, OSU is shuffling their secondary like a deck of cards.  They tried nine different players and a myriad of combinations across all five standard positions against Washington State (a pass-first, second, third, and fourth team) last weekend to no avail.  Possibly less of a focus this week, as CU isn't going to start running Mike Leach's raid attack any time soon, I still have no idea who's going to see the majority of action. I would guess that Dwayne Williams and Devin Chappell will probably gets second looks after last week, Treston Decoud should return to the starting lineup, and safety Justin Strong is a constant, but, after that, it's a mystery.
Mageo is their best on defense. From:
Up front, things are a little more stable.  Junior linebacker Rommel Mageo could be a star in the making (two sacks and two picks on the year), and pairs well with fellow junior Caleb Saulo.  They've combined for 87 tackles this season, and are very active in pass coverage (although not in terms of attacking the quarterback).  On the line, big senior DT Kyle Peko does a good job eating up blockers so that the line backs can make stops. He's listed as 6-1, 308 lbs, and is a bear to handle.

Coaching - 

This is one of the more curious coaching situations in all of college football.   The departed Mike Riley - who I though was an Oregon State lifer, having been there off and on since the 90s - up and bolted for Nebraska of all places (how and why that came to be is beyond me), leaving the Beavers to scramble for a head coach.  They turned their eyes to Gary Andersen, then the Wisconsin head coach, and a former hot coaching name from his days at Utah State.  If Riley's departure for Lincoln was confusing, Andersen's defection from Madison was doubly so, as being head Badger seemed very desirous, and Oregon State is a relative backwater (even with the influx of Pac-12 media money). Must've been something Barry Alvarez said...
How the hell did that happen?  From:
Regardless, Andersen has not started his tenure in Corvallis off on the right foot.  The team looks lost on offense, and, outside of a few possessions at the tail end of that Washington State game, they have been far from competitive in conference play.  That QB situation is an absolute mess, too. If you're going to go with youth and inexperience at such a key position (all three options in camp were freshmen... what, no available transfers?), wouldn't it have been wise to just hand one of them the keys and shut down the debate?  A triple-QB controversy, among three freshman no less, and with a new coaching staff in town, was a disaster waiting to happen.

In response to the struggles, Andersen has sought out the advise of... Gary Crowton?  Really?  As a Bears fan, I can't help but laugh here, as Crowton was one of the most pathetic OC's in Chicago's recent history, a footnote on the stain that was the Dick Jauron era.  Yeesh, Gary's in trouble if he's digging that deep in the barrel.

Prediction - 

My 2015 record: 6-1. Against the spread: 4-2. Optimistic/pessimistic: CU +0.67 pts/gm
Line as of Wednesday @ 7pm - CU +2.5, O/U 59

It all comes down to what the Buffs can get on offense.  If it's anything worth mentioning, they're going to win.  Bash Sefo all you want, but he can move the football, and even without his two flashiest weapons (Michael Adkins and Shay Fields), I'll say he gets CU in the endzone enough times to keep the toothless Beavers at bay.

Give me the Buffs outright on the road.  You heard me.

CU 32 - OSU 20


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