Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: Deja Vu All Over Again

I'm headed off to Vegas this weekend.  A good friend and a GREAT Buff, @BuffOfSpades, is getting hitched, and we're going to get weird in celebration.  Beyond just the pleasantries of his nuptials, though, that also means I'll finally get to put my money where my mouth is with my prediction for the Oregon State game ('cause, of course, I'd never illegally gamble on sports).  That action'll spice up the reception real nice.

Seriously, though, congrats to Eric and Melinda - the best Buff fans in all of Utah, and the best friends a guy could have.  I wish you both nothing but the best!


I only have two topics for you in the bag today, as I prepare to slip out of town.  After the jump, I'm wrapping up the loss to Arizona, and looking ahead to future opponents.

Click below for the bag...

The record keeps skipping - 

Stop me if you've heard this one before.  The Colorado Buffaloes, at home, had a visiting Pac-12 opponent on the ropes, seemingly in position to land the knockout blow to claim a program building win.  Instead, however, an inability to move the ball consistently in the second half, and a corresponding offensive adjustment from the opponent, turned the tide against CU in the 4th quarter, and the potential win evaporated into yet another discouraging loss.
Even the return of the marshmallows to Folsom couldn't get the Buffs a win.
Oh, you have heard that one before?  Well, of course you have, because it's the rough outline of every home game narrative of the past two seasons.  The Buffs once had numerous opportunities to claim victory in Saturday's Homecoming affair against Arizona, but couldn't close thanks to a disastrous 4th quarter.  The final - 38-31 - just another in a long run of missed opportunities.  It's deja vu all over again.

You could almost bring yourself to believe in this one, if you were unaware of #TheScript.  Homecoming, night game at Folsom, a Mike MacIntyre guarantee, the return of the marshmallows... it seemed as if the stars were aligning for it to be CU's breakthrough moment. The team even played well throughout the first half, responding to an early, heavy body blow from the Wildcats to tie it up heading into halftime. But, as I said last week, this program isn't just going to back into a big conference win, they're going to have to claim it with authority.  Which is why, only up a single score after an early 3rd quarter touchdown, I began to worry as the Buffs continually came up empty against the reeling Arizona defense.  They would punt on each of their next five possessions, only gaining 50 yards on 22 plays in the process. This left the back door swinging wildly open for the Arizona offense - one of the 10 best in the country, mind you - to come barging in and steal the game.  The eye-rolling predictability of the oncoming disaster is implied, but nonetheless present.
Randall's appearance turned the tide for good. From: the Daily Wildcat
Into the 4th quarter, and pinned up against their own goal line, the Wildcats swapped out ineffective QB Anu Solomon for speedy backup Jerrard Randall.  This changed the game completely, putting the aggressive CU defense back on their heels, and opening back up the holes in the running game back up for Randall and running backs like Jared Baker.  As the Colorado offense continued to sputter, all the momentum was lost on the east sideline, and 'Zona quickly racked up 21 unanswered points. Game. Set. Match.

The Bulle(i)t points -

  • Colorado gave up 616 yards on 84 plays, 213 of which came in the 4th quarter.  Arizona's switch to Randle under center was the decisive moment, as, with a shaky Solomon running the ship, the Buffs had the Wildcats rattled until then.  It took guts for RichRod to switch up his slingers, but going to the run-first Randle must've been like returning to home cooking for a read-spread guy like Rodgriguez.
  • While nothing close to their opponent's offensive output, I though the Colorado offense played well... for the most part.  The much maligned Sefo Liufau played a good game, and accounted for 339 passing yards on 43 attempts and four total touchdowns (two rushing).  His two scores on QB draws were examples of a great call and great execution.  It wasn't Sefo's fault that the team lost Saturday.
  • Shay Fields was massive. Eight grabs for 168 yards and two touchdowns (including a 72-yard thunderbolt) is big enough, but the timing of each of his scoring touches caught my eye, as well.  Each time, they came as CU was trying to get back in the game, and the defense was expecting passes. Unfortunately, he suffered a high ankle sprain on his final catch of the night, and will probably be out for a bit.
  • In his first action as a collegian, freshman line backer Grant Watanabe impressed, recording nine total tackes and a sack.  You might want to get used to this kid, as we'll be seeing a lot of him with Addison Gillam confirmed out for the season. Kenneth Olugbode should be back this week, however, helping out the beleaguered inside linebackers.
  • Alumni band nuggets: In case you were wondering, tubas are very heavy instruments, and the carrying of them is not meant for the feeble or those over the age of 30... The band still hates red... The beret's are just as awkward up close as they are from a distance... High tempo offenses have completely changed the pace of play for the band, and not in a good way...  The spirit and energy put forth from that group, in spite of the losing, continues to amaze -- they are special, special people.

Upcoming schedule update - 

Washington State 52 - Oregon State 31 -

I continue to be intrigued by whatever it is that Mike Leach is brewing out in Pullman, but, with a trip to Corvallis looming, I'll keep this focused primarily on the Beavers.  OSU simply got shredded this weekend, quickly falling behind 14-0, 24-3, and, eventually, 45-17 in a first half completely dominated by the Cougars. State allowed 323 yards of offense and six touchdowns through those first 30 minutes of play, leading to a total of 31 points in the second quarter alone.  You don't usually see teams struggle like this against Washington State, at least recently, and it's an impressively worrying sign that this Beaver team is not taking well to the first year of head coach Gary Andersen's tenure.
Oregon State has been getting man-handled of late.  From:
A lone bright spot from OSU for the weekend was dual-threat QB Seth Collins, who ran for 139 yards on 15 carries (two sacks included).  But, as you might guess with the scoreline, as strong as he was on the ground, Collins struggled through the air, handing out two picks against only one touchdown.  Overall, the Beavers have now lost nine of their last ten Pac-12 games, and look to be about as lost in-conference as CU does.  The game Saturday is essentially, then, for the Pac-12 basement.  Get hype!

Stanford 56 - UCLA 35 -

Anyone remember when UCLA was a top-10 team and an outside contender for the College Football Playoff? No? Well, I'm not all surprised that people have forgotten how well-regarded this team was just over a month ago considering how poorly they are playing now.  Friday night against Stanford they were never close, surrendering 310 yards of grind-it-out rushing en route to being down 56-20 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Now, with two ugly losses in as many games, they've dropped completely out of the AP top-25, and are in desperate need a strong look in the eye.
McCaffrey is about to skyrocket up some future draft boards.  From: the LA Times
The Cardinal, on the other hand, look to be a sure-fire lock for the Pac-12 North crown.  They've already won three of four against the vaunted South, and have their three biggest in-conference games remaining at home (vs Washington, Oregon, and Cal).  Qualitatively, they look excellent, and I can't help but wonder how David Shaw continues to beat all these spread teams senseless by playing good, old fashioned football (*cough*).  For his part, Christian McCaffrey, a local Colorado product from Valor, is starting to blossom as a bona fide star.  He put up 243 yards and four scores on 25 touches.  McCaffrey, along with his Cardinal teammates, are going to absolutely shred the Buffs' defense next month.

Notre Dame 41 - USC 31 - 

Over in the soap opera that is the USC camp, they managed to rally behind interim head coach Clay Helton, and make a game of it in South Bend against the Irish.  They were tied at halftime, took a lead with them in the 4th quarter, and seemed to be in a position to win in a very hostile environment.  But, in Colorado-like fashion, the Trojans collapsed in the final frame, allowing 17-unanswered points to a surging Notre Dame squad.
Looking slightly more competent, USC still struggled when it mattered most.  From: the LA Times.
In many respects, the Trojans looked back to being themselves this weekend.  They put up 440 yards of passing - 139 of which went to JuJu Smith-Schuster- and generally looked to have their shit in order.  But, how much of what you saw in Indiana can you really trust?  Regardless of who is at the helm, USC has been a schizoid program for so long that I rarely take anything they put on paper seriously anymore.  Given this, I find it hard to reconcile the fact that the inconsistent Trojans are favored over the top-3 Utah Utes this weekend. I know it's not the way Vegas works, but Utah seems like the much better, consistent team this season, and, even in Los Angeles, I would've assumed the Utes would be favored.  Regardless, this is a measuring stick game for each side, and one that I will be loathe to miss Saturday afternoon.

Happy Tuesday!

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