Prediction Time! Colorado Buffaloes vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Like I said in The Ralphie Report's first review of the Oklahoma State at Colorado Buffaloes contest Saturday night on ABC (click here for ABC coverage map, game time 6:00pm MT), the Buffs magic number is one and the game with the Pokes should probably be considered their best chance to become bowl eligible. How scary is that? CU is a 17 point underdog and that is their best chance? Considering the Buffs lack of success on the road over the past three years (2 - 15), it has to be. That is a tough prospect to swallow. One more win would do wonders for this program but it is hard to find enough rocks to turn over for how the Buffs pull one out tomorrow. Just looking at a comparison of like teams the Buffs and Cowboys have played this year should give you a clue as to why Colorado is big underdogs this week:

CU logo
                               
CU logo
L, 14 - 38 Texas L, 24 - 28
L, 17 - 24 Texas A&M W, 56 - 28
W, 28 - 24 Iowa State W, 59 - 17
L, 0 - 58
Missouri W, 28 - 23

 

But if their is any reason to not rule out the Buffs is the fact that Dan Hawkins always seems to get his team to win one game that they shouldn't. See Texas Tech in 2006 and Texas Tech & Oklahoma last year. In all of those games, the Buffs were double digit underdogs. CU has yet to have that big time double digit upset this year. Is Saturday night the game? Here is what they need to do to beat the Pokes:

CU logoProtect Hawkins

We saw last week that given the time, Hawkins played out of his mind. Last week aws the first week that you could say the QB consistently had time to throw the ball. The reasons: Hansen and the Buffs was a run first team that wore down the front four in the first half, Iowa State had a bad defensive line and the CU offensive line stepped up in key spots in the second half. This OSU defensive line is the worst in the Big 12 in getting to the quarterback. If the offensive line plays well and gives Hawkins a chance to throw against the 10th ranked pass defense in the Big 12, the Buffs can stick around.

see the rest of the "Keys to the Game" and the prediction after the jump...

CU logoMistake Free Football

The first "key to the game" only works if Hawkins makes smart decisions and doesn't turn the ball over. This week, turnovers could lead to a blow out (see Missouri). Another reason the Buffs cannot turn the ball over is the fact that the CU defense has been amazingly strong when the opposing offenses start drives at the 20 or inside their own 20. In that scenario, the Buffs have only given up 3 field goals and 3 touchdowns. Make Oklahoma State drive the field when they have the ball as the Buffs have shown they can hold their own on defense. Colorado will also need a few breaks early to stay in this one.

CU logoMix It Up

I realize that most think Hawkins should play the whole game but we have seen that show before. You know what will happen. The defense will pin their ears back and realize that Scott is the only threat to run the ball and, when he is 6 yards back at a stand still, he is not a very effective back. I still believe that Hansen is an important piece of the puzzle and needs to be mixed in just to keep the defense honest and provide a running threat. This will also free up Scott. And another thing, get Scott outside today. Let him get in space. 

CU logoMake OSU One Dimensional

By making the Pokes one dimensional, I mean stop the the Big 12's leading rusher Kendall Hunter. Make Zac Robinson beat you Saturday. I worry much more about Hunter than I do about Robinson, and with the way the CU defensive backs have played this year, I think they can contain Dez Bryant enough to slow down the Oklahoma State offense. I am excited the see the Cha'pelle Brown vs Dez Bryant matchup, in fact. Brandon Pettigrew is the X factor. The Buffs have never been able to stop the opposition's stud tight end (see Chase Coffman). Either way you look at it, Oklahoma State will probably get 28 points + but with Robinson having to air it out, the Buffs have a greater chance at turning over the Pokes.

CU logoThe Special Team HAS TO PLAY BETTER

I don't know if that is possible after what I posted earlier this week showing the Buffs special teams have cost them over 8 points per game. Oklahoma State ranks 2nd in the nation in punt returns and 19th in the nation on kickoff returns. Oklahoma State can take it to the house every time they touch the ball. Whoever kicks off will need to kick it out of the end zone. Josh Smith would help the Buffs with a couple big returns. And do the Buffs dare attempt a field goal? No, either go for it or punt. Don't let the kickers kill the momentum like they have in past games.

 

Prediction Time

I want to believe, Buffs fans but it is hard to ignore the chart that shows how much better OSU has played similar opponents. I think Oklahoma State has comparable talent to Missouri which has to scare any Buffs' fans. I am not going to put down what I think the score will be because it is depressing, so I will try to keep the mood a little better and just say, I think the Buffs will lose.Here's to hoping I am wrong!

Motivation should be there today for Colorado: Let's win one for the seniors. I would argue that there isn't a senior group across the nation who has been up against more adversity than this senior class at Colorado. Go get it for them today!

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