Keys to the Game - Colorado Buffaloes vs. California Golden Bears

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 04: Quarterback Pete Thomas #4 of the Colorado State Rams is sacked by linebacker David Bakhtiari #59 of the Colorado Buffaloes during the the Rocky Mountain Showdown at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 4 2010 in Denver Colorado. Colorado was awarded the Centenial Trophy after they defeated Colorado State 24-3. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Haven't been this excited for a college football weekend in a long, long time. Great games all around and we are only in week 2 of the season. Throw in a high profile out of conference game for the Buffs, I can't wait.

Today is one of those games where we get to see what Colorado is made of. Over the last few years, we have gotten hyped up about the team only to be let down. Are the 2010 Colorado Buffaloes different? We will find out today which is one of the beauties of sports. In a little over 8 hours, we will have a pretty good idea about our season.

On to the keys of the game...

Colorado_mediumLimit the Big Play

I see Cal in their blue and yellow uniforms. I remember Toledo last year in their blue and yellow uniforms. I get nightmares. Big plays allowed killed the Buffs last season and nothing with rattle this team on the road more than giving up an early 70 yard touchdown. I hope Colorado is aggressive today but at the right time and the right place defensively. David Gerhardt pointed out yesterday in his preview that S Ray Polk needs to have a big game. He is absolutely right. Polk is the last man of defense and his rap has been he has the tendency to give up the big play. Today, he can't if CU wants to come home victorious.

Hopefully, Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown team up to show freshman WR Keenan Allen that life is a little tougher than playing UC Davis every week. Matchup of the day - WR Keenan Allen/WR Marvin Jones vs CB Jalil Brown/Jimmy Smith...should be special.

Colorado_mediumOutplay Their Offensive Line

All week, we have heard from California Golden Blogs, the Cal blog on SBNation.com, that the offensive line might be the weak link of the team. All year, we have said if the three guys not named Ryan Miller and Nate Solder play solid, this offense could be much improved. The Buffs "other three" need to outplay the Cal linemen today. Win the trenches, win the game.

If the Buffs can get the running game going early, make the Cal linebackers and defensive ends respect the run, I love CUs chances.

Colorado_mediumEnergy, Energy, Energy

1,050...that is the number of days since the Buffs last road win in October of 2007 against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Supposedly 10K CU fans made the trip to Berkeley. Now is the time for Colorado to end the road struggles. High profile win against a team that has been very successful in the conference CU will hopefully play in next year. Now is the time.

Before the season started when Scotty McKnight, Cody Hawkins, Nate Solder and Jalil Brown were selected as captains, we said if they only had one duty this year, it was to get this team prepared mentally on the road. The success of these captains will be determined by their ability to motivate.

Colorado_mediumRattle Riley

California Golden Blogs gave us the secret today to slowing down the Cal offense:

If Riley is under constant pressure, he is prone to getting rattled. Oddly enough, he is a good passer while on the run, but if he really starts feeling the pressure (getting hit/sacked) he might lose his composure. Last year he was prone to making consecutive mistakes. If he was intercepted, for example, he would become more cautious. This would lead him to hold have a slight bit of hesitation when making his passes, something which often proved to be dangerous if the O-line was letting pressure collapse on him, as his hesitation sometimes turned an incompletion into a sack. Another reason Riley performs rather poorly under heavy pressure is his tendency to fumble the ball when he's on the run.

Today would be a great day for guys like Nick Kasa and Forrest West to break out.

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