Doug Pensinger - Getty Images
What will it take for the Buffaloes to pull off the Thursday night upset?
NR (Coaches Poll)
NR (Coaches Poll)
At USC. At Oregon. Stanford at home. At Arizona. Those are the Buffaloes next 4 games. If Colorado doesn't get a win tonight against the Sun Devils it's going to be a very long October and November. Crazy things happen on Thursday nights. Here's what it will take.
Call a (nearly) perfect game
Arizona State is ranked third nationally in sacks per game. Colorado is 119th nationally in sacks allowed per game. If that doesn't give you nightmares of Jordan Webb running for his life then you haven't been paying attention. Eric Bienemy and the Buffaloes offensive staff has gotten better at putting together solid game plans as this year has gone on and they have a better idea of where their players strengths and weaknesses lie. In order to beat the Sun Devils the playcalling is going to have to be significantly better. Don't go away from the run the first time it doesn't work. Don't run the slow developing routes that have been prominent in the early season. Call screens. Give the offensive line extra help. Get the ball out of Jordan Webb's hands as quickly as possible. Basically, just call a perfect game and hope that the players can execute. What's so hard about that?
Run/run with short passes
We have seen this Colorado offense have success in spurts with the run game. Sacramento State was the only game where the Buffs consistently kept the ball on the ground, but the yards have been there in every game so far. Now that Tony Jones seems to be fully healthy, it looks like the Buffaloes may be without their battering ram, Christian Powell. Let's hope this does not discourage Eric Bienemy and Jon Embree from handing the ball off. When you're not running the ball, get Tony Jones and Gerald Thomas the ball in space and with short screens and let them go to work.
Dominate the kicking battle
Darragh O'Neill and the punting game has been the one consistent positive for Colorado this year. Arizona State ranks 85th in the country with a 35.70 average. The Sun Devils kicking game has been so poor that it looks as if Alex Garoutte has lost the job to Jon Mora. New kicker on the road... Will Oliver hasn't had many opportunities this year (1-2) but we saw what he could do in 2011. If this game is close, special teams could make the difference. Speaking of, I'd say it's about time for a Kenny Crawley punt return for a touchdown, wouldn't you?
Even more so than normal, Colorado cannot let Arizona State get more than a touchdown lead. Keep the crowd in the game and they'll be loud and disruptive. The Buffaloes can't allow that Sun Devil defensive line to pin their ears back and go after Jordan Webb. We saw in Pullman what these Buffs can do with a little momentum and confidence. Imagine what that could look like at home?
What are your keys to today's game?