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Colorado Buffaloes vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys: A Statistical Look

The magic number is one for the Buffs. One win and the Buffs are bowling. One win against either Oklahoma State this Saturday or Nebraska the day after Thanksgiving would be a huge step in the right direction. The road will be tough as CU won't be favored in either game. The scary thing is that CU probably has a better chance this weekend than against Nebraska. Yes, it doesn't make sense off the cuff but since Dan Hawkins took over the Colorado program about three years ago, he has only won on the road twice. This year the Buffs have been outscored 151 to 52 on the road and have given up an average of 38 points/game. Knowing this, doesn't that loss to A&M really sting now? Either way, winning either of these next two games is going to be a tall order.

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National Conf Actual Category Actual Conf National
Rank Rank Rank Rank
78 11 131.9 Rushing Offense 264.8 1 6
82 11 190.8 Passing Offense 232.8 9 39
97 12 322.7 Total Offense 497.6 4 7
104 12 19.4 Scoring Offense 42.8 5 6
78 9 159.1 Rushing Defense 116.5 5 32
64 3 126.08 Pass Efficiency Defense 130.11 7 78
72 4 372.9 Total Defense 384.6 6 84
83 6 28.1 Scoring Defense 24.5 5 60
79 7 33.73 Net Punting 41.73 2 4
50 8 9.7 Punt Returns 19.5 1 2
54 11 21.82 Kickoff Returns 24.14 4 19
91 10 -0.5 Turnover Margin 0.7 4 T-24
72 1 213.8 Pass Defense 268.1 10 110
90 12 113.97 Passing Efficiency 176.82 3 4
50 7 2 Sacks 1.1 12 104
T-62 6 5.6 Tackles For Loss 5 9 91
84 10 2.3 Sacks Allowed 1.2 5 18

check after the jump for more analysis on the game...

Oklahoma State is the most balanced team the Buffs will play all year. The Pokes can win games entirely through the air or by way of the ground game. OSU comes into the game ranked 6th in the nation and 1st in the Big 12, averaging a whopping 265 yards/game on the ground. That is only 57 yards less than what the Buffs average in total offense. If it wasn't for the QB-deep Big 12 this year, OSU RB Kendall Hunter would probably be the candidate for Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. Hunter is currently ranked 4th in the nation in rushing and is the dominant back in the Big 12. He has 500 more yards than any other running back in the Big 12, totaling 13 touchdowns and averaging 6.69 ypc. Hunter has been very consistent, rushing for 100 yards 8 times this season, including games which Oklahoma State lost. When Hunter isn't beating you, the trio of QB Zac Robinson, WR Dez Bryant and TE Brandon Pettigrew provide a solid punch through the air. The best way to describe this offense is efficient. You see that the Pokes have a rather modest 9th ranked passing offense in the Big 12. That is because Zac Robinson only attempts 22 passes a game, the fewest in the Big 12. That includes Cody Hawkins. Robinson completes 67% of his passes and leads the Big 12 in yards/attempt. That's efficient. To make matters worse, Oklahoma State averages 42 points/game and does a pretty good job of protecting the ball. Stopping this offense is going to be near impossible.

For the Buffs to win the game, it looks like the defense will have to force a couple of key turnovers, hold the Poke's to field goals instead of touchdowns and channel that 28 point second half against Iowa State. The Buffs need to score 28+ again this week to have a chance at winning. The good thing for the Colorado offense is that Oklahoma State has two weaknesses: getting to the quarterback and overall pass defense. Last week, the Buffs took advantage of a tired Iowa State defensive line in the second half and was able to beat the 114th ranked pass defense at will. This week, Oklahoma State comes into Boulder ranked 110th in the nation against the pass while only getting to the quarterback an average of 1.1 times a game which is subsequently worse than Iowa State. When Cody Hawkins had time last week, CU was able to move the ball and score. This week, the Buffs cannot wait until the second half to get going. Keeping the game close in the first half will be key. The Buffs can't have a first half performance like they did against Iowa State or it will be over at halftime. Sadly, this game looks to be a shoot out unless we see a defense that can stand up to RB Kendall Hunter. I see a lot of similarity between this OSU team and the Missouri team the Buffs faced earlier in the year: a good quarterback with playmakers at the running back, tight end and the wide receiver position.We all know how that ended. The Buffs need their best performance in all THREE phases of the game to win.