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University of Colorado Opponent Watch: Week 1

If you're only interested in our opponents the week we're slated to play them, then this piece isn't for you. This is a look at all 12 13 of our opponents in 2011 and how they did from week-to-week. Eventually, this will be a measure of our schedule strength, but since there's a pretty good chance we're not playing for a BCS bowl this season, it's just a friendly update about those teams that we'll be facing at some point. Also, with us playing Cal in '10 and this season, OSU is the only Pac-12 team we don't know anything about, so I figured we should follow them a bit so we know what to expect when we face them finally in 2013. And because they're important too...

The Hawaii Warriors (1-0)

Feh. We get to see pretty quickly how good they actually are when they face Washington next week. I have a feeling they'll do really well and make us feel a little bit better about losing to them.

Follow the jump to see what new hairstyles I'm contemplating!

The California Golden Bears (1-0)

So one week after giving up more than 100 yards rushing to a QB not known for his feet, we face a talented dual-threat QB in Zach Maynard. He wasn't consistent, but he played really well when he was on. Both Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones had 100 yards receiving and the defense held Fresno State to 210 yards. Cal still has issues on the road (and we tend to be better at home), but CU is going to have to take some big steps this week to make this a close game.

The Colorado St. Rams (1-0)

They managed to hold on in the final minutes by forcing a fumble, so it wasn't the most impressive win, but it's still a win. Their offense didn't perform all that well and made a bunch of mistakes, but they've got a chance to figure those things out next week against Northern Colorado. They don't look particularly strong, so this still feels like a win for us.

The Ohio St. Buckeyes (1-0)

They brought a lot of different looks up front on defense, with everything from 2-4 down linemen while blitzing members a speedy and talented group of LBs and CBs. It will be interesting to see how they line up against us. They also deflected a TON of passes at the line of scrimmage. Even if it was against the Zips, they shut them out. On offense, QB John Bauserman ran their offense very effectively. They move him around a lot, and boy do they love to use their tight end. Braxton "The Future" Miller showed some flashes and looks like he's the real deal. Their offensive line is big and strong, but not terribly fast, which might be a good sign for guys like Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Josh Hartigan and our linebackers. Their running backs (in place of Boom Herron) all looked good. They too sport an untested kicker, who missed his only attempt. They get another cupcake in Toledo (...for them, that is) next week. Also, their freshman WR Spencer had maybe the best one-handed catch I've ever seen.

The Washington St. Cougars (1-0)

They lost starting QB Jeff Tuel to a broken clavicle, which probably means he won't be available against us, but they do have a 5th year senior backup who played pretty well in his absence in this game. Yes, it was a win against Idaho State, but they looked pretty solid on offense. Their defensive secondary was suspect, so that's something to watch against UNLV this week. Having spent a whole off-season with the spread-style offense seems to have helped them a bunch.

The Stanford Cardinal (1-0)

Terrible game by the Cardinal...wait, didn't they win by 54 points? Yes, but they also were playing one of the weakest opponents faced by any of the Pac-12 teams over the weekend. Andrew Luck was off, his offensive line is shaky (though give it time, I'm sure they'll start to gel) and the defensive secondary is a work in progress. They went very vanilla with the gameplan, so expect to see them play much better as they go forward, but that is worrisome. Entering the season, they were my pick to win the conference, but we'll see. I'm sure they'll get it together, but this was not the way they wanted to start their year.

The Washington Huskies (1-0)

Washington probably should have lost this game. They were dominated for the most part on both sides of the ball. Their offensive line showed a lot of weaknesses (Chris Polk gained his 125 yards on his own) and their defense was surprisingly off. They weren't supposed to be great this year, but they were supposed to be better than this. Perhaps they fell into the ‘no-focus-vs-a-lesser-opponent' hole, but that's not a very good excuse. They play Hawaii next week and I now believe the Warriors will have their way with them.

The Oregon Ducks (0-1)

An uncharacteristically bad game by the Oregon offense was the cause of this loss. I'm certain they will be better than this the rest of the season. Lots of drops and fumbles and mistakes. Their defense actually played pretty well (a scary thought), but were working with a short field far too often to slow down the powerful LSU offense. LSU is a very good team, as is Oregon. They'll drop in the rankings, but I guarantee they'll work their way up again. Before this game I held the belief that Stanford was the best Pac-12 team, but I'm not so sure now. Lets see in another couple of weeks. A loss this early is tough, but that's what happens when you play quality teams. Kudos to them for scheduling that way.

The Arizona St. Sun Devils (1-0)

If you were looking for any surprises from them, sorry to disappoint you. QB Brock Osweiler looked good, though they definitely didn't open up the playbook. RB Cameron Marshall is a bruiser and looked good catching the ball as well. Vontaze Burfict was a beast and tallied 3 sacks. The only thing I can say is that their tackling was suspect early, but it was the first game of the season and that's probably something they will work on sometime before we see them. Next week they face the Missouri Tigers, who will be a much tougher test than UC-Davis. That will give us a much better idea of how well Osweiler can run the Offense. One of their starting offensive tackles suffered an ankle sprain, but they're expecting him to return soon.

The USC Trojans (1-0)

Their offense looked good passing the ball and inconsistent running the ball. They didn't get a great push along the offensive line (though Minnesota has some experience along their D-line). Matt Barkley was very good and Robert Woods was spectacular. Their defensive was inconsistent. At times, they shut down the Gophers, but other times they were very leaky. They got good pressure some of the time, but other plays gave the QB forever. They will need to get more consistent in their execution before facing the Utes next week.

The Arizona Wildcats (1-0)

A win against Northern Arizona isn't the most impressive, but they did look pretty good. Their passing game is excellent (as anticipated), though their offensive line is suspect and their Running game is a weakness. They play Oklahoma State next week, which will give us a good idea if they're for real or not. On defense, they really miss some of those guys who tore their ACLs, and they only really had defensive success when playing in the nickel. Special teams was a disaster for them, and will definitely have an impact next week. Overall, they still have a lot of questions that need answering, though a big one did get addressed: Juron Criner had 151 yards receiving and a nice TD. He's back.

The UCLA Bruins (0-1)

Bruins fans will tell you they should have won this game. That may or may not be true, but they easily COULD have won it. They made a lot of unforced errors on offense (drops, poor snaps, fumbles, etc.). Tight end Fauria is a talented pass-catcher and will be a very tough matchup at 6'8". On defense, they ran a number of twists and blitzed their linebackers plenty. There were a bunch of missed and broken tackles, especially by their ‘backers. They were playing a gimmicky Houston offense, so we don't know how this defense looks against a pro-style offense yet, but their cornerbacks actually fared pretty well considering the talented wideouts of Houston. This game featured another one of the best catches I've ever seen (a caught-behind-the-defender's-back catch). Tough to gauge how bad this loss is until we see how Houston does this season. Next, UCLA faces San Jose State who just got destroyed by Stanford 57-3.

The Utah Utes (1-0)

They dominated the first quarter despite employing a pretty conservative gameplan. Quarterback Jordan Wynn (and his repaired shoulder) didn't look great, but he also didn't look terrible. The defense was very vanilla but was solid. Also, JC transfer running back John White looked very good. RB was one of their big question marks going into 2011. Mostly, we need to see what they do against a higher level opponent, instead of cupcake Montana State (writing that just damaged my pride a lot). They'll get their chance to prove themselves next week against USC in the first Pac-12 conference game ever.

***the Oregon St. Beavers*** (0-1)

Easily the worst loss suffered by a Pac-12 team, and perhaps the most disappointing day of all. Sure, their true freshman running back Malcom Agnew is the NCAA's leading rusher after 1 week, but they lost in overtime because of a weak secondary after missing a kick that would have given them the victory at the end of regulation. They benched their starting QB Katz after a terrible first half and instead went with a redshirt freshman and first time starter. Overall it was a very tough day for the Beavers. The only impact of this was to contribute to the not-so-great image the Pac-12 has after one week of college football. They play Wisconsin next week. We won't face them until the 2013 season.