‘Pac-12 After Dark’ goes to Autzen Stadium for a Friday Night Lights affair between the 13th-ranked Oregon Ducks (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) and Colorado Buffaloes (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12). This will be Colorado’s first-ever night game at Oregon.
Colorado is coming off a hard fought 35-30 loss at home to Arizona but could play the role of spoiler. The Buffs are 2-0 vs. ranked opponents this season and look to add another mark in the win column pushing closer to securing a postseason invitation. Oregon took California’s best punch last week in a 17-7 win, but nonetheless are undefeated in Pac-12 play. They have rattled off four straight wins to sit atop the standings in the Pac-12 North.
It’s been three years since the Buffs pulled out a thrilling 41-38 win over the Ducks on Sept. 24, 2016. It was the first career start for then-backup quarterback Steven Montez, who threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns, along with rushing for another 135 yards and a score. It may be the best ever quarterback debut in program history, as it bettered Kordell Stewart’s 430 yards of total offense vs. Colorado State in 1992 and Darian Hagan’s 116 rushing yards vs. Texas in 1989.
It’s hard to believe it was the last time both conference school faced each other.
Montez now goes into another quarterback battle with Ducks ace and projected top 2020 NFL Draft pick Justin Herbert. Both are proven gunslingers in Pac-12 play and want to make a name at the next level. Herbert’s numbers so far this season are outstanding, completing 71.6 percent of his passes for 1,341 yards, 15 touchdowns to a single interception. Montez has yielded comparable stats with 1,463 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Colorado’s potent offensive attack averages 34.6 points per game, but has yet to see a defense like Oregon’s. They’re built around linebacker Troy Dye, the four-year starter who has racked up 337 total tackles in 40 career games. Dye is the center of a defense that has held opponents under 10 points per game. Colorado has allowed at least 30 points in all five games this season, while keeping the pace by scoring 30 or more in all but one game.
Oregon will be without defensive end Gus Cumberlander who’s out for the rest of the season with a knee injury he suffered during the game against California. Kayvon Thibodeaux, the to-rated recruit in the 2019 class, will likely see a majority of snaps in place of Cumberlander vs. Colorado’s defense.
On the other hand, the Buffs were hit with a string of injuries over the past three weeks since the win over Arizona State. Top go-to wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. and defensive mastermind Mustafa Johnson are still listed as day-to-day after sitting out last week. Eight Buffs starters have either missed time in recent weeks or are out for the season — a majority of them on defense.
Without Shenault, Tony Brown has emerged at the primary receiving target of the Buffs. The one-time Texas Tech product has hauled in 29 receptions for 442 yards and four touchdowns. K.D. Nixon is also listed as a day-to-day option going forward as well.
News and Notes
From the desk of Dave Plati:
“Colorado is first in the Pac-12 and third in the nation in turnover margin at +1.60 (forcing 12 while committing only four). But what those have led to is even more impressive, as the Buffaloes have scored 37 points off those opponent miscues (four touchdowns, three field goals), while the opponent has scored just three points. CU is averaging 7.4 yards on its first play following an opponent turnover, highlighted by last Saturday’s 38-yard touchdown pass from K.D. Nixon to Dimitri Stanley.”
“With the attendance for the Arizona game last Saturday (Family Weekend) of 52,569, it was CU’s second sellout this season, the first time since 2005 Folsom Field has seen two the same season. The Buffs have drawn 154,680 for three games; the last time CU exceeded 150,000 for its first three home games was in 2011 (153,583), CU’s first year in the Pac-12. This millennium, CU reached 150,000 after three games in 2000, 2005, 2008 and 2009 (154,849 that season, the most through three games in this span); it finished last century with eight straight years of 150k+ (1990 through 1997) after not doing so since 1974.”
Colorado head to the Pacific Northwest up to collide with No. 13 Oregon on Oct. 11. Kickoff is schedule for 8 p.m. MT at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks hold a 12-9 advantage over the Buffs in the series.
TV: Fox Sports 1 (National)
Radio: 850 KOA (Regional)
Weather Forecast: 57°, Clear at kickoff
Odds: -21 Oregon