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Buffaloes hope to beat up Beavers in Corvallis: Week 8 Preview

The Buffs hit the road on their first win streak of the season.

Oregon State v Colorado Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Colorado took Cal to the limit last week and came away with their first win of the 2022 season. It wasn’t pretty but the start to Mike Sanford’s tenure in Boulder put energy back into a program on life support. CU has played one of the nation’s toughest schedules to date – the previous six opponents are combined 27-11.

Saturday the Buffaloes (1-5, 1-2 Pac-12) head to Pacific Northwest to face Oregon State. One week after pulling off a 14-point win over Washington State, the Beavers (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) are close to securing bowl eligibility for the second consecutive year under Johnathan Smith. It’s a feat that hasn’t been accomplished by OSU in nine years.

The Pac-12 scrapped the North and South divisions and the Beavers are still very much in the thick of the conversation for a title game bid. It would take some luck (and losses) for that to happen, but don’t count out anything in the latter months of the season.

Oregon State’s win over the Cougars came with Ben Gulbranson getting the start under center in place of Chance Nolan. The three-year freshman from Newbury Park, California also led the Beavers to a 28-27 comeback victory against Stanford two weeks ago when Nolan was sidelined with a concussion.

Gulbranson hasn’t completed over twenty passes in each of the past three games. However, he has made his throws count for big yardage. Out of his 44 completions in the past 12 quarters of work, twenty-six of those have been receptions over 10 yards and have accounted for a majority of his 568 passing yards. If Nolan isn’t cleared for a third straight week, Gulbranson will earn his third career start and first against the Buffs.

Whether it’s Gulbranson or Nolan, CU’s defense will need to find stops for Oregon State’s rushing attack, which is averaging 328.9 yards amongst Deshaun Fenwick, Damien Martinez, and Jam Griffin. The trio is 14 yards shy of 1,000 so far this season with eight touchdowns. As a whole, the Beavers offense averages 418.3 yards per game and 31.6 points (7th, Pac-12).

While OSU isn’t high-powered in many regards, neither is Colorado’s offense attack. The Buffs will be led by JT Shrout this week, as Owen McCown didn’t improve enough off of his injury against Cal to practice this week. CU’s avarage of 14.5 point per game is dead-last among Power 5 teams and third-least in FBS. McCown was taken out of Saturday’s game due to injury with backup Shrout leading the Buffs to victory, despite the offense not scoring over 20 points for a ninth-straight game. It will be Shrout’s first start since a 41-10 Week 2 blowout at Air Force and his first-ever in Pac-12 play.

Colorado sizes up against an Oregon State defensive unit that is probably the most underrated in the conference by allowing an average of 359.6 yards per game. The more aggresive approach under defensive coordinator Trent Bray has kept the Beavers in close matchups and is a huge reason why they’re currently a two-loss team. Oregon State’s experienced secondary with Rejzohn Wright, Alex Austin, Jaydon Grant, Kitan Oladapo and Alton Julian have put together a total of 161 tackles, 23 PBUs, and 6 INTs.

From the desk of Dave Plati:

Stat of the Week- ”Breakthrough Game. WR Montana Lemonious-Craig caught eight passes for 119 yards and the game-winning touchdown against California in CU’s 20-13 overtime win last Saturday. Targeted eight times, he caught all eight balls and also earned five first downs. The 6-2, 185-pound sophomore nearly doubled his yards entering the game (15 receptions for 172 yards) in recording the first 100-yard receiving game of his career (and the 163rd in CU history). It was the first by a Buffalo this season and the most yards since Dimitri Stanley had 126 at Stanford on Nov. 14, 2020.”

Obscure stat of the week- “Night & Day. Colorado allowed 673 yards on defense in the 43-20 loss at Arizona on October 1. Then the head coaching change came down that also saw a change in defensive coordinators. The defense was overhauled to a degree and two weeks later, Cal came into today averaging 398.2 yards offensively; the Bears were held to 297. The 376-yard difference between games is the seventh-best improvement from one game to the next in CU history, and the 297 yards tied for the fourth-fewest allowed by a defensive coordinator (Gerald Chatman) in his first game steering the Buff defense”

Game info

Colorado hits the road to square off against Oregon State. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. MT from Reser Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 22. The Buffs have won three of the last four in the series, which is knotted at six wins a piece for each school.

TV: Pac-12 Network (National)

Radio: 850 KOA (Mark Johnson and Gary Barnett)

Weather forecast: 53°, 40% chance of rain showers

Odds: -23.5, Oregon State