Most expected the Colorado Buffaloes (0-2, Pac-12) to be where they’re at currently. But back-to-back brutal losses have left critics wondering if a winless season will be the outcome of Karl Dorrell’s third year in Boulder.
The Buffs look ahead to Minnesota on Saturday in the finale of their non-conference schedule. Both schools met at this same point a year ago with the Golden Gophers enjoying a 30-0 shutout on the road. No bad for a place they haven’t been to in 30 years.
Minnesota (2-0, Big Ten) has yet to face a ‘Power 5’ team with wins over New Mexico State and Western Illinois. Oh, by the way, the average margin of victory for the Gophers this season is 45 points. Similar to last year, Saturday’s game is going to be difficult on the Buffs for several reasons. There’s not been much positive to speak about on offense with enormous problems yet to be fixed. Also, the defense has allowed a conference-worst 39.5 points per game.
The Gophers have come out of the gates in the opposite way by allowing a total of 10 points (2nd, FBS). They’re not ranked in the Top 25, but will likely be when they start their Big Ten schedule.
What will be different from this Minnesota team compared to last year is top-tier personnel. Top rusher Mo Ibrahim was sidelined due to a season-ending injury, forcing Trey Potts to tear up the Buffs (and he did). It was a career day for the backup with 121 yards and three touchdowns. Both Ibrahim and Potts are a steady rushing attack with a combined 430 yards and seven of the twelve scores on the ground this season.
The Gophers will face a CU defense who’ll have to play lights out and be blessed with a bit of luck to even give them a chance for the first win of the season. However, the Buffs have the odds stacked against them as 27.5-point underdogs. Adding insult to injury, this could turn into the “I-P” show as CU has given up an average of 355 rushing yards per game.
The Buffs secondary has been a bright spot, allowing an average of 73 passing yards. However, it’s a misrepresented stat considering AFA rarely tested anything down the field and ran the ball all afternoon.
If the Buffaloes can slow the Minnesota run game things may not get out of hand after all. But, Potts adding a year of experience, along with Ibrahim as the primary option presents a tall task for a CU defense that is possibly worse this year.
Gophers QB Tanner Morgan returns as a fifth-year senior. While his 2021 campaign wasn’t what he hoped for he has played mistake-free thus far. Morgan won’t air the ball out more than 30 times per game, mostly because PJ Fleck’s offense has a run-first mentality. Overall, Colorado needs to account for Morgan while not being focused exclusively on Minnesota’s rushers.
Colorado’s offense will have their hands full with the Gopher D. Not to mention, the Buffs still haven’t made a concrete decision on who’s the starting QB. Brendon Lewis was sidelined last week vs. AFA in-favor of Tennessee transfer JT Shrout. Shrout is willing to throw downfield and be a risk-taker, while Lewis isn’t with a more conservative style.
Dorrell said he is going to play both quarterbacks on Saturday.
From the desk of Dave Plati:
Obscure note of the week: “Colorado has been disciplined when it’s come to penalties through two games; the Buffs have just nine for 70 yards: six on offense (40 yards), one on defense (15 yards) and two on special teams (15 yards). In fact, CU’s first flag on defense didn’t occur until 90 minutes and 51 seconds into the season. The 4.5 penalties per game is third in the Pac-12 and 16th nationally; the 35.0 yards are second and 19th, respectively. The Buffs ended the 2021 season with the exact same numbers for two games: 9 for 70 yards.”
Colorado goes north for a non-conference meeting with Minnesota on Saturday, Sept. 17. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. MT. It’s the first time playing two non-league games back-to-back on the road since 1994, according to CU athletics.
Radio: 850 KOA (Mark Johnson and Gary Barnett)
Weather forecast: 77° Sunny
Odds: -27.5 Minnesota