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Colorado quacks under pressure in loss to Oregon

The Buffs are not serious contenders this season, it appears.

Colorado Buffaloes vs Oregon Ducks Football Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Colorado Buffaloes had a day to forget in Eugene this weekend.

The 3-0 Buffs went into Autzen Stadium to face off against the tenth ranked Oregon Ducks and got thumped in a 42-6 loss. The Buffs were never supposed to win this game as 21-point underdogs, but the Buffs weren’t supposed to look THIS bad. Colorado got smacked by Oregon and there’s no way around it.

It was clear after the first few possessions that it wasn’t going to end well for the Buffs. Oregon kicked the game off with a ten-play, 72-yard touchdown drive. The Buffs followed this up with a three-and-out and another quick Oregon touchdown. The Ducks had a 13-0 lead just nine minutes into the game.

Dan Lanning went for the throat when he called a fake punt on Oregon’s own 22-yard-line in the first quarter. That fake punt made it clear that the Buffs could do nothing to stop Oregon’s offense. The Ducks rode the momentum from that trick play and continued to steamroll the Buffs in every aspect of the game.

“That fake punt kinda got them really rolling, and they didn’t stop.” said head coach Deion Sanders postgame.

On the defensive side of the ball, CU’s secondary couldn’t contain any of Oregon’s receivers. The unit’s coverage was so soft that it felt like the Ducks’ receivers were getting 3+ yards of separation on every play. Bo Nix took full advantage of the weak coverage and finished with 282 yards of passing. It didn’t matter if the Buffs were playing man or zone — nothing was working.

The Colorado secondary did come away with a single highlight when Nix gifted safety Jahquez Robinson with an easy pick. Nix threw the ball right into Robinson’s hands, which was Oregon’s first and only turnover of the season thus far.

Oregon’s offense line feasted on Colorado’s defensive front, especially in the run block. The Ducks created massive gaps for running backs Bucky Irving, Noah Whittington and Jordan James to burst through. The Buffs simply got outmuscled, as Oregon averaged 6.3 yards per rush.

Colorado’s offensive performance in week four was abysmal. There were flashes of the Karl Dorrell-era Buffs as offensive coordinator Sean Lewis couldn’t get anything going today. Oregon went into the locker room at halftime with 35 points, while the Buffs only had 21 yards of total offense.

Quarterback Shedeur Sanders had a rough showing this week. Shedeur finished today with 159 yards passing, a touchdown, and 23 completions on 33 attempts. That statline may seem fine, but it looked a lot worse. Colorado’s offense lives and dies by the pass because they barely run the ball. If Shedeur can’t sling the ball, the entire CU offense stalls. That is exactly what we saw today. The only points the Buffs scored today were from a garbage-time touchdown pass to tight end Mikey Harrison.

Shedeur couldn’t get into any rhythm because he was constantly on the ground. Some of that was the offensive line, but it was on Shedeur too. He got sacked seven times and a lot of those were really bad. He held onto the ball for too long and lost major yards on a couple of them. That’s been an issue already this season and something the quarterback is aware needs cleaned up.

Shedeur took accountability for his performance. “I missed a couple reads and just can’t continue to take sacks like that,” said Shedeur Sanders postgame. “I was holding [the ball] too long.”

The offensive line really struggled with a strong Ducks front four, both in pass protection and run blocks. Shedeur was constantly scrambling from pressure and there was very little push for Alton McCaskill to get going in his CU debut. Colorado is going to struggle all year defending guys like Jordan Burch and Brandon Dorlus, who combined for eight tackles and three sacks in this game.

The Buffs were outplayed by the Ducks in every single position group. Oregon is just the better football team, and it showed on the field today. Colorado got their lunch eaten in week four, simply put.

“It was a good ol’ fashioned butt kicking. There are no excuses,” said Coach Prime postgame. “Their coach did a heck of a job preparing their team. Obviously, we didn’t.”

The now 3-1 Buffs have another tough opponent ahead of them, as fifth ranked USC makes their way to Boulder next Saturday. If this week is any indicator, it might be another tough game to watch. If the Buffs can fix up their offensive line struggles and actually give Shedeur the opportunity to make plays, they’ve got a shot to win.

Fans can watch Colorado take on USC at 10 a.m. MT next Saturday on Fox.