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Buffaloes Look for Win Number Three Against Charleston Southern

Freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau looks to start his Buffaloes career at 1-0.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucs of Charleston Southern visit Boulder for a late addition to the 2013 Colorado Buffaloes schedule. It's the replacement game for the postponed Fresno State match-up. It's still being discussed what year or decade it may be made up, but for now we'll let the Buffs square off against the Bucs.

Breaking Down the Opponent

The Charleston Southern Bucs inaugural football season was 1991. That year many Buffs fans were still coming off their hangover from Colorado's 1990 National Championship. Charleston Southern began competing at the Division I-AA, now FCS, level in 1993. They are members of the Big South Conference and has never made the playoffs in their history. The Bucs have their second best start in school history at 7-0 this year, only bested by the 2006 season when they reeled off nine consecutive wins before losing their final two games, including the season finale to rival Coastal Carolina which kept them out of the Division 1-A/FCS playoffs.

Since then the Bucs have toiled in mediocrity. A new coach in the form of former Bucs assistant, Jamey Chadwell, seems to have invigorated life into the Bucs. Chadwell comes from four years of head coaching responsibilities at two small Division II programs. He seems to have taken his experience at the lower level and had success quickly at the next level.

Charleston Southern runs a shotgun/pistol formation 2-back, option heavy rushing attack that is quick hitting but relies heavily on play-calling within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. They were led by Senior Malcolm Dixon to start the season but an injured knee forced hometown hero redshirt freshman Daniel Croghan III to take over late into their 5th game of the season against Appalachian State. Croghan led the Bucs to a come from behind victory and has been solid in their two victories since Dixon's injury. Croghan III is a big quarterback, 6'-4" and 220 pounds and looks comfortable in the offense being a dual threat QB in high school.

Christian Reyes leads the Bucs on the ground with 742 yards on 138 attempts and 6 touchdowns on the season. Reyes is less than 50 yards away from breaking the single season school record for rushing. The Bucs average 241 yards a game on the ground compared to 140 through the air. Their quarterbacks have accounted for 426 of those rushing yards.

Charleston Southern's leading receiver is Kevin Glears with 20 catches for 303 yards and 5 touchdown receptions. Croghan III leaned heavily on Larry Jones III last week against VMI making the III to III connection a key component to earning their seventh victory.

The Bucs defense has been solid against the opponents they've faced allowing only 17 point per game. However the Buccaneers lost their best pass rusher in Will Hunt who led the team with 6 sacks and 8 tackles for a loss to go with 34 total tackles. CSU gets pressure from elsewhere but it seemed to center around Hunt. Demaris Freeman leads all Bucs defenders with 55 tackles but the Bucs lean heavily on their linebacking corp of Calvin Bryant, Adam Witzmann and Gabe Middlebrook. The Bucs have been a bend, but not break defense giving up large chunks of yardage but limiting opponents to field goals.

The special teams for CSU have not been of much note, being very pedestrian in all phases from returns to coverage units and seem to be neither a liability nor an asset.

Game Breakdown:

Colorado comes into this game licking their wounds after three straight lopsided losses while Charleston Southern comes in on a high note from winning their first seven with some dramatic come from behind victories. The Buffaloes have lost their last two games by 41 points apiece while only managing 46 points in their last three games combined.

Charleston Southern will have played their 8th game in 8 weeks and were allowed a 13th game because of the flooding situation in Boulder. They will have played 13 weeks out of 13 by the end of the FCS regular season. This is their 7th game on the road.

While Folsom Field is the largest stadium the Bucs will have been in during the 2013 season, they did face Appalachian State with a crowd of over 29,000 on hand. Based off the Buffs attendance figures for the year, they may not see much more than that in Boulder. Charleston Southern is 0-12 against FBS opponents and have only headed west of Illinois twice to take a nice vacation in Hawaii in 2007 and 2010. The Bucs may think altitude is not a huge factor after playing in "mountainous" Boone, North Carolina against Appalachian State at 3,333 feet above sea level but that is just high altitude and the Buffs will be welcoming them to the very high altitude of 5,360 feet above sea level.

The Buffs come into the game with a freshman quarterback getting his first start. Sefo Liufau is both big and athletic for a freshman and pushed former starter Connor Wood throughout fall camp. After 2 games and a quarter of an anemic offensive attack, Coach Mike MacIntyre decided to hand the playbook and team over to Liufau. He will need to steer the Buffs ship in the right direction immediately with expectations of a victory. He'll have a good opportunity to do so against a FCS school whose ability doesn't match their record. Liufau managed the Arizona State game well for getting thrown into the fire without much warning but did not wow in his 3+ quarters of play. He did lead a scoring drive on his first series but as has been the case the last 3 games, the offense stalled repeatedly and the defense was carved up for big yards for much of the game.

The Buffs defense has given up over 530 yards a game the past 3 games. They haven't looked in sync and have looked much like the 2011 and 2012 teams looking completely lost and overmatched at times. After starting out strong against the run, the Buffs got dominated by both Oregon and Arizona State on the ground.

The Buffs need a break from the Pac 12's high powered offenses. They faced 3 of the top 5 programs in the conference and have lost some of the swagger they had before the conference schedule began. While Charleston Southern is 7-0, their FCS opposition is 7-24 with two of their other wins having come against Division II opposition. They are currently ranked behind a 3-3 Central Arkansas team that the Colorado Buffaloes outplayed all but in the special teams phase of the game. This will be the sixth road game for Charleston Southern and the furthest they have traveled this season.

Game Prediction

Everything seems to stack up for an interesting game between the Buffaloes and Buccaneers. CSU is 7-0 and looking to make a statement before finishing out the year with its most difficult FCS opposition awaiting, including future FBS school UNC-Charlotte next week and rival Coastal Carolina two weeks after that. On the other side Colorado has a freshman quarterback in his first start and has been dominated the last three games. No one knows whether Charleston Southern is really as good as their undefeated record and whether Colorado is as bad as everyone has seen for the past 3 weeks.

The Buffs should get back on track against the Bucs. They have superior size, speed, strength and position match-ups. The injury to Will Hunt is another big positive for Colorado, since he was a force the Buffs offensive line would have had difficult keeping in check. Charleston Southern has to be physically and mentally exhausted after multiple late game wins and being on the road much of the season, though their travel requirements are far less restrictive than the teams out west, they probably have had some long bus rides compared to the flights afforded to the bigger conference schools. Jamey Chadwell will be telling his team that this is David versus Goliath, shock the world, make a statement game but this is simply a way for the school to make some money. The Buffaloes and Mike MacIntyre will be talking about a season turning, statement game before finishing their season with 6 games against Pac 12 foes. It will be a way for Liufau to show he is ready and able to be a Pac 12 starting quarterback.

Nelson Spruce and Tyler McCulloch proved to still be the safety valves they were for Buffs quarterbacks in 2012, but Paul Richardson will need to be a big part of the game plan in order to open up the offense and afford Liufau to get comfortable and gain confidence.

If this game is close, both teams have comeback wins in the fourth quarter, but it's been 6 weeks since the Buffs have experienced victory and felt comfortable in that position. Based off the factors of CSU being physically, mentally and emotionally beat up, it shouldn't get to that point and Colorado should be able to control the Bucs and have their first comfortable victory in 3 seasons. Buffaloes win 44-14 controlling the game and sending Charleston Southern back with a Happy Gilmore sized check and their first loss of the season.

Quick Fun Facts:

• Running Back Christian Reyes (Rogue River, OR), Senior LB Adam Witzman (Encinitas, CA) and true freshman Quarterback Dalton Saunders (Arp, TX) are the only players on their roster that are from west of the Mississippi.

• The CSU roster consists of one player from the states of Alabama, Oregon, Texas and Virginia. New Jersey has two players represented. The two states south of South Carolina have 44 total players (23 from Florida and 21 from Georgia) equaling the 44 players from the hometown state.

• Charles James made CSU history on last Thursday Night Football's October 7, 2013 game playing every special teams snap for the New York Giants. On the other hand, the University of Colorado has 9 current player on NFL rosters.

• Six players in this game played high school football in New Jersey. Most of any state not named South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, California, Texas and Colorado.

• The Bucs have not eclipsed 1,000 yards passing for the season after 7 games, while the Buffs had reached that mark in less than 4 games.

• CSU and CU average 381 yards and 375 yards respectively but are polar opposites on how they get there with CSU averaging 241 yards on the ground to CUs 267 through the air.

• CSU has only 4 turnovers in 7 games while the Buffs had that in one game against Arizona State. The Buffs have turned the ball over 14 times on the season.

• The last time the Buffs won by more than 24 points was in 2007 against Miami (OH)