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Colorado Buffaloes vs. Stanford Cardinal: Game Preview

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Colorado could bowl eligible with their first ever win in Palo Alto.

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Colorado Buffaloes (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) go back out on the road this week against the Stanford Cardinal (4-2, 2-2 Pac-12). The Buffs had a statement win behind Phillip Lindsay’s 219 yards and three touchdowns, beating Arizona State 40-16 at home. That effort wasn’t quite enough to crack the Top 25 this week. Stanford had a second half comeback against Notre Dame, erasing a 10-point deficit for a 17-10 win to break a two-game losing streak.

What to expect from Colorado on offense

Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau returned as a starter after being sidelined with an ankle injury. He threw for 265 yards with no touchdowns vs. the Sun Devils. The last time Liufau failed to throw a touchdown as a starter was in last season’s opener at Hawaii.

Being ranked in the top ten for efficiency, Colorado is a threat to score often on offense. Two dual-threat quarterbacks with Liufau and Steven Montez, a rushing attack with Lindsay showing his ability vs. ASU and a trio of playmaking receivers in Bryce Bobo, Devin Ross and Shay Fields.

The Buffs are ranked fourth in the nation in total offense (3,607 yards) and only the Washington Huskies have a more efficiently ranked offense in the Pac-12. CU’s tied for fifth in the nation in first downs (180), averaging a total of 515 yards per game, with a majority in the passing game (300.4 avg.), and come in third in the Pac-12 in points per game (39.0 avg.).

What to expect from Colorado on Defense

Colorado’s defense extended the nation’s longest streak of forcing a turnover to 20 games and rank ninth in the nation for defensive efficiency, allowing opponents an average of 20 points per game. The "C-D Unit" has gathered 19 sacks and forced an average of two turnovers per game, thru seven games thus far.

The Colorado defensive front has the opportunity to have a big game against Stanford’s weak offensive line, who allows an average of three sacks per game to opponents. The Cardinal ranks second-to-last in the nation (127th) in total offense, with ten total touchdowns and averaging 19.0 points per game.

What to expect from Stanford on offense

Stanford has struggled on offense as one of the worst in FBS. Christian McCaffrey has gone from Heisman runner-up last season to just 674 total yards and four touchdowns. He was ruled out against Notre Dame last week and could be sidelined against the Buffs. Quarterbacks Ryan Burns and Keller Chryst have thrown for a combined five touchdowns and five interceptions. CU’s defense should have no issues with Stanford with or without McCaffrey.

What to expect from Stanford on defense

The Cardinal defense has been the cornerstone of the team for years and remains that way in 2016. The win against Notre Dame was another example of what Stanford’s unit can do in the clutch. They generated two interceptions including one that was returned for a 50-yard touchdown by defensive back Quenton Meeks. Nationally, Colorado and Stanford are ranked similar for total defense at 32nd and 33rd respectfully. The Buffs have given up three less yards to opponents this season.

Odds and ends

According to most Las Vegas sports books, Colorado’s an underdog by 2 points on the road and remain a perfect 7-0 against the spread this season. CU is 5-2 for the first time since 2005.

Colorado and Stanford meet at Stanford Stadium on Saturday (10/22) with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m. MT. An under capacity crowd of about 48,500 expected. Weather forecast: 73° & partly cloudy. TV: Pac-12 Network, Radio: 850 AM KOA (Colorado) KNBR 1050 AM (Bay Area, CA).