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Buffaloes look ahead to soft schedule

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CU has wrapped the most difficult part of the schedule and can make a late-season run.

NCAA Football: California at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After starting the season 5-0 and moving up to 19th in the AP poll, the Colorado Buffaloes have stumbled into two losses to Washington and USC. Those were frustrating losses to be sure — CU had their chances in each but did nothing with them — but if the Buffs were going to lose any two games this season, those would be it. After those tough road contests, CU is set up nicely through the rest of the season.

Oregon State, Oct. 27

The Beavers are easily the worst team in the Pac-12 and the Buffs have them at home. CU won’t lose unless something catastrophic happens, so you can go ahead and start planning for a bowl game. The Buffs will probably treat the Beavs as Cal did this past week, and that’s as a punching bag to vent pent up frustration.

S&P+ Win Expectancy: 84%

Expected Wins: 5.8

@ Arizona, Nov. 2

Arizona is awful. If there’s going to be one easy road win this year, this would be it. We should be afraid of Khalil Tate after what he did to Colorado last season, but he’s nursing an ankle injury that kept him out this past week. New coach Kevin Sumlin isn’t even using him correctly and Tate has only 110 rushing yards on the season. Considering how trash the Wildcats defense is and that they have no dynamic offensive player besides Tate, this should be a win unless something very weird occurs.

S&P+ Win Expectancy: 54%

Expected Wins: 6.4

Washington State, Nov. 10

Depending on how you feel about Utah, this is Colorado’s toughest game left. Wazzu just beat the hell out of Oregon (at least in the first half) and rose to No. 15 in the AP poll. They might be the most dangerous team in the Pac-12 and it looks like they’re only getting better. If CU continues to struggle in pass defense, they will have a very difficult time stopping Gardner Minshew and the Cougs. But if the Buffs’ offense regains its form, Wazzu is thin and inconsistent on defense. The Buffs could very much get this upset over a Top 15 (or Top 10) team.

S&P+ Win Expectancy: 37%

Expected Wins: 6.7

Utah, Nov 17

If Colorado takes does upset Wazzu, this game against Utah would potentially be for the Pac-12 South. Utah just beat down USC to gain the upper hand in the division. That was also their third blowout in a row, which helped them climb into the ranking this week. They have road games at UCLA (not awful anymore) and Arizona State (quality team), plus a home game against Oregon (very dangerous), so this could be a completely different story in four weeks. If both teams are where they’re expected to be, the Utes would have matchup advantages — what with their always good defensive line — but Colorado is a young, improving team who will be playing at a packed house.

S&P+ Win Expectancy: 33%

Expected Wins: 7.1

@ California, Nov. 24

Colorado’s final game is another winnable road game against a middling foe. Cal made it to No. 24 in the AP Polls after three weeks, but they have only beaten Oregon State in their four games since. This is not a good team, especially when they’re cycling through three different mediocre QBs. Cal is probably better than Arizona, but this should absolutely be a win for the Buffs.

S&P+ Win Expectancy: 41%

Expected Wins: 7.5