Heading into homecoming, the Colorado Buffaloes are looking to bounce back after dropping back-to-back games on the road against USC and Washington. With a win, the Buffaloes (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) would become bowl eligible for just the second time in 11 seasons. Saturday’s opponent, the Oregon State Beavers (1-6, 0-4 Pac-12) are in search of their first conference win in over two years. CU is still in the race for the Pac-12 South, but they need luck on their side, along with likely winning out, to contend for a conference title.
The all-time series is even at 5-5 going back to their first meeting in 1931. Colorado has won the last three games, including a 36-33 fourth quarter comeback victory last year in Corvallis. Despite their records both teams have traditionally played each other close in recent years. Other than a 47-6 runaway by Colorado in 2016, three of the five contests have been decided by five points or less. Although, Oregon State’s last road victory came in 2014 when the Beavers came into Boulder and beat the Buffs.
Many have questioned how injuries will play a factor for both teams. Most notably who’s going to start at quarterback for OSU? Jake Luton has been out with a high ankle sprain for over a month, and backup Conor Blount suffered a head injury in last week’s game against California. Blount is in the concussion protocol entering Saturday’s game, leaving third-string JUCO transfer Jack Colletto as the likely starter vs. CU. Behind Colletto is Oregon State legacy recruit and redshirt freshman Aidan Willard, who has one passing attempt this season. Colletto went 11-or-20 for 104 yards in relief of Blount last week.
Colorado went into Washington without standout wide receivers Laviska Shenault Jr. (foot), Jay MacIntyre (concussion), kicker James Stefanou (hip) and defensive back Delrick Abrams (calf), who were all dealing with injuries. Shenault is the Buffs biggest playmaking threat, leading the nation in yards per game with a 130 average. It’s possible Shenault will miss another week, but has a day-to-day status at press time.
Colorado’s offense has continued to struggle of late, going 10-of-36 on third down conversions over the past two weeks. Steven Montez looks to get back on track as well. After throwing for over 200 yards all but one time (pulled early vs. New Hampshire) in the first five games, he averaged 157 yards passing against Washington and USC. Colorado’s run game behind Travon McMillian has played a factor on how well they’ve been able to keep the sticks moving. McMillian should have no problems against Oregon State, who’s a lousy 128st nationally against the run by giving up an average of 274.6 yards per contest. Overall, the Beavers defense is one of the bottom ten allowing 541 yards per game.
News and Notes
Pac-12 Network’s “The Pregame” heads to Boulder this week for the hour-long show at noon (between gates 6 & 7 at Folsom Field). It’s homecoming weekend for Colorado with a 63-35-5 record all-time in 103 games including two straight wins over Arizona State in 2016 and Cal last year. A big happy birthday to defensive tackle Javier Edwards, who turns 22 tomorrow.
From the desk of Dave Plati:
“Colorado has just six turnovers in seven games this season (five interceptions, one lost fumble); that’s tied for the fifth-fewest in the nation. Georgia Southern has just three (all lost fumbles) to lead the nation; Arizona State, Army and UCF are tied for second with five turnovers, and then the Buffaloes are one of eight teams with just six turnovers. Only Mississippi State, with no lost fumbles, has fewer than CU’s 1; UCF, Notre Dame and Buffalo are the only other schools to have lost just one fumble along with the Buffs.”
Obscure stat of the week: “QB Steven Montez has started 19 straight games dating back to the 2017 season opener; that is now tied for the fourth most consecutive starts by a quarterback in CU history. Gale Weidner holds the record, starting all 31 in his Colorado career that spanned the 1959, 1960 and 1961 seasons (including the ’62 Orange Bowl). Kordell Stewart started the final 25 of his career (25 regular season, three bowl) from 1992-94, and Bill Solomon started all 22 in his junior and senior seasons of 1978 and 1979. Joel Klatt also started 19 in a row at one point, the final seven of 2004 and all 12 regular season games in 2005 before a cheap shot by a Texas defender in the Big 12 Championship game ended his collegiate career prior to CU’s participating in the Champs Sports Bowl.”
Colorado welcomes Oregon State into Folsom Field on Saturday, Oct. 27 with kickoff at 1 p.m. MT. A difference of 5110 feet between the elevation of Folsom Field (5,345 feet) and the city of Corvallis (235 feet).
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: 850 KOA (Mark Johnson, Gary Barnett)
Odds: -24 Colorado
Weather: 72° clear