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Colorado Buffaloes vs. New Hampshire Wildcats: Week 3 Preview

The Buffaloes last non-conference game with a rare first-ever meeting between the two schools

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

The Colorado Buffaloes (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12) are coming off of a fourth quarter comeback win for the ages against Nebraska. The 33-28 stunner in Lincoln kept the Buffaloes undefeated on the season and pushed some of their projected win totals to seven or more.

It’s been a much different story for the New Hampshire Wildcats (0-2, 0-0 CAA) to start the 2018 season. The team is traditionally known as a lower division powerhouse and is riding a streak of 17 consecutive seasons in the FCS playoffs, despite never making an appearance in a national championship game during that time. Current UCLA coach Chip Kelly served as an assistant alongside New Hampshire coach Sean McDonnell for six seasons from 1994-99. McDonnell was promoted to his current position and made Kelly his offensive coordinator to construct the revered option-style spread offense he took to Oregon, the NFL and now UCLA.

For the Wildcats, the starting quarterback overseeing their offense is Trevor Knight. The Colonial Athletic Association’s preseason player of the year was sidelined with a shoulder injury in New Hampshire’s 10-3 loss to Colgate last week. Knight’s status against Colorado remains a game time decision. McDonnell and the Wildcats offense could use a boost from Knight being available after being outscored 45-10 by their opponents in the past two weeks. Backup quarterback Christian Lupoli put in reps in relief of Knight last week, but still has a long way to go after completing 14-of-24 passes for 133 yards. The Buffs can expect the Wildcats offense to feature multiple variations from co-coordinators Michael Ferzoco and Alex Miller similar to what they’ve gone up against with past opponents like Hawaii and Oregon.

With last week’s win, Buffs QB Steven Montez has thrown for over 300 yards seven times in his career at Colorado. The numbers for the El Paso, Texas native are impressive thus far into the season, with him completing 73.7 percent (55-of-75) of his passes for 689 yards and eight total touchdowns. Colorado is expected to be up by multiple scores at halftime, which means Montez may not see much action in the second half (if any at all) against New Hampshire’s defense and leaves a possibility for offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini to get Sam Noyer and Tyler Lytle time under center.

The Wildcats strongest link is their defense under the guidance of John Lyons. The unit has has nine returning starters from a team that posted a 9-5 record last year. CU plays against New Hampshire’s 4-2-5 defense that was first overall in the CAA last year, but are allowing 22.5 points per game so far in 2018. The task for Montez against the Wildcats five-man secondary is reading which safety might be coming over the top, and which one may be playing in zone coverage. Another key to this contest will be using Travon McMillian’s run game down-after-down to load up for Montez to try and go deep.

News and notes

From the desk of Dave Plati:

Obscure stat of the week- “It might not get more obscure than this: the last time Colorado opened 2-0 without the benefit of one of the wins being at home in Boulder was in 1920. The then-Silver & Gold (Buffaloes would not become the nickname for another 14 years) opened with a 31-0 win at Denver on October 16; a week later, CU defeated Wyoming in Laramie, 7-0. Heck, Folsom Field didn’t even exist then, it opened in 1924. It also happened in 1900, 1905 and 1908, but five of the wins were against area high schools and the sixth, on October 7, 1905, was Colorado’s all-time highest margin of victory, a 109-0 win over Regis College in Denver.”

Colorado welcomes New Hampshire into Folsom Field for a non-conference meeting on Saturday, Sept. 15 with a 3 p.m. MT kickoff.

New Hampshire travels the longest distance of any FCS opponent Colorado has faced in the program’s 129-year history at 2,044 miles. The second-longest distance by a mere 55 miles to the 2,099 miles Miami traveled in 1993.

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: 850 KOA

Weather forecast: 87° sunny