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Colorado Buffaloes vs. Stanford Cardinal: Week Two Preview

CU is looking to go 2-0 in conference for just the third time since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.  

Stanford v Colorado Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

This Saturday the Colorado Buffaloes (1-0) head to California for the first time in 2020. The trip to The Farm to face the Stanford Cardinal (0-1) on Saturday afternoon (1:30 p.m. MT/TV: ESPN) will give the Buffs the chance to move to 2-0 in conference and get a step closer to bowl eligibility (the conference has put a minimum .500 requirement in place).

It was a solid debut for Karl Dorrell’s last Saturday night in Boulder. The Buffs notched a 48-42 win over UCLA that saw them racing out to a big lead and then holding on during the Bruins inevitable comeback. Pac-12 offensive player of the week Jarek Broussard had an impressive 31 carries for 187 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener. The duo of the Dallas, Texas tailback and quarterback Sam Noyer accounted for 508 of the 525 yards of total offense for the Buffs, all without dynamic playmakers K.D. Nixon and Alex Fontenot in the lineup.

Stanford started the season at Oregon without star QB Davis Mills. The former five-star recruit and top-rated passer has been in quarantine over the past week due to a positive test for COVID-19. Although, sources are starting to say that Mills being held out of Stanford’s season opener was unjustified.

According to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, Mills was kept out of the game due to what has now been deemed has a false positive test. Stanford coach David Shaw said Mills was still in quarantine as of Thursday afternoon, but had been cleared to play against the Buffaloes.

The Cardinal dropped their opener to the 11th-ranked Ducks, 35-14, at Autzen Stadium on Saturday night. Jack West took over under center in Mills’ absence. The backup went 13-of-19 for 154 yards and no touchdowns. Stanford was also without wide receiver Conor Wedington and defensive end Trey LaBounty due to COVID-19 “testing results and contact tracing protocols.”

With Mills back in the fold for Stanford, he’ll give a boost to an offense that moved down the field effectively, but couldn’t score vs. Oregon. Most of the Cardinal’s yards came from the rushing attack of Austin Jones and Nathaniel Peat. Jones hit the century mark with two touchdowns and Peat ended the night just shy with 93 yards. The story line was inconsistency. The game ended with a total of ten drives for Stanford with four missed field goals by Jet Toner and two punts.

The CU defense will look to improve off of a start that left a bit to be desired, especially in the secondary. The Buffs jumped out to a 35-7 lead in the first half before allowing UCLA 21 unanswered points to keep the game within reach for the Bruins. A majority of the 478 yards given up came by way Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s arm. Despite only completing half of his 40 passes attempted, the dual-threat had 303 yards and four touchdowns against Colorado.

The Buffaloes are looking for a fifth straight 2-0 start, which they have done 59 times in their 130-year history, and a third straight win against the Cardinal. This will be the first head-to-head matchup of CU’s Karl Dorrell and Stanford’s David Shaw, though the two were on opposite sidelines five times and NFL assistants and once when Dorrell was head coach at UCLA and Shaw as a Stanford aide.

From the Desk of Dave Plati

Stat of the week: “No Turnovers … Again. For the third straight debut by a new CU head coach, the Buffaloes did not commit a turnover. In 2013, Colorado didn’t turn it over against Colorado State in Mike MacIntyre’s first game, and the Buffs repeated the feat last year against CSU in Mel Tucker’s debut. Karl Dorrell’s first CU team completed the hat trick (and forced four turnovers). In all three games, CU didn’t even have a fumble, much less lose one.”

Obscure note of the week: “Chiaverini 525, Dorrell 507. In the battle of first games as offensive coordinators calling the plays, CU’s current OC, Darrin Chiaverini, edged out head coach Karl Dorrell’s first performance as an OC, 525-507. The Buffaloes gained 525 yards (on 92 plays) in the season opening win over UCLA last Saturday, the first time Chiaverini called the plays (as CU’s co-coordinator in 2016-17, Brian Lindgren was the play caller, and in 2018, he shared the duties).

Back in 1995, when Rick Neuheisel hired Dorrell as his OC, CU gained 507 yards (68 plays) in a 43-7 win at Wisconsin. Both efforts were balanced: The Buffs rushed for 264 yards and passed for 261 against UCLA; in ’95, Colorado had 278 passing yards and 229 on the ground. Dorrell won the edge in average per play, though, 7.5-to-5.7. Chiaverini played in that ’95 game, but did not catch any passes.”

Colorado goes to the Bay Area for the first road game of the 2020 season vs. Stanford on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 1:30 p.m. MT.

TV: ESPN

Radio: 850 KOA (Mark Johnson, Gary Barnett)

Odds: -6.5 Stanford

Weather: 59° Sunny at kickoff