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CU@Game CU At The Game: Idaho State – A Preview

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    Colorado v. Idaho State – “T.I.P.S.” for the Buffs’ Home Opener




    Can you remember the last time Colorado was a 38-point favorite?

    Sure you can.

    It was last September, when the Buffs opened as a 50-point favorite over Nicholls. By the end of the week, the line dropped to 45 points … a good thing for those who waited to bet on the Buffs.

    The result of the contest? Colorado 48, Nicholls 0.

    Last September, Colorado, fresh off of a 27-24 overtime win over Colorado State, posted 636 yards of total offense against Nicholls while holding the Colonels to 166 yards. The shutout for the Buffs was the first for the program since 2009, with Phillip Lindsay going for 113 rushing yards, with Donovan Lee posting 103 (on only ten carries).

    Look for more of the same this Saturday (3:30 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Networks) against the Bengals.

    This one could – should – be over early, allowing Buff fans to bask in the sun, check their phones for updates of other games, and/or make frequent trips to the beer garden.

    Yes, Virginia, there are the Eastern Washington’s and Northern Iowa’s of the college football world (and, for Virginia, there are the Richmond’s of the world), FCS teams which have enough quality players that they can stay with – and beat – Power-Five conference schools.

    Idaho State ain’t one of those schools …





    T – Talent


    If we must …

    Quarterback Tanner Gueller will be making his fourth career start this upcoming weekend in Boulder. Gueller opened the 2016 season with a decent performance against Division II Simon Fraser, going 24-for-36 for 338 yards and three touchdowns.

    Good numbers, but this was against a Clansman team (yes, that is the nickname for Simon Fraser) which hasn’t won a game in almost two years (since you asked, it was an October, 2014, thriller over South Dakota School of Mines). Simon Fraser’s closest brush with victory in 2015 came in a disappointing 38-35 loss … to Dixie State.

    At Tuesday’s press conference, CU head coach Mike MacIntyre put the best spin on the Bengals as he could.

    “Their offense is just like Hawai’i’s was last year that gave us problems,” said MacIntyre. “They run a 4-3 defense. We’ll have to get ready for that. They have wide ends like Oregon State used to do, so that will affect our tackles on pass protection. We’re going to have to do well there. They’re playing well; their punt returner is back and have some good players that have been making a lot of plays. They killed the team they played the other day, Simon Fraser. They’re a good football team that will come in here ready to beat us.”

    Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie chimed in: “We’ve watched a lot of film already, and they’ve got two pretty good outside receivers and a pretty good tight end,” said Awuzie. “Their running back is pretty fast, and I think their quarterback got second team all-conference. They’re a pretty well developed offense, so it’ll come down to us playing our game and doing what we do best.”

    I like the Buffs’ chances of doing just that …





    I – Intangibles


    Both teams have been in similar positions in the past twelve months to what they are facing this Saturday.

    Last year, Colorado was able to return to Boulder after defeating CSU in Denver and take on an FCS school which was in the bottom half of its conference. The result: the 48-0 shutout of Nicholls.

    Last year, Idaho State was able to open the season with a convincing win over a lesser opponent (a 55-0 win over Black Hills State), only to be brought back to reality before September was out (a 52-0 loss to Boise State followed by an 80-8 loss to UNLV).

    Then there is (pleasant) reality that this year’s Buff team seems to be very focused, and isn’t about to let one good game get into their heads. “We don’t want to give any games away, we don’t want to have any close games if possible,” said quarterback Sefo Liufau. “So, we treat Idaho State with the greatest respect. They’re a great team and anything can happen in any given week in college football so we want to come out strong and put our best foot forward.”

    If you are looking for a small kernel of hope for the Bengals, look to their head coach. Mike Kramer is no stranger to Folsom Field … he was on the opposing sideline in 2006 when Montana State shocked Colorado, 19-10, in Dan Hawkins’ debut as the Colorado head coach.

    “We’ve already shown them that game and some highlights of it,” said MacIntyre of the mind-numbing loss to the Bobcats. “He’s a heck of a coach; he’s won everywhere he’s been. He’s not afraid of coming in here, I know that.”

    Nice coach-speak, but I’m not buying.

    If anything … having Mike Kramer on the opposing sideline will only help to keep the CU coaches and players focused on the task at hand.





    P – Preparation/Schedule


    The 47-3 opening win against Simon Fraser was a good confidence builder for the Idaho State. The Bengals came into the 2016 season on a five-game losing streak, finishing last year’s campaign with a 2-9 overall record (with the wins coming over North Dakota and Black Hills State).

    Now the Bengals have to go on the road to take on the Buffs and the Oregon State Beavers in successive weeks.

    Ouch.

    The beatdowns by Boise State and UNLV suffered last September … by a combined score of 132-8 … have to be in the minds of the Idaho State players.

    Meanwhile, Colorado has a challenge of its own this week … trying not to look past the Bengals. With the Buffs’ first mention in national polls since 2008, it would be human nature for the Colorado players (and coaches) to be looking past Idaho State and dreaming of a signature win in Ann Arbor next weekend.

    With a national “respect” game looming, it would be understandable if the Buffs started out slow against the Bengals, and only got their act together later in the first half (or even after halftime).

    I don’t think so.

    I think these Buffs are determined to show that their dominant first quarter against the Rams was not a fluke, and will come out with fire in their eyes against the Bengals.





    S – Statistics


    I have to say, as a stats geek, I’ve been waiting a long time for this.

    Yes, it was only the first game of the season.

    Yes, it was “only” Colorado State.

    But, it’s been awhile since Colorado has had such a dominating performance against a team which has gone bowling the previous season.

    Some numbers after Week One:

    — Total offense: 578 yards – 16th in the nation. The last time CU finished in the top 20: 1999;

    — Total defense: 225 yards – 22nd in the nation. The last time CU finished in the top 25: 1998;

    — Scoring offense: 44.0 ppg. – 41st in the nation. The last time CU finished in the top 50: 2001;

    — Scoring defense: 7.0 ppg. – 15th in the nation. The last time CU finished in the top 20: 1991.

    … and those numbers are likely to get even better next week after the Idaho State game …

    Reality will kick by the end of September … We have to wait and see how the Buffs’ numbers look after the Michigan and Oregon games.

    But, at least for now, it’s looking like it’s going to be a very good year for stats from the University of Colorado football team.





    Prediction … Three FCS teams (Richmond, Northern Iowa and Eastern Washington) beat three Power-Five conference teams (Virginia, Iowa State, and Washington State) in the opening weekend of the 2016 college football season.

    Colorado in its history is only 4-2 against FCS teams, losing to two Big Sky conference teams, Montana State and Sacramento State.

    So, it is possible that Colorado could lose to Idaho State … but very unlikely.

    The only two real issues for the Buffs and the Buff Nation this Saturday: 1) will Colorado beat the 38-point spread?; and 2) will Colorado emerge from the game without any serious injuries?

    The second question is out of the Buffs’ control … the first is very much under their control.

    I foresee a dominating win, but it’s hard to ever pick a team to win by 38 points.

    Okay, maybe this time

    … Colorado 49, Idaho State 7 …



    —–

    Stuart
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