Week 2 Weekend Matchup: Oregon Ducks vs. Colorado Buffaloes at Autzen Stadium
When: September 24, 2016 at 2:30 p.m. PT
Vegas Over/Under: Even
Coming off a crushing loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers last weekend, followed by a gloomy Monday with injury news, the Oregon Ducks are looking to rebound on Saturday against Colorado. This week will also be the first time in almost a year that the Ducks will not be ranked within the top 25.
Similarly, the Colorado Buffaloes are also coming off a tough loss last weekend against the number three ranked Michigan Wolverines, and have also been bitten by the injury bug coming into Saturday.
Overall the Ducks and Buffaloes have played each other 20 times, with Oregon winning 12 of those matchups. However, after a ten-year period of not playing each other, the Oregon Ducks and Colorado Buffaloes renewed the series in 2011. And so far, the Ducks have won the last five games against Colorado. But this year could be different, as the odd-makers in Vegas are predicting that the game could swing in either team’s favor.
So, what does each team need to do to capture their first conference win on Saturday?
For OREGON: As the Ducks experienced last week, they need to make sure this weekend that they come out fast, avoid getting costly penalties, and build-up an early lead over Colorado while maintaining that momentum.
Oregon will also need to focus more of their attention towards protecting quarterback Dakota Prukop, especially now that the Ducks have lost senior offensive lineman, Tyrell Crosby, for the season due to a broken foot sustained last weekend. With that loss, the Ducks’ offensive line now consists of four true-freshmen, who will undoubtedly be tested on Saturday.
And the Ducks will likely be without their Heisman Trophy candidate Royce Freeman, on Saturday, who was lost to injury in the first quarter of last weekend’s game.
Fortunately for Oregon, playmakers such as Kani Benoit, Taj Griffin, and Tony Brooks-James are highly talented and are ready to be the next man up. And if used in the right situations, they could easily break loose and be the difference-makers between winning and losing.
The Ducks will also need to provide more opportunities for offensive weapons Darren Carrington and Charles Nelson, to help drive the offense and balance out the running game. Unfortunately for Oregon, they also lost star wide receiver, Devon Allen, for the season with a torn ACL in his right leg.
But perhaps even more importantly, Oregon needs to keep improving on defense by avoiding missing tackles and not giving up long distance plays. Look for defensive leaders Ugo Amadi, Arrion Springs, Jalen Jelks, and Henry Mondeaux to set the example for Oregon’s defense to achieve their best game yet.
For COLORADO: Although Colorado didn’t record a winning season last year with a record of 4-9, they come into Saturday’s matchup to prove that they are a contender in the Pac-12 conference.
Look for the Buffaloes to maximize the running game, including multiple carries from running backs Phillip Lindsay and Kyle Evans who have combined for 66 carries rushing for 286 yards and six touchdowns this season.
Also expect the Buffaloes to make more use of wide receivers Shay Fields, Bryce Bobo and Devin Ross, who thus far have combined for 35 receptions gaining 614 yards and five touchdowns.
Unfortunately for Colorado, they may be without their starting quarterback Sefo Liufau, who sprained his ankle last weekend against Michigan. So far this season, Liufau, has completed 54-76 passes, for 768 yards, including six touchdowns, and no interception. He is also considered to be a dual-threat quarterback, having scrambled away from pressure 28 times, while gaining 124 yards, and scoring one touchdown.
If Liufau has not recovered or is not ready to play on Saturday, look for backup quarterback Steven Montez to start the game, who completed 6-17 passes, for 117 yards, including two touchdowns, and no interceptions against Michigan last week.
Bottom line, Colorado will have their hands full if Oregon comes out fast, avoids costly penalties, and maintains an early lead.
Prediction: Although Colorado has improved tremendously over the past few years, the Ducks have more skill players that can be used in a variety of different situations, thus the Ducks will win this bout by a score of 42-28.
Wrap Up Notes: The Oregon Ducks will be hosting three official visits for the Colorado game from four-star wide receiver Oliver Martin, three-star defensive end My-King Johnson, and three-star inside linebacker Sampson Niu.