After Saturday’s electric double overtime win against Colorado State University, the Colorado Buffaloes are headed to Eugene, Oregon this weekend to square off with the Oregon Ducks. Both teams come into this affair ranked in the top 20 teams in the nation. Both teams also come in to the game 3-0. This matchup will be a unique one filled with offensive fireworks as both schools have Heisman hopefuls at the quarterback position, with Oregon’s Bo Nix and Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders.
Oregon started its 2023 season off with a bang, defeating Portland State 81-7, Texas Tech 38-30 and Hawaii 55-10. It has been a breeze for Nix and this Ducks offense so far as they continue to put up huge numbers weekly against inferior opponents. Colorado will be Oregon’s first real test.
Through three games so far, Charles Kelly’s Buffs defense has been absolutely lit up through both the run game and through the air. They have given up almost 1,400 total yards of offense to their opponents in three games, which is less than ideal. However, while giving up a plethora of yards, this Colorado defense has been sensational in the turnover department.
Last week against CSU, the Buffs forced four turnovers, including three interceptions and a fumble. The week prior against the University of Nebraska Lincoln, they also forced four turnovers, including three fumbles and an interception. In week one against Texas Christian University they intercepted two passes. This has been this defense’s saving grace as they consistently generate turnovers giving the ball back to their explosive offense.
University of Colorado Boulder senior safety Shilo Sanders talked about the Buffs’ defense and their mentality.
“Our defense, we just get to that ball. That’s our specialty,” he said.
This week’s game against Oregon will be the Buffs’ toughest game yet as not only are the Ducks ranked No. 10 in the country, but Colorado will be without two-way stud Travis Hunter. Hunter will be out for at least three weeks, according to CU Boulder Head Coach Deion Sanders, after suffering a lacerated liver in the first quarter of the CSU game after a late hit from Rams safety Henry Blackburn.
“Man, losing Travis is like losing two players,” said Shilo Sanders. “I really wanted to whoop that dude that did that to him after the game.”
Losing Hunter hurts not only the offense, but also weakens an already susceptible defense that will have to be perfect if they hope to upset Oregon on Saturday afternoon. Defensively, the Buffs will look to stop the run and make Nix beat them over the top where they hope to create some turnovers. They will have to generate pressure on Nix and make him uncomfortable in the pocket, which the Buffs have struggled to do so far this season.
Offensively, Colorado will try to get the ground game going against a questionable Ducks defensive line, but look for the usual suspects in Dylan Edwards, Xavier Weaver, Jimmy Horn Jr. and now Michael Harrison to have big games. At quarterback, Shedeur Sanders has been sensational for three weeks and has no plans of slowing down now because they face a tougher opponent in Oregon.
From the other side:
I interviewed Joseph Krasnowski, a student journalist at the opposing campus newspaper, The Daily Emerald, to get his thoughts on Saturday’s matchup.
What is Oregon’s biggest weakness and how can Colorado exploit it?
“I think it’s Oregon’s defensive line, they have not been great. Shedeur Sanders can definitely have a lot of time in the pocket [in this game].”
Who is the biggest X-factor for Oregon in this game?
“The running backs, Bucky Irving specifically. If they can get the ground game going, CU will struggle. I also think Troy Franklin and Tez Washington will both have big games.”
What do you expect from the Oregon defense?
“I anticipate a high-scoring game, this is the first real offense the Ducks have faced.”
What is your final stat line prediction for Oregon quarterback Bo Nix?
“I’ll say 300 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown.”
Will the Ducks cover the 21-point spread and what is the final score prediction?
“No, I don’t think the Ducks cover the 21 points, but I will say the final score is 38-28 in favor of Oregon.”
While the last time the Buffs beat the Ducks dates all the way back to 2016, America can’t yet doubt Deion ‘Coach Prime’ Sanders and this Colorado team. The current spread is 21 points, favoring the Ducks, even though the Buffs team is 3-0. Travis Hunter is out and the defense has struggled, but 21 points is simply too many. Look for Colorado to cover this spread and maybe even sneak out a win against a Ducks team that has only played unranked teams through 2023 so far. Kickoff is at 1:30 P.M. M.T. at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. The game will stream on ABC.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Griffin Dreifaldt at Griffin Dreifaldt@colorado.edu