The University of Colorado football team is back in Boulder this Friday against Stanford University. The Buffaloes head into this game following a close victory against Arizona State last week which improved their season record to 4-2. Stanford has lost four straight heading into Friday night but after a bye last week they’ll be well rested for the matchup.
Colorado football completed the first half of their regular season with last week’s win over Arizona State and by all measures the Coach Prime era has so far been a resounding success. That being said, the second half of the season will be a grind for this Colorado team. After Stanford, they will close the season playing four top-20 ranked teams in UCLA, Oregon State, Washington State, and Washington, plus an Arizona team that nearly beat #10 USC a week ago. Out of those teams, 1-4 Stanford is the most winnable game left on the Buffs’ schedule.
What to watch for on the Colorado side:
Colorado’s Running Backs– While it’s certainly been a struggle for this Buffs’ offense to generate any form of rushing attack, there’s been a marked improvement the past two weeks in run game success. For the first four weeks of the season Colorado averaged a dismal 55.7 rushing yards per game, but they’ve flipped to an average of 124.5 rushing yards per game in the past two weeks.
Despite the recent success, some members of Colorado’s running back group have barely played. Houston transfer Alton McCaskill accounted for over 1000 yards in 2021 and Kentucky transfer Kavosiey Smoke has averaged over 5 yards per attempt during his career. “That’s probably the best collective group on our team, the running back room. It’s just tough to get them carries. Kovasiey Smoke is a dawg man… you’re gonna see [Alton McCaskill] this week,” said Coach Sanders this week. Expect some new contributors to the running game this week against Stanford.
Travis Hunter– The return of Travis Hunter is imminent. No surprise, the first question Coach Sanders was asked in his Tuesday press conference was about the health of his cornerback/receiver. “There’s a tremendous chance [Travis Hunter] could play,” Sanders responded. He went on to confirm that Hunter has been cleared to return to play and it’s now the coaching staff’s decision on his availability Friday night. Don’t expect any ruling on Travis’ availability before game day, but the outlook is good that he will be back on the field against Stanford for the first time since the Colorado State game.
What to watch for on the Stanford side:
EJ Smith– Coach Sanders made it clear how he felt about playing against former teammates’ kids when asked about USC’s Brendan Rice, the son of Jerry Rice, stating “I couldn’t care less. I care about all my kids that have on a Colorado Buffaloes uniform.” However, Stanford running back EJ Smith, the son of hall of fame running back and Sanders’ longtime teammate, Emmit Smith, might be worth taking note of. Smith and running back committee partner Casey Filkins will look to have big days against a weak Colorado rush defense that ranks 96 out of 130 division one football teams. Although both Smith and Filkins (and Stanford as a whole) have struggled so far this year, they’ll see Colorado as a good opportunity to reset their season.
David Bailey’s Slump– Stanford’s sophomore edge rusher David Bailey came into the year with high expectations after a productive freshmen year and has so far met expectations by pacing his team in quarterback sacks in 2023. After starting the season with a monster game against the University of Hawaii, in which Bailey had 3.0 sacks and 4 tackles for loss, the Stanford pass rusher has only had a single sack in the four games since. The reason for this is somewhat straightforward, Stanford has played good offensive lines including an Oregon team that has only let up 3 sacks all season. However, the Colorado offensive line has struggled all season and ranks in the bottom ten of the country in sacks allowed, something they have in common with the Hawaii team David Bailey obliterated week one. Bailey will be looking to break out of his slump going up against Colorado’s offensive line.
Friday night’s matchup will be the highest a Deion Sanders Colorado football team has been favored in a game, with Vegas setting the line at 11.5 in favor of the Buffaloes. This seems fair, Stanford has struggled immensely during coach Troy Taylor’s first season with the program. Expect a second straight Colorado win before the Week eight bye.
The game will be played at 8:00 PM Mountain Time on Friday, October 13 at Folsom Field and will be broadcasted live on ESPN.
Contact CU Independent staff writer Charlie Hewitt at email@example.com.