The University of Colorado football team (4-4) will return to play in Boulder Saturday night to take on No. 16 Oregon State University (6-2). After a difficult loss last week against the University of California Los Angeles, the Oregon State Beavers represent a similarly, and arguably more difficult challenge for the Buffs.
The big story that will dominate Colorado football’s end of the season is the looming question of bowl eligibility. Six wins are needed for the Buffaloes to reach the postseason in Deion Sanders’ first year as head coach, but an intimidating schedule lies ahead. Beginning with Oregon State, a team that has been ranked all year, Colorado will finish the season with games against the University of Arizona, Washington State University and No. 18 University of Utah. In familiar territory, Colorado will enter these last four games as underdogs. With the odds stacked against them to clinch a bowl game, the Buffaloes will make their first attempt at an upset Saturday.
What to watch for on the Colorado side:
The Buffaloes’ ever-struggling offensive line – Many spoke negatively about the Colorado offensive line after Saturday’s game against UCLA, and the offensive line deserved it. They played a terrible game, giving up six sacks. Shedeur Sanders was constantly under pressure. Coach Sanders even said, “the big picture, you go get new linemen,” after witnessing these struggles.
Offensive linemen don’t have any real stats attached to their name and often go unnoticed. In fact, they’re only noticed when they play badly. When actually looking at the film, a few things stand out. First, the offensive tackles or the exterior lineman are the main issues, and second, the whole line displays poor communication. Left tackle Isaiah Jatta, who coaches quickly subbed for Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan, and right tackle Savion Washington allowed almost a dozen pressures and a few sacks each. Both sides looked slow and non-physical. Concerning communication, the UCLA defense involved a lot of disguises in their pass rushes and Colorado linemen looked befuddled by it. They didn’t aid each other, and this lack of awareness allowed defenders to get free shots at the quarterback. The offensive line will need to improve in these categories for any chance at victory Saturday.
The locker room security at Folsom Field– At the UCLA game, players’ personal items were stolen from the Colorado locker room at the Rose Bowl stadium. According to Sanders, UCLA players were robbed as well.
“All that stuff should be replaced. This is the Rose Bowl, the granddaddy of them all. I’m sure grandaddy has some money,” Sanders said during a press conference on Tuesday.
Whether or not the NCAA will accommodate this request remains to be determined. However, Colorado will undoubtedly have upped security surrounding the football team’s locker room.
What to watch for on the Oregon State side:
Oregon State quarterback DJ Uiagalelei – OSU’s quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has led an unconventional collegiate career. Once the successor to national champion quarterback Trevor Lawrence at Clemson University in South Carolina, DJ disappointed as a starter and could not continue the dominance the Tigers once had under Lawrence. Transferring to Oregon State this off-season, Uiagalelei has thrived away from the spotlight and is on pace to set career highs in nearly all passing statistics. That said, the quarterback entered a favorable situation at Oregon State. The Beavers have one of the best offensive lines in the country, and were recently named to the Joe Moore award watchlist. Facing less pressure from pass rushers, Uiagalelei has played great, but Travis Hunter and Colorado’s secondary haven’t needed quarterback pressures to succeed.
“[Hunter]’s an instinctive player, really smart, understands the coverage. One of [the interceptions last Saturday] he’s sitting there jumping an inside route, baiting the quarterback the second time with his length,” said Oregon State head coach Jonathon Smith on Monday. While Oregon State will have time to throw on Saturday, forcing Uiagalelei to turn the ball over may be the equalizer Colorado needs.
Damien Martinez and the Beavers’ rushing attack – As mentioned, OSU’s offensive line has been impressive this season, and they have been especially good at run blocking, where they rank second in the nation. Behind his impressive offensive line, star running back Damien Martinez has rushed for 763 yards and 3 touchdowns so far this season. The Beavers’ ability to run the ball well has contributed greatly to their elite red zone offense. They have come away with points on 28 of their 29 possessions within their opponents 25-yard-line. The Buffaloes, on the other hand, have allowed points on only 26 of their opponent’s 36 possessions in the red zone, tied for No. 15 in the nation. Look forward to a battle between those two units when the ball gets near the end zone on Saturday.
Vegas has Oregon State as a 13.5 point favorite over Colorado this weekend. While Colorado remains the underdog, expect them to make a close game out of it like with UCLA.
The Buffs will play at Folsom Field in Boulder on Saturday at 8 p.m. MST, and ESPN will broadcast the game.
Contact CU Independent staff writer Charlie Hewitt at email@example.com