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Know Thy Enemy: Colorado Buffaloes

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Who are these Buffaloes from the Mile High State?

Air Force v Colorado Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

2019 record: 3-2 (1-1)

Key Numbers + Info (2019 season)

OOC Opponents: Colorado State, Nebraska, United States Air Force Academy

Points per game: 34.60

Points allowed per game: 31.60

Avg. yards per rush: 3.9

Avg. yards per rush allowed: 4.3

Avg. rush yards per game: 146.8

Avg. rush yards per game allowed: 157.0

Rushing TDs: 9 for, 9 against

Avg. pass yards per game: 300.20

Avg. pass yards per game allowed: 313.60

Avg per attempt: 8,43

Avg per attempt allowed: 9.50

Passing TDs: 11 for, 12 against

Collective Pass Completion Rate: 67%

Collective Pass Completion Rate Against: 66%

Leading Rusher: Alex Fontenot (89 rushes for 392 yards and four TDs)

Leading Receiver: Tony Brown (29 receptions for 442 yards and four TD)

Leading Tackler: Nate Landman (53 tackles, 1.0 tackles for loss)

Analytics

Credit to Zane Murffit of Cougcenter.com for doing the Sports Source Analytics charts weekly. They are an immense help. Here’s a glossary to help you translate the numbers.

Win probability

credit: Florida Cup and /u/rcfbuser

As you can see in the image above, Colorado has a win probability of 14.4% against Oregon. Also the link, is the explanation behind the formula of the win probability for all teams. Oregon’s win probability chart as seen below for comparison.

Oregon has just a 10.3% chance of running the table in conference undefeated. You taking those odds?

Colorado Offense vs. Oregon Defense

Colorado’s success rate on pass and run matches the counting stats to a T. The Buffaloes are a pass first team clearly, ranking in the top 25 for yards per pass. They average nearly 8 yards per attempt.

Oregon ranks in the top 5 in both third down conversion rate and yards per pass attempt allowed so it’s a match-up of strength on strength. Colorado has converted 46.15% of its third downs but Oregon has given up only 32.14% on defense.

Colorado has to run the ball in order to have a chance to control clock and limit Oregon’s inconsistent offense against a surprisingly bendy Ducks run defense. The stuff rate is surprising given the anemic run attack.

Oregon’s defense is simply unfair in the red zone and stopping the explosive play. Colorado is above average in those categories.

They key match-up will be havoc rate as both teams rank in the top 15. It will be interesting to see which offense or defense can counter the other’s passing game.

Colorado is MUCH better than Cal in terms of explosion plays ranking above average in the FBS in the pass game but well below average in the run game as the stats bear out.

Oregon dropped a bit from last week’s numbers in stopping the explosive pass plays due to several long third down conversions but still rank 18th, allowing 10% on those type of plays.

Oregon is still the top ranked defense in limiting scoring opportunities inside the 40 while Colorado is 25th, which is miles better than Cal. Another strength on strength match-up here.

Colorado’s weakness is second down, converting only 36% on those downs while their strength is on first and third downs, converting 46% of those situations. Oregon’s defense is fearsome on second down but can be had on third downs to a certain degree, allowing a 32% conversion rate.

Oregon Offense vs Colorado Defense

As you can see, Oregon’s offense should have a bit of a better time of things against Colorado’s lowly ranked defensive metrics in comparison to Cal’s defense. The run game success rate jumped a whopping 19 places from the week prior to Cal after a rather successful outing despite the numerous turnovers. It will be interesting to see how the pass game fares against the 115th pass defense unit. If it doesn’t go any better, time to worry, folks.

It’s damning how bad Colorado is this season in their defensive metrics. Oregon is averaging 6.36 yards per play while the Buffs are allowing a whopping 6.76 per play. Colorado’s pass defense is a mess, allowing a mindblowing nearly 8.7 yards per pass attempt while Oregon is going for 7.59.

Where the Buffs can attempt to fix things is in the run game where Oregon can struggle at times. Oregon is 65th in the country rushing for 5 yards per carry while Colorado allows 4.8 ypc. The Ducks need to set up the pass to run, clearly. Let’s hope Marcus Arroyo realizes this.

Oregon converts 39% of its third downs and the Buffs are allowing a 50% conversion rate to their opponents.

Clearly, the numbers for the Ducks offense and Buffs’ defense are lopsided in overall explosive play rate and passing explosive rate. Where the Buffs can hang around is in the run explosive rate as the Ducks haven’t quite figured out what they want to do as a running team. The Ducks offense ranks within the top 25 in terms of converting scoring opportunities inside the opponent’s 40, which suffered a bit after having three consecutive turnovers last weekend.

If you look at this chart, the game clearly will be decided on second and third downs on Oregon’s offensive chances where they are dominating over the Buffs woebegone defensive numbers. Where the Buffs can attack and attempt to neutralize the Ducks’ attack is on first down but allowing over eight yards per passing attempt will get them in terrible situations defensively.

Oregon

% of Plays Passing Attempts: 51%

% of Red Zone Plays Passing Attempts : 37%

Total TDs: 24

Total Pass TD: 17

Total Rush TD: 6

Total Red Zone TD: 17

Red Zone Pass TD: 12

Red Zone Rushing TD: 5

% of Red Zone Plays Passing Attempts : 37%

% of Red Zone Plays Rushing Attempts : 63.16%

Colorado

% of Plays Passing Attempts: 51%

% of Red Zone Plays Passing Attempts : 37%

Total TDs: 21

Total Pass TD: 11

Total Rush TD: 9

Total Red Zone TD: 12

Red Zone Pass TD: 4

Red Zone Rushing TD: 8

% of Red Zone Plays Passing Attempts : 37%

% of Red Zone Plays Rushing Attempts : 63.33%

Unsurprisingly, Oregon is running the ball more in the red zone but have more passing touchdowns in that area. Defenses are gearing up to stop the run so Marcus Arroyo is dialing up more pass plays. They are far more balanced overall, going 51 to 49 pass to run.

Colorado is a near carbon copy of Oregon in terms of pass to run overall. Although they have more rushing touchdowns than passing touchdowns in the red zone.

Oregon

Possessions Per Game: 12.400 (Conference Rank: #1)

Touchdowns Per Possession %: 38.71% (Rank #5)

Points Per Possession: 2.758 (Rank #7)

Total Possessions: 62

Points: 171

Field Goal Attempt: 4

Punts: 22

Total Lost Turnovers: 5

Turnover % (what % of possessions resulted in a turnover): 8.06% (Rank: #6)

Colorado

Possessions Per Game: 11.600 (Rank #5)

Touchdowns Per Possession %: 36.21% (Rank #7)

Points Per Possession: 2.983 (Rank #6)

Total Possessions: 58

Points: 173

Field Goal Attempt: 9

Punts: 22

Total Lost Turnovers: 4

Turnover % (what % of possessions resulted in a turnover): 6.90% (Rank #3)

Key players to watch

1. Nate Landman 6’3 235 LB Junior

  • He’s a throwback type of inside linebacker that hits hard but is barely an above average athlete. Instinctive and is generally in the picture. Special teams type of guy at the next level because of his downhill hitting.

2. Mustafa Johnson 6’2 290 EDGE / DT Junior

  • The other Buffs defender that’s getting some draft hype is Johnson. He’s very good at getting after the passer. Also is above average in the run game. Well coached and that should continue with HC Mel Tucker in town.

3. Laviska Shenault, Jr 6’2 220 WR Junior

  • The do everything playmaker for the Buffs on offense. He’s been used seemingly in every conceivable way as a receiver for them. Without him, the Buffs struggled mightily on offense last season. He’s one of the best receivers in college football that isn’t on Clemson or Alabama’s roster.

Keys to an Oregon Win

  • Pass game. Colorado is exceptionally bad defending the pass so Marcus Arroyo needs to emphasize the pass to set up the run concept. Justin Herbert needs to buck a disturbing trend of his not throwing receivers open.
  • Offensive line. Colorado is a bit banged up on the defensive line so the OL needs to lean on them to wear them out. The analytics show that the Buffs are equally as awful defending the run as they are at the pass. The Ducks seemingly improved in the run game against a stingy Cal defense so an continued improvement will be vital.
  • Defense. Colorado’s offense provides the biggest test for Andy Avalos’ unit to date this season. Just two years ago, Steven Montez had good memories of the Ducks. Stop the pass game with a very good secondary and the Ducks should win. The defensive line suffered a critical loss with the injury to Gus Cumberlander. Can Kayvon Thibodeaux carry the load?

Keys to an Oregon Loss

  • Turnovers. Oregon got away with one last week after giving the ball away numerous times on short fields to lose potential points. Can’t be repeated against a top offense that can exploit it this week. Pac-12 After Dark is always weird.
  • Special teams. Outside of the weekly Ray Guy impressions that Blake Maimone has been doing, it has been abysmal. To convert the first field goal almost halfway through the season is quite the less than ideal start for young Camden Lewis. Punt returns have been issue in terms of fielding the ball or just getting away from contacting the ball.
  • Prevent offense. Against a highly capable offense such as Colorado’s, the Ducks need to stay aggressive for the entirety of the 60 minutes. Which is to say, they need to go against the very conservative DNA that Coach Cristobal has implanted into this team. It isn’t helped by the most risk averse QB we’ve seen in Ducks history.

What are the odds?

(all odds courtesy of vegasinsider.com)

The Westgate SuperBook lists Oregon as 21 point favorites with the O/U of 59. The money line is Oregon -1800 Colorado +1000

William Hill has Oregon as 21 point favorites with the O/U being 59. Their money line is Oregon -1800 Colorado +1000

DraftKings has Oregon as 20.5 favorites with the O/U set at 58.5. The money line is Oregon -1667 Colorado +850

To answer your weekly question, Bill Musgrave. No you do not have know these opponents in the Biblical sense. Just know the numbers and how they operate.