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Will They, Won’t They: Colorado Edition

3 Reasons Why the Ducks Will or Won’t Beat the Buffs

NCAA Football: Oregon at UCLA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After a big win on the road against UCLA, the Ducks return to the friendly confines of Autzen Stadium as they welcome the Colorado Buffaloes in what most expect to be a rout in the Ducks’ favor. The Buffaloes nearly upset Texas A&M early this season, but ever since, they have had some ugly losses and don’t look like they’ll pose much of a threat to Oregon.

Why They’ll Win

Ducks Defense

I might as well call this the Kayvon Thibodeaux hype section. He looked unstoppable against UCLA last week, recording nine total tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. When he’s on the field, he’s the most talented guy on either side and can single-handedly wreck a game. But we’re gonna give some love to the Ducks D as a whole, and they have a chance to beat up on a Colorado team, that quite frankly, isn’t good. Their O-Line just gave up six sacks in a blowout loss against Cal, which should speak volumes to the state of the Buffs offense.

I know what some of you might say about the Ducks defense. Yes they’ve had moments where they look dominant, and they’ve also had moments where they’ve looked vulnerable. But this Colorado offense is bad. In all 5 losses, they’ve scored less than 14 points, including getting shut out against Minnesota and only scoring 3 last week against Cal. A couple sacks by KT, a few turnovers and the rout could be on.

Record-Setting Travis Dye

Last week Travis Dye etched is his name in the NCAA record books, as he carried four touchdowns on four consecutive carries. Although he ran for the fewest yards of the season against UCLA, Dye has continued to make plays for Oregon without his running mate CJ Verdell. On the season Dye is averaging six yards a carry and scored eight touchdowns.

Dye ran rampant against Cal before a quiet game against UCLA (other than the four touchdowns of course) and he should feast on a Buffs run defense that’s allowing almost five yards a carry to opposing runners.

Brown Putting it Together

Yes, Brown threw two bad interceptions against UCLA and didn’t pass for a touchdown. Yes, Brown is who he is as a quarterback. But he also did play some pretty good football against the Bruins aside from those mistakes, and it could be something to build on. He stretched the field at times and looked more confident as a passer than he has all year.

His play last week combined with how unimpressive Colorado has looked this season could be the springboard he needs to elevate his play. Is he going to start slinging it for 400 yards and 4 TDs every week? Seems unlikely. But I believe that this game has a strong possibility of Brown’s best game of the year.

NCAA Football: Oregon at UCLA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Why They’ll Lose

Looking Ahead

This has trap game written all over it. The Ducks playing an inferior opponent right before an away game against their biggest rival? Smells like a potential disaster. Washington isn’t quite the powerhouse Husky fans tried to convince us they were going to be, but any game against the Huskies is going to be a big one. Regardless, Oregon can’t get caught up thinking about a different team before the Buffs come to Autzen, especially when their potential Playoff hopes are dangling by the win over Ohio State and their one-loss record.

NCAA Football: Colorado at California Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Buffaloes Offensive Explosions

The Buffaloes don’t really score that often, but when they do they go big. In both wins this year, Colorado has outscored their opponents 69-7. That seems like an impressive figure, but those wins came against Northern Colorado and Arizona, the team with the longest losing streak in the country.

Despite the quality of their opponents, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Buffaloes could turn in a similar performance against the Ducks. Anything can happen in college football so it’s important that the defense is at their best, no matter the opponent.

A Spark of Change

As I noted earlier, Colorado’s offensive line didn’t play well against Cal, and that has been the theme for the Buffaloes this season. The much-maligned unit has allowed 22 sacks this year, which prompted the team to relieve their O-Line coach Mitch Rodrigue of his duties. Sometimes a coaching change can inspire a team to play better. This was an offense that ran for an average of 212 yards per game in 2020, and there’s a chance that a change in the coaching staff could re-invigorate the running game in a big way against the Ducks.

While you never want to discount an opponent, Colorado has just struggled so much in their losses this year that it’s hard to believe that they’ll pose a serious threat to Oregon. Oregon hasn’t had much success in dominating inferior opponents, but this game has the making of the blowout win the Ducks should’ve had earlier in the season.

Ducks 38, Buffs 7