BOULDER—To most national pundits, Saturday’s game between the second-ranked Oregon Ducks and the Colorado Buffaloes has all the makings of a rout. The Ducks come into the game as overwhelming favorites (38.5 points) and most believe that only a miracle will keep CU in the game.
Yet those within the CU program are confident that a very different kind of contest will transpire.
“I think we should be loose and we should be ready to play,” CU coach Mike MacIntyre said Wednesday. “Nobody thinks we’re going to win. We’re the only ones that think we’re going to win. So I think that frees you up to go play as hard as you can play, so hopefully we do.”
On paper, the challenge looks like a monumental one for the Buffs. With an average margin of victory of 49 points, Oregon (4-0) has yet to be challenged in any game this season. The Ducks will come into Boulder armed with the nation’s second-best scoring offense and the fourth-best scoring defense.
As a result, many are calling them the best team in the country. And as CU attempts to bounce back after a loss at Oregon State last Saturday, players and coaches alike know that they will have to play their best game of the season if their dreams of pulling off a colossal upset are to come to fruition.
“We want to win the game and that’s our plan but we have to get to the second half (with the game still in reach),” said MacIntyre. “So we’ve got to understand the entourage we’re going to have come at us and we’ve got to bring the same thing back and we’ve got to get to halftime. If we get to halftime we’ve done better than 90 percent of the teams they’ve played. So that’s what we’re going to do then we’ll see what happens after that.”
The asset that most believe makes a team like Oregon so dangerous is speed which is visible in a variety of ways. The offense is littered with players whose 40-yard dash timings are among the fastest of any players in the country. That, combined with their extreme hurry-up no-huddle offense, often leaves opposing defenses grasping at air.
“This team is the fastest I’ve ever seen on film,” said MacIntyre. “We played Alabama my first year at San Jose State and they were fast but they didn’t play the game as fast as far as lining up and doing all that.
“They have so many other weapons. (Running back) Byron Marshall is really good. Then, the young tailback (Thomas Tyner) is a little different than those other guys. He’s bigger but he can really run. He’s a good player, but to me the fastest guy on the field is the quarterback (Marcus Mariota). I mean he’s unbelievably fast.”
To MacIntyre and his coaching staff, the only way to beat a team with that much firepower is to limit possessions, force turnovers and try to keep the Ducks offense off the field for as long as possible.
“Getting turnovers steals a possession from them and the fewer possessions they have the better chance we have,” said MacIntyre. “It doesn’t matter how long they have it because they score so quick, it’s just about getting the possession. So if you can keep them from getting seven possessions instead of ten that’s three times they’re not going to score. So I think that’s important.”
NOTABLE: MacIntyre has been very impressed with the play of his redshirting freshmen class in practice thus far this season. He specifically lauded the efforts of running back Phillip Lindsay, wide receivers Bryce Bobo and Elijah Dunston, offensive lineman Sam Kronshage and defensive linemen Derek McCartney and Markeis Reed. He says have all improved considerably since the end of fall camp . . . . The Buffs will have two more days of practice in preparation for Oregon before Saturday’s 4 p.m. kickoff at Folsom Field. The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network.