2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 3 - Colorado vs. Colorado St
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Sept. 17 Colorado 28 … Colorado State 14
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) DENVER -- Tyler Hansen ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more, and the Colorado Buffaloes handed coach Jon Embree his first victory Saturday, 28-14 over rival Colorado State.
The Buffaloes (1-2) overcame a slow start and a rash of penalties to beat the Rams (2-1) for the fourth straight time in Denver.
The Rams were playing without two of their top defenders. Standout senior linebacker Mychal Sisson broke his right ankle last week and watched on crutches from the sideline with pass-rusher Broderick Sargent, who tore an ACL in CSU's opener.
The bevy of backups helped stifle the Buffs until they got their ground game going behind Rodney Stewart, who rushed 19 times for 98 yards to go with seven catches for 93 yards and two punt returns for 9 more.
Colorado receiver Paul Richardson had four catches for 27 yards and three big drops one week after setting a school record with 284 yards on 11 receptions in an overtime loss to Cal.
Hansen also threw for a school-record 474 yards in that game. This time, he was held to 215 yards passing but scored twice on keepers and threw two touchdown passes.
His second touchdown run, from 2 yards out, capped a 16-play, 85-yard drive that ate up more than 10 minutes after the Rams had pulled within 21-14 with some trickery.
Rams wide receiver Charles Lovett took a quick pass from quarterback Pete Thomas in the left flat and threw a perfect 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Crockett Gillmore early in the fourth quarter.
After Thomas' first career rushing touchdown, a 4-yard scamper on the game's opening drive, the Buffs scored touchdowns on Hansen's 2-yard keeper that marked Colorado's first rushing touchdown in 15 quarters, and Hansen's 24-yard strike to Kyle Cefalo with 12 seconds left in the first half.
In the third quarter, Hansen hit Toney Clemons for a 44-yard score when free safety Austin Gray was beaten badly.
Cefalo's score followed a couple of big breaks for the Buffaloes. Colorado State's Joe McKay got a hand on Darragh O'Neill's punt, the ball bounced for 11 yards and CSU's Eric Niederberger tried to pounce on it, only to watch it squib away from him and into the hands of Colorado's Ryan Deehan.
With the second chance, Hansen drove the Buffs down the field, capping the drive with the scoring toss to Cefalo.
The Buffs managed just 10 yards of offense in the first quarter, when they were whistled for 40 yards in penalties, but they bounced back. The Rams had just 67 yards rushing all afternoon, and Thomas threw for 157 yards but didn't get the ball into the end zone after his keeper on the first drive. He was sacked three times.
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Colorado State (2-0) vs. Colorado (0-2) in Denver Sept. 17, 1:30, ESPN3
Here's The Deal … Sometimes, a program really needs a win. Colorado really, REALLY needs to beat Colorado State.
This is always a nasty rivalry game that was extremely entertaining for a long time, and then both teams got bad, the game became irrelevant outside of the great Denver metropolitan area, and now it's a big matchup between two programs whose season might be defined by what happens.
Colorado was awful at the end of the Dan Hawkins era, but it played well over the last few games of last year
before Jon Embree took over. With a full offseason to get everything in place, the Buffs came out and fizzled with two straight losses. While the team played well in the overtime loss to California last week, it was still a loss with a slew of nasty games coming up. If the Buffs can't get past Colorado State, with a road trip to Ohio State coming up next and with road trips to Stanford and Arizona State and with Oregon still to come before the end of October, a loss this week would probably be disastrous.
The Rams have gotten off to a nice start beating New Mexico and Northern Colorado, and while that's hardly cause for doing jumping jacks, it was still a must after a disappointing 2009. Now, the road trip to Utah State is looking nasty, and Boise State is coming up soon, but if CSU can beat its rival for the second time in three years, then finally there might be a buzz about the Steve Fairchild era.
Why Colorado Might Win: The passing game is flying. It's not necessarily consistent, and the coaching staff would like to have some semblance of a running game, but Tyler Hansen is airing it out well over the first two games.
Known for being more of a runner, Hansen has been terrific so far bombing away for 474 yards and three scores against Cal, and throwing for 223 yards and two touchdowns against Hawaii despite being under pressure time after time. Colorado State has a passing game, and it has a star in the making in quarterback Pete Thomas, but the production has been mediocre against two bad teams. If you need to push to beat New Mexico, you have a problem.
The Rams are having a hard time scoring, and while Raymond Carter had a nice game against Northern Colorado, there's no running game to count on. If this gets into a shootout in any way, Colorado has the proven attack to bomb away and get into the fight, while CSU hasn't shown it can get things moving on a regular basis. If the Buffs could make Hawaii's Bryant Moniz a running quarterback, it can keep Thomas in check.
Why Colorado State Might Win: The CSU pass rush has been awesome over the first two weeks. Again, it all has to be qualified by the competition, but coming up with 11 sacks and 18 tackles for loss for a team that struggled so much to get into the backfield in the past is a major plus. Colorado's pass protection has been stunningly awful so far, giving up seven sacks and doing nothing for a ground game that should be far better with a back like Rodney Stewart to utilize. No, the Rams aren't going to come up with six sacks against the Buffs, but they're going to come up with several pressures.
If field position matters, Colorado State has a nice advantage on kickoff returns, with Derek Good coming up with a nice start averaging 29 yards per try, while Momo Thomas and the punt return game has been terrific. Colorado is dead last in the nation in kickoff returns, averaging just 12 yards per try, while the punt return game hasn't been a plus so far, either.
What To Watch Out For: Pete Thomas might be Colorado State's signature star, but linebacker Mychal Sisson is every bit as important. A pure tackler and the leader of the defense, he suffered a broken ankle on special teams and is gone for the year. It's impossible to overstate how big his loss is, and now it'll be up to freshman Max Morgan to fill the massive shoes on a big stage. Colorado will run right at the new guy and see if the Ram defense can be the same without its playmaker.
6-1, 165-pound sophomore Paul Richardson, was expected to be one of the budding stars of the Colorado offense, and he has taken to the role of the No. 1 target following up a three-catch, 49-yard, two score day against Hawaii by exploding for 11 catches for 284 yards and two touchdowns against Cal. With his deep speed and quickness, he'll be used more as a runner as well as a receiver to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.
What Will Happen: Colorado will finally have something positive to work off of. The running game will finally show up and Rodney Stewart, who has yet to break out in three games against the Rams, will come up a big performance to take the heat off Hansen. Thomas will dink and dunk his way to a nice game, but he won't put points on the board.
CFN Prediction: Colorado 31 … Colorado State 16
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Colorado -7.5 O/U: 50.5
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