KICKING THE TIRES: The University of Colorado

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Kansas State Wildcats (4-3 | 2-1) VS. Colorado Buffaloes (2-4 | 1-1)

Homecoming
Bill Snyder Family Stadium - Manhattan, Kan.
Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009 - 11:30 AM CST

FCS

 

Flush off an upset victory over the overrated Kansas Jayhawks, the Buffaloes storm into town looking to tie us for first place in the Big 12 North.

Click the jump for my usual statistical/opinionated analysis. For more detailed information, see The Ralphie Report.

KEY PLAYERS

 

K-State

Passing
Grant Gregory (33 of 50, 411 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT)

Receiving
Brandon Banks (30 catches, 354 yards, 1 TD)

Rushing
Daniel Thomas (145 carries, 669 yards, 8 TD)

Wild Card
Jeffrey Fitzgerald (22 tackles, 7 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 2 FR, 2 FF)

 

CU

Passing
Tyler Hansen (17 of 30, 192 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT)

Receiving
Scotty McKnight (35 catches, 370 yards, 3 TD)

Rushing
Rodney Stewart (104 carries, 418 yards, 5 TD)

Wild Card
Riar Geer (25 catches, 284 yards, 3 TD)

 

KEY STATS

Rushing Offense
K-State (33 | +5) > CU (108)

Passing Offense
CU (61) > K-State (95 | -4)

Total Offense
K-State (69 | +6) > CU (103)

Scoring Offense
K-State (58 | +41) > CU (78)

Rushing Defense
K-State (26 | +24) > CU (66)

Pass Efficiency Defense
K-State (68 | +16) > CU (102)

Total Defense
K-State (47 | +6) > CU (96)

Scoring Defense
K-State (63 | +3) > CU (100)

Net Punting
K-State (89 | +3) > CU (114)

Punt Returns
K-State (31 | -3) > CU (107)

Kickoff Returns
K-State (7 | +16) > CU (26)

Turnover Margin
K-State (24 | +37) > CU (77)

Pass Defense
K-State (81 | -16) > CU (105)

Passing Efficiency
K-State (55 | +16) > CU (109)

 

Analysis

Last week, there was a whole lotta red. This week, it's all about the green, baby.

On paper, we should dominate Colorado. Yes, their performance last week was impressive from an emotional standpoint, but as Kevin Romary once said, by this time in the season, "ya are who ya are."

Colorado still can't run the ball with any consistency (108th in the nation). A quarterback change won't help that much — that problem is on the offensive line.

Tyler Hansen also will be hard-pressed to raise the Buffaloes' overall offensive numbers (103rd in the country), despite bringing more of a run threat to the table. That's because the Buffs still have the weakest set of wide receivers in the Big 12.

On defense, Colorado truly struggles to cover the pass (102nd in pass efficiency defense), which is instant death in most Big 12 games. Not so much against us, but something tells me Grant Gregory should have a solid outing regardless. Yes, Colorado generated pressure on Kansas for the first time all season, but I still think that was more about the Jayhawks' crappy interior OL than it was about Colorado's DL. Plus, Colorado has one of the least talented and least disciplined secondaries in the country — which you saw if you watched the second half, when Reesing lobbed jump ball after jump ball against them for huge gains.

Colorado's overall scoring defense isn't much better (100th).

In the field position, we also have a huge advantage, and it's not just because of Brandon Banks. At 114th in the nation, Colorado is the first team we have played all year that is worse than us in net punting. I didn't think that was possible, even though we have made incremental improvements each week.

On the flip side, the Buffaloes are 107th in punt returns. We could be playing a lot on the opponent's side of the 50 for the second straight week.

Finally, to complete the ignominy, Colorado is 105th in passing defense and 109th in passing efficiency.

Look, I know Buff fans are all excited about Hansen, and rightfully so, but Cody Hawkins didn't punt or play defense. Colorado is 2-4 for a reason, and I haven't seen that many sub-100 statistics since ... well, Ron Prince's team last year. But even Prince's teams were better on offense than Colorado has been.

Don't read too much into the rushing defense performances against Texas and Kansas, either. Both teams look to throw first, throw second and then maybe run third. Both got behind early and threw to catch up. Both have suffered injuries to their starting running backs this season, and Texas had an injured backup, too. Neither team has Daniel Thomas.

The more I examine this matchup, the harder it is for me to envision Colorado winning. Hell, the one category the Buffs outclass us in — passing offense (they are 61st; we're 95th) — isn't even really an advantage, because they chose to make themselves a one-dimensional passing team and ride Cody Hawkins' arm, for some reason. Passing offense measures pure yardage, but a much better measure of pure passing power is passing efficiency, or yards per throw/catch. We're 55th and they're 109th. Gregory is the most efficient quarterback in Big 12 play so far.

And I haven't even talked about intangibles yet. We're 3-0 at home (and should have at least 45,000 fans there tomorrow), 2-0 in day games and 2-0 on FCS (not that that really means anything). And we have the best coach in America.

I'm not trying to slight Buffs. To pull off the win last week like they did and give themselves even a shred of hope after the terrible start they endured is impressive and commendable. But they're still not a great team. We're not a great team, either, but even through our early struggles we have looked better in all phases of the game than Colorado has. We're better coached, have better athletes across the board and are playing at home. There is no excuse to lose this game, and if we do, our season pretty much is over.

Key stats to watch for: We need to jump on them early and score at least three touchdowns in the game. K-State is 3-0 when leading after halftime (and 3-0 when leading after the third quarter) and 4-0 when scoring 20 or more points. Stifling the Buffs on defense will help, too; we're 2-0 when allowing 10 points or less (and 74-0 since 1990). Most important, we must protect the ball (duh). K-State is 2-0 when we don't turn it over.

Factor in that we have yet to run back a punt or block a punt and probably are due, and I think it could end up being a long day for the Buffs if all goes well.

Like I said, on paper, we should win. But games aren't played on paper. That 11:30 a.m. start continues to worry me, as does our inconsistency this season. But the Buffaloes' upset of Kansas had to be emotionally draining, and this will be a taxing road trip for them. At some point, you just gotta have faith in Bill Snyder. I'm picking it close, but if we turned the corner I think we did last week, it could end up ugly.

Prediction: Kansas State 31, Colorado 26

 

BracketCat's Projected Starters

QB: Grant Gregory
FB: Braden Wilson*
RB: Daniel Thomas

WR: Brandon Banks, Lamark Brown, Attrail Snipes**
TE: Jeron Mastrud
OL: Nick Stringer, Zach Kendall, Wade Weibert, Kenneth Mayfield, Clyde Aufner

DL: Prizell Brown, Daniel Calvin, Antonio Felder, Jeffrey Fitzgerald
LB: John Houlik, Ulla Pomele
DB: Troy Butler, Stephen Harrison, Tysyn Hartman, Emmanuel Lamur, Joshua Moore

*if we start with a fullback and two wide receivers
**if we start with three wide receivers and no fullback

 

Elsewhere in the Big 12...

Oklahoma State won in College Station, so they shouldn't have too many problems in Waco, either.

I know Nebraska is having an identity crisis right now, but Memorial Stadium is an exceedingly tough place to play (and coach). I suspect Iowa State used up all of its good luck karma against KU and K-State, and still didn't get the job done. The Huskers will get right tomorrow.

I know I said yesterday that OU will win, and I still believe that to be the case. But this is the first of OU's challenging "L" games (Lawrence, Lubbock, Lincoln), and I just can't shake that ugly feeling I had in 2007 that KU might find a way to win. At any rate, I'm picking the Hawks solely to jinx them, so don't read too much into it.

Everyone is predicting a huge blowout in Lubbock, but wouldn't it just be like the Aggies to find a way to win that game? I don't think they will, but if they have any pride left, it might be closer than most think.

Longhorns will get it done. I'm not impressed by Missouri at all and I'm starting to think they actually might have the worst coach in the North, not Colorado. Yeeouch.

 

#14 Oklahoma State at Baylor (Versus)
Cowboys 29, Bears 23

Iowa State at Nebraska (FSN)
Cornhuskers 30, Cyclones 16

#25 Oklahoma at #24 Kansas (ABC)
Jayhawks 22, Sooners 21

Texas A&M at #21 Texas Tech
Red Raiders 35, Aggies 15

#3 Texas at Missouri (ABC)
Longhorns 23, Tigers 14

 

All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out - it's pretty cool.

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