For years, the Stanford football team has been known for its tough, physical style of play.
That gets Colorado linebacker Kenneth Olugbode excited.
"It's always a fun game to get to hit those linemen all of the time," the junior said.
On Saturday, the Buffaloes (4-5, 1-4 Pac-12) will host No. 9 Stanford (7-1, 6-0) at 11 a.m. at Folsom Field. The Cardinal might be the most physical team in the conference, which will be quite a change from last Saturday's game against UCLA, known more for its speed.
"I guess we'll find out Saturday," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said when asked how his team matches up with the physical Cardinal. "They are a powerful football team, offensively and defensively."
On offense, Stanford ranks third in the Pac-12 in rushing (221.8 yards per game) and fourth in scoring 36.5 points per game). The Cardinal are led by senior quarterback Kevin Hogan and sensational running back Christian McCaffrey, who leads the country with 244.3 all-purpose yards per game.
It is really the Stanford offensive line that leads the way physically, though. While McCaffrey is a star, he often doesn't get touched until a few yards past the line of scrimmage.
"Their offensive line, they have the same five offensive linemen and they're good, and they stay healthy," MacIntyre said. "Their running backs are really good, their offensive line is excellent."
Stanford has had the same five starters in all eight games, and three of them also started all 13 games in 2014. Another one started 12 of 13 games in 2014.
That experience up front presents a significant challenge to CU's defensive front.
"They have a lot of big guys up front and they're just going to try to pound the ball," Olugbode said. "That's what they've done all year and done in the past.
"They work really, really well with their technique and they get up to the second level and make sure the running backs don't get touched. We just have to play strong and play stout and hit them in the mouth."
It's going to be a similar challenge for the Buffs on offense, because the Cardinal are also stout on defense. They rank third in scoring (21.5) and second against the run (128.6).
"I think they're a big, physical team and they want to challenge us on the outside, which kind of packs the box," CU quarterback Sefo Liufau said. "I think they'll be a strong team, just like every other Pac-12 team. Maybe a little more so."
Matching Stanford's physicality will be a key to the Buffs finding success.
MacIntyre said the CU offensive line must sustain blocks and running backs are going to have to break arm tackles. Defensively, he said the Buffs need to be stable up front and stop the run.
At times, CU has shown some physicality. It'll have to show more than ever against the Cardinal.
"It's going to be a physical game," MacIntyre said.
Sticking with Liufau
MacIntyre explained the situation late in Saturday's 35-31 loss to UCLA, when Liufau hurt his right wrist but waved off backup Cade Apsay and stayed in the game.
The Buffs had called a timeout after Liufau was sacked and hurt, causing trainers to run out to check on him. MacIntyre got Apsay ready, because, by rule, a player must come out for a play if trainers attend to him on the field - unless a timeout is called.
"The referee said he could go back in, so that's why he went back in," MacIntyre said.
MacIntyre said there was no question about whether Liufau was healthy enough to continue. Trainers gave Liufau the OK to play.
"If they would have told me he couldn't have gone, he wouldn't have been back in that game," MacIntyre said.
Liufau admitted Tuesday that his wrist "hurt pretty bad," but not enough to leave the game. He said he's fine this week.
MacIntyre said the Buffs are hoping linebacker Ryan Severson (ankle) and wide receiver Jay MacIntyre (concussion) will play this week. Guard Gerrad Kough (concussion), safety Ryan Moeller (concussion) and running back Michael Adkins II (hamstring) are not expected to play. ... CU opened up its team room on Tuesday night for those players and staff members who wanted to watch the ESPN 30 for 30 special on CU and former coach Bill McCartney.