CU linebackers vs. Oregon running backs
Last week against Michigan, the Buffs were burned by big plays to the outside. Oregon has more speed than Michigan had, and CU has to find a way to contain that speed. Linebackers Jimmie Gilbert, Kenneth Olugbode, Rick Gamboa and Addison Gillam must be on their game this week to slow down the talented running backs of Oregon.
Buffaloes at a glance
Passing - Sefo Liufau, Sr.: 54-for-76, 768 yards, 6 TD, 0 INT
Rushing - Phillip Lindsay, Jr.: 39 carries, 176 yards, 4 TD
Receiving - Devin Ross, Jr.: 18 catches, 202 yards, 4 TD
Tackles - Kenneth Olugbode, Sr.: 24 tackles (20 solo)
3 questions facing CU
1. Will Sefo Liufau play?
The senior sprained his right ankle in last week's 45-28 loss to Michigan and practiced on a limited basis this week. If he's able to play, CU's chances at victory are much better. Liufau is having his best season and he's been one of the best passers in the country to this point. If he can't go, the Buffs will turn to Steven Montez, a redshirt freshman who has yet to make a start. Montez has a lot of talent, but to needs to prove himself in games.
2. Will the Colorado defense rise to the challenge?
Especially after a good performance against Michigan last week, the Buffaloes have proven they can slow down talented, top-notch teams. Oregon has a better offense than Michigan, though. The Buffs have to find a way to neutralize Oregon's speed and avoid getting burned by big plays.
3. Can the Buffs avoid another special teams disaster?
The Michigan game could not have been much worse for CU's special teams. They had a punt blocked for touchdown, another punt returned for a touchdown, another punt that hit a CU lineman in the back and two delay of game penalties. On top of that, the Buffs missed their only field goal attempt, gave up a 55-yard return and lost their kicker for the season with a torn Achilles' tendon. All of that played a significant role in Michigan winning the game. The Buffs need to be clean on special teams against the Ducks.
Bottom line: CU players have not been shy in expressing their desire to win the Pac-12 conference this season. With this being the Pac-12 opener, it's time for them to step up and prove they are worthy of title contention. No better way to do that than by beating the Ducks in their house.
Ducks at a glance
Passing - Dakota Prukop, Sr.: 56-for-84, 748 yards, 6 TD, 0 INT
Rushing - Royce Freeman, Jr.: 37 carries, 325 yards, 4 TD
Receiving - Darren Carrington, Jr.: 14 catches, 212 yards, 1 TD
Tackles - Tyree Robinson, Jr.: 18 tackles (17 solo)
3 questions facing Oregon
1. How will the Ducks bounce back from a loss?
Last week, Oregon coughed up a lead and lost at Nebraska, 35-32. History suggests the Ducks should be in good shape this week. They haven't lost two in a row since a three-game skid in 2007. Since then, they are 15-0 in the game following a loss.
2. Can Oregon stop the CU run game?
The Ducks rank 90th nationally in run defense, allowing 170.0 yards per game on the ground. CU was unable to find running room against Michigan, but the Buffs are better when they can get the run game going. Oregon needs to step up defensively and not let the Buffs' ground game going.
3. Will freshman Brady Aiello fill Tyrell Crosby's shoes at left tackle?
Against Nebraska last week, Crosby suffered a season-ending foot injury. A potential first-round NFL draft pick next spring, Crosby's departure leaves a big hole in the Oregon offensive line. Aiello, a redshirt freshman, is slated to start. He made his first career start against UC Davis two weeks ago.
Bottom line: Like Colorado, the Ducks have the goal of winning the Pac-12. Because of that, the Ducks need to get off to a good start, especially after being dealt a loss last week. Mentally, the Ducks need a good performance and a win to get back on track.