Buffaloes at a glance
Record: 3-1, 1-0 Pac-12
Passing — Sefo Liufau, Sr.: 54-for-76, 768 yards, 6 TD, 0 INT
Rushing — Phillip Lindsay, Jr.: 54 carries, 248 yards, 5 TD
Receiving — Devin Ross, Jr.: 25 catches, 355 yards, 5 TD
Tackles — Kenneth Olugbode, Sr.: 37 tackles (27 solo)
3 questions facing CU
1. How will the Buffs handle being the favorite?
For just the third time in 47 Pac-12 games since joining the conference, the Buffs enter as the favorite. The first two times, they were favored by a field goal or less. Now, the Buffs are an 18.5-point favorite and expected to roll to a victory. CU has done a great job being prepared each week, and will need to bring that same focus and preparation to the field against Oregon State.
2. Will Steven Montez get a chance for an encore performance?
Filling in for injured senior Sefo Liufau, quarterback Steven Montez was brilliant against Oregon last week. Throughout the week, Liufau continued to rehab his injured ankle and coach Mike MacIntyre wasn’t ready to declare a starter. If it’s Montez, can he show the same poise and exceptional execution he had against Oregon? If it’s Liufau, can he pick up where he left off when he was injured?
3. Can the defense come through?
Coming into this game, CU has the best defense in the Pac-12 and Oregon State has the worst offense. After getting hit with some big plays the past two weeks, the Buffs have a chance to prove their strength on defense. If CU is on its game defensively, Oregon State will struggle to move the ball and put points on the board.
Bottom line: CU has a great opportunity to start 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2007 — and for the first time since joining the Pac-12. If CU plays its game, executes the plan and avoids costly mistakes, it’ll get win No. 4 and stay atop the Pac-12 South division.
Beavers at a glance
Record: 1-2, 0-0 Pac-12
Passing — Darell Garretson, Jr.: 51-for-86, 453 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing — Ryan Nall, So.: 40 carries, 176 yards, 3 TD
Receiving — Seth Collins, So.: 16 catches, 185 yards, 0 TD
Tackles — Devin Chappell, Sr.: 23 tackles (13 solo)
3 questions facing Oregon State
1. Can the secondary slow down Colorado’s passing game?
Oregon State leads the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense, allowing completions just 54.5 percent of the time and yielding only one touchdown pass. The Beavers have also allowed just one pass of 30-plus yards (a 31-yarder). The Beavers haven’t seen anything like Colorado, though. The Buffs are explosive in the passing game and average nearly three touchdowns per game through the air. This is the toughest test of the year so far for the OSU secondary.
2. How long can the Beavers keep the game close?
Colorado has outscored opponents 72-14 in the first quarter, and the Buffs have built two-touchdown leads early in every game. So far this season, the Beavers have not shown they have the ability to hang in during a shootout. If CU starts pulling away early, it could be a long day for OSU. If OSU can get some early stops, though, confidence can build and the Beavers could make a game of it.
3. Will Victor Bolden be a major factor?
The senior receiver is Oregon State’s biggest play maker and he has the ability to burn the Buffs in a variety of ways. He’s the only player in the country with two plays of 90-plus yards (a 99-yard kickoff return and a 92-yard run). He’s also got big-play potential in the passing game.
Bottom line: As a heavy underdog, the Beavers really have nothing to lose. They have good talent on this team and if they can build some momentum, they can steal a win that can turn their season around.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.