Buffaloes scouting report
Head coach: Karl Dorrell, 2nd season (6-8; 41-35 career)
2021 Record: 2-6, 1-4 Pac-12
Last week: Lost at Oregon, 52-29
5 Players to Watch
- DL Mustafa Johnson: The Buffs need to stop the talented OSU run game and Johnson will play a big role in that. In four games, he’s recorded 14 tackles and three tackles for loss.
- S Isaiah Lewis: He’s another key to stopping the run game, but is also important against the pass. He’s second on the team with 54 tackles and has five third-down stops.
- LB Quinn Perry: With Nate Landman out, there’s more pressure on other linebackers, including Perry. He recorded seven tackles last week and has 46 tackles on the season.
- TE Brady Russell: In addition to filling an important role as a blocker, he’s caught 14 passes for 184 yards.
- WR La’Vontae Shenault: After a seven-game suspension, he’s expected to return to the lineup against the Beavers. In five career games, he’s caught 19 passes for 216 yards.
CU offense: Was last week’s performance in Oregon a boost for the offense or an outlier? Although the Buffs still rank last in the country in yards (251.0 per game) and near the bottom in points (16.9), they were sharp last week. Brendon Lewis threw the ball well and he found a season-high 11 different receivers. The offensive line played its best game of the season, too. “Building off of this performance that they had this last week (is the goal),” Dorrell said. “Oregon’s one of the top teams in our conference right now. It’s not an easy place to play and we didn’t play well early, but we battled and tried to impose our will, so to speak in certain situations and getting some points on the board and I think we were able to succeed with those moments.”
CU defense: Was last week’s performance in Oregon the start of a downward spiral for the defense or an outlier? CU has had a good – but not great – defense most of the season, but got bulldozed by Oregon, giving up 52 points and 568 yards. The Buffs clearly missed injured linebacker Nate Landman, who isn’t likely to play this week either. The Buffs were especially porous against the run, which is OSU’s strength. “We’ve got to stop the run, dominate the run,” linebacker Marvin Ham II said. “Hands down, you’ve got to dominate the run. If we can do that, we can make them one-dimensional and make them throw the ball.”
CU special teams: While the Buffs have had up and down performances on offense and defense, they can usually count on special teams. “Our special teams have been … they’ve really played well consistently through the season,” Dorrell said. Punter Josh Watts ranks sixth in the country in average (48.26 yards per punt), while Cole Becker has made five straight field goals and is 16-for-16 on extra points. Brenden Rice continues to make plays as a kick returner, as well, and the Buffs have been solid in kick/punt coverage.
CU keys to victory
Slow down the run: That’s not easy against Oregon State, which has the best rushing attack in the Pac-12. The Beavers are going to get yards on the ground, but the Buffs need to slow them down a bit and try to keep them under 200 yards, if not 150.
Build on momentum: Brendon Lewis looked good in leading the offense last week. If he can play like that again, the Buffs will be able to put some points on the board.
Win the turnover battle: One area in which the Buffs have excelled this year is in holding onto the ball. They have a Pac-12-low six turnovers. OSU, meanwhile, has 13.
- This is homecoming weekend and it’s the 75th anniversary of a special homecoming. On Oct. 26, 1946, the Buffs defeated New Mexico 14-13 on homecoming. During halftime, CU officially announced its stadium would be named in honor of the late Fred Folsom, the program’s winningest coach at the time.
- CU has typically thrown the ball well against Oregon State. In the last four meetings, from 2015-18, the Buffs threw for 971 yards (242.8 per game), nine touchdowns and no interceptions. Steven Montez was the quarterback for three of those games.
- This season, the Buffs are tied for the most sacks allowed in the Pac-12 (23). On defense, the Buffs have produced the fewest amount of sacks (eight).
- The Buffs have been one of the best teams in the Pac-12 in the return game. They rank second in punt return average (15.23) and third in kickoff return average (26.93).
- Running backs Jarek Broussard and Alex Fontenot are both close to breaking into the top 40 on CU’s career rushing list. Broussard current has 1,172 yards, while Fontenot has 1,145. Michael Adkins II (2013-17) is 40th, with 1,200 yards.
Beavers scouting report
Head coach: Jonathan Smith, 4th season (14-25)
2021 Record: 5-3, 3-2 Pac-12
Last week: Lost at California, 39-25
5 Players to Watch
- RB B.J. Baylor: Leads the Pac-12 and ranks 12th nationally with 109 rushing yards per game (872 yards). He’s also scored 10 touchdowns, posting 6.7 yards per carry.
- WR Trevon Bradford: The Beavers’ leading receiver has caught 27 passes for 402 yards and three touchdowns. He is also the punt returner, averaging 9.2 yards on returns.
- QB Chance Nolan: Leads the Pac-12 in passing efficiency (156.1). He’s completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 1,504 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s also rushed for 206 yards.
- LB Avery Roberts: Among the top defenders in the conference this year. He’s racked up 90 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He also has an interception and two pass breakups.
- CB Rejzohn Wright: He has recorded 33 tackles and seven pass breakups. He also has a sack and an interception.
Oregon State offense: It all starts with the run game, which is led by junior B.J. Baylor. He’s topped the 100-yard mark four times this season and he has three runs of 50 yards or more. Deshaun Fenwick and Trey Lowe have also played well when they got opportunities to run. To complement the run game, Chance Nolan leads the Pac-12 in pass efficiency rating. “They have some imposing challenges because they can run the ball in every personnel group pretty effectively,” Dorrell said. “I would say their best attribute is that they have that balance. They can run the football and they have certain countermeasures off of those run actions to make a defense try to defend both the play-action game and the run game.”
Oregon State defense: The Beavers have struggled at times on defense, as they rank last in the Pac-12 in yards allowed (407.0) and eights in points allowed (26.5). They’ve allowed at least 30 points in the last three games. They have been good against the run, however, and feature some good individual players, including linebacker Avery Roberts. “They do a good job, play really hard,” CU interim offensive line coach William Vlachos said. “It’s an attacking defense. You don’t exactly know what they’re going to be, so you’ve got to have sound rules that everybody can execute to be able to play fast. It’ll be a challenge.”
Oregon State special teams: Kicker Everett Hayes is having another good season, going 6-for-7 on field goals and 35-for-35 on extra points. He’s also got a Pac-12-high 41 touchbacks on kickoffs. In his career, Hayes is 13-for-17 on field goals and 79-for-79 on extra points. Punter Luke Loecher has a 47.0 average and the Beavers have allowed just one return (for no gain) on 20 punts. The Beavers haven’t made big plays on returns, but Trevon Bradford averages 9.2 yards on punt returns.
Oregon State keys to victory
Run, run, run: The Beavers have the best running game in the Pac-12 and the Buffs have struggled to stop the run – especially with Nate Landman out. The Beavers are 5-1 when rushing for at least 200 yards, and 0-2 when held below that mark.
Limit the passing game: CU hasn’t done much through the air this season, but Brendon Lewis has thrown the ball well in two of the last three games. The Beavers have been vulnerable against the pass, especially in the last three weeks.
Eyes on the prize: OSU needs one more win to reach bowl eligibility and this is, on paper, the easiest game on the remaining schedule. Stay focused and play sound football, as they’ve done most of the year, and the Beavers can walk out of Folsom with win No. 6.
- Linebacker Jack Colletto was the starting quarterback during the Beavers’ 41-34 win against CU in 2018. He was benched but had two rushing touchdowns – including the game-winner – that day. He now plays on both sides of the ball. He’s played linebacker (five tackles, one interception) and is used in short-yardage situations on offense (5 rushing TDs, one receiving TD).
- The Beavers are seeking bowl eligibility for the first time since 2013 when they went 7-6. They have the longest bowl drought in the Pac-12, as every other team has been to at least one bowl since 2017.
- Running back B.J. Baylor needs 128 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the season. He’s trying to become just the second Beaver to reach the 1,000-yard mark since the conference expanded to 12 teams in 2011. Jermar Jefferson (1,380 yards in 2018) is the only OSU player to hit that mark since 2011.
- The Beavers have 10 interceptions this season, the most by an OSU defense 11 in 2014. Nine different players have intercepted at least one pass. Linebacker Omar Speights leads the way with two. OSU also leads the Pac-12 with 48 passes defended.
- On third downs, the Beavers have been the Pac-12’s best on offense (53.19%) and the worst on defense (51.64%).