Heading into Week 4, the season had been magical for the Colorado Buffaloes. Wins against TCU, Nebraska, and Colorado State put the program in the unexpected position of being 3-0 heading into a huge showdown with Oregon.
To say that things did not go as expected would be an understatement. Let’s get into the deep end and find out what happened leading into the game, how the game itself played out, and what we can expect going forward.
Part of the reason that Colorado has garnered so much attention is because they bring it on themselves. QB Shedeur Sanders started a trend of flashing his expensive watch after wins, something that has rubbed opponents the wrong way.
All of this led to comments from Oregon head coach Dan Lanning to his team right before taking the field. “They’re fighting for clicks, we’re fighting for wins. There’s a difference.” It isn’t the first time an opposing coach has taken umbrage with the approach of Colorado coach Deion Sanders. All of which led into the game itself.
Oregon head coach with some fighting words about Colorado pregame:
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) September 23, 2023
To say that this game got ugly in a hurry would probably be apt. It didn’t feel like much of a competition as the Ducks marched down the field on their first drive, a nearly five-minute drive that ended in a Noah Whittington touchdown run.
Colorado went 3-and-out and the push continued. It was 13-0 by the end of the first quarter. Sanders couldn’t find a rhythm on offense, spending a lot of his time facing unrelenting pressure from the Ducks. By halftime, the home team had a commanding 35-0 lead.
There was an interesting point in this game that the Buffs will remember. Just six minutes into the second half, the Ducks faced a 4th & goal situation. Up 35-0, they could have just kicked the field goal. Instead, they went for it, with Jordan James picking up a touchdown run (the third on the day for the Ducks).
That push to really bury the Buffs under a 42-point avalanche really felt like a point. It was an ugly game from start to finish for the Buffs, leaving a lot of questions about where they really stand after a Cinderella start to the season.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 23, 2023
What Does the USC Game Bring?
As bad as things were last week, they have the potential to get a whole lot worse this week. Sure, they are playing at home, but they have the distinction of hosting #8 USC (higher in some polls), who have been one of the best offenses in the country.
In four games this season, the 42 points they put up on Arizona State were their lowest output this year. They have reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams playing at an unparalleled level, looking to become the first-ever back-to-back winner of the award.
Heading into the game, the Buffs are 23-point underdogs. The ugly performance in Eugene certainly plays a part in that. The defense for the Buffs has been a question mark to date and now it is a full-blown issue. Against a team like USC, things could get out of hand quickly.
The defense was questionable coming into the season but the first game without Travis Hunter shows just how vulnerable they are in all facets. Against a player like Williams, a failure to get pressure will have disastrous results early and often. This will only lead to more questions about the Buffs and how realistic expectations are for this season.
The Season to Come
Speaking of expectations for the season, the whooping at the hands of the Ducks may have been a blessing in disguise. Expectations were becoming a bit unruly after three wins to start the season, something that defied early projections.
Even a tight loss against Oregon would have kept the hype train running at a dangerous speed. It’s hard enough to win as it is but when confidence is irrationally high – and it has been given some of the posturing the Buffs have done so far – it leads to mistakes that would not have been there if focus were better.
For now, the Buffs have been brought back to Earth and any peripheral talk of winning more than six games or making a run at any kind of conference accolade has gone out the window. The focus now is to prove that Colorado belongs on the same level as Oregon and USC, but they have nothing left to do but prove it.
This looks like a major loss before the schedule gets a little more manageable. Looking forward, six wins are not outlandish, but getting embarrassed in back-to-back games could lead to some major problems with UCLA, Oregon State, Washington State, and Utah all left on the docket.
— Colorado Buffaloes Football (@CUBuffsFootball) September 25, 2023