The Colorado Buffaloes are coming off a disappointing 2015 season. There was hope that with 15 starters back they could get to their first bowl game since 2007.
Things didn’t go as planned, as they finished up just 4-9. They went just 1-8 in Pac-12 play and are now 2-25 in the conference under head coach Mike MacIntyre.
On the bright side, Colorado was competitive against several of the top programs. They were tied 17-17 at the half against Oregon, but ended up losing 24-41. They had a 7-point lead in the 4th quarter in a 31-38 loss at Arizona. They dominated the box score in 4-point defeat to UCLA. Lost by just 3 to USC and 6 at Utah.
They have 8 losses inside the conference by 7-points or less the last two years. Could this be the season that Colorado finally puts it together. They should have their most talented team under MacIntyre with 18 returning starters.
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|9/3||Colorado State (Denver)|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
*We take the win chance by using the college football win percentage chart for each point spread.
One of the factors that really hurt Colorado last year, was they played 13 straight games without a bye. This year they at least get one open week, but on the downside it doesn’t come until late October.
The Buffaloes will open up on a neutral site against in-state rival Colorado State. That’s a critical game if they are going to surprise and make a bowl. They haven’t won back-to-back games in the series since 2010-11.
After what should be a cupcake game at home against Idaho State, they go on the road to face Michigan. It’s the start of a brutal stretch, where they play 4 of 6 on the road. The other 3 road games are against Oregon, USC and Stanford.
They do get favorable matchups at home against Oregon State and Arizona State during this run. However, best case scenario going into their bye is likely 4-4.
They will get to play 3 of their final 4 at home, but those won’t be easy. They have to host UCLA, Washington State and Utah. The lone road contest being at Arizona, which is winnable.
Last year the offense didn’t produce at the level expected. They had 7 starters back, including their quarterback, yet failed to exceed 2014’s numbers. Colorado went from scoring 28.5 ppg and putting up 439 ypg to just 24.6 ppg and 397 ypg.
This year they have 9 starters back and should be poised to put up their best numbers in quite some time. They added in Darrin Chiaverini to serve as the co-offensive coordinator. That likely means a faster paced attack and similar passing schemes to the Red Raiders.
All of the pressure is on senior quarterback Sefo Liufau to deliver. He wasn’t nearly as effective last year as he was as a sophomore. He had 3,200 yards and 25 touchdowns in 11 starts in 2014. Compared to 2,418 yards and 9 touchdowns in 11 starts last year.
It won’t exactly be easy making a big jump with the loss of star wide out Nelson Spruce. He was Liufau’s top target last year with 89 catches for 1,053 yards and 4 scores. On the bright side, they do get back everyone else. They also signed 5 wide outs in the offseason. The most noteworthy being juco transfer Juwann Winfree.
Improving the ground game is something I’m sure was a focus in the spring. While last year’s leading rusher, Phillip Lindsay had just 653 yards, there’s reason to be optimistic.
That’s because Colorado should have its best offensive line of the MacIntyre era. The Buffaloes have 4 starters coming back, but it’s more like all 5. Senior left tackle Jeromy Irwin takes over the only open spot. He’s got 13 career starts. He had 2 starts last year before suffering a season-ending injury.
Defensively the Buffaloes made big time strides in 2015. After giving up 35+ ppg in each of the previous 4 seasons, they allowed just 27.5 ppg. More improvements could be on the way with 9 starters back in 2016.
Up front on the defensive line, they only starter lost is tackle Justin Solis. However, they will replace him with senior Josh Tupou. He was considered the best d-linemen they had going into last season, but was out for the year in June. Like the offensive line, this is the best unit Colorado will field in the MacIntrye era.
Another key player returns after missing last year at linebacker. That being junior middle linebacker Addison Gillman. He’ll be the leader of a very experienced unit that has 5 players who have been a full-time starter at some point.
Things are also looking really good in the secondary. Last year’s leading tackler, Chidobe Awuzie will be one of the best the Pac-12 has to offer at corner. They also have a big time talent at safety in senior Tedric Thompson. Two more capable players round out the unit in corner Isaiah Oliver and safety Ryan Moeller.
Regular Season Win Total
Pac-12 South Odds
Pac-12 Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
*Odds updated live on our college football odds page
I really wanted to pick Colorado to make it to a bowl game this year, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I do have the Buffaloes posting one of their better seasons at 5-7 and 3-6 in the Pac-12. That would match their combined conference wins over the previous 3 seasons.
With that said, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if this team got to 6-6 or even 7-5. My big concern is the schedule and having to play 5 of their first 8 away from home without a bye. Four of those against some of the best teams in the country in Michigan, Oregon, USC and Stanford.
I also am worried about the offense being good enough to compete in the Pac-12. You have to be able to score and score often to win in this league. The defense will be good, but it’s not an elite unit by any means. They only held one Pac-12 foe under 20 points last year and that was Oregon State, who averaged 19.0 ppg.
Win Total Prediction