2011 Colorado Buffaloes Football Predictions and BCS Futures Odds
by Darin Zank - 7/7/2011
The Colorado Buffaloes thought they had a chance last year to break out of their recent funk and maybe make a run at a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game, or at least make a bowl. Colorado had 17 starters back, including almost the entire offense, so improvement from going 3-9 the season previous was expected.
The Buffs then got off to a 3-1 start, which included an upset win over Georgia. But CU then lost five in a row, including a couple of close ones at home to Baylor and Texas Tech, and they blew a 45-17 fourth-quarter lead at lowly Kansas and lost, 52-45. This cost Coach Hawkins his job. Under an interim coach the Buffs won two in a row to get a sniff of a bowl berth, but then they got blown out at Nebraska to end the season at 5-7, and just 2-6 in conference play.
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Colorado went 5-6 ATS last year, and 0-4 ATS as underdogs of 10 points or more against Cal, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska. They also went 6-6 on the ‘over/unders,’ as Buffs games averaged 55 total points, with the Colorado defense giving up 31 PPG.
So Colorado is starting over with first-time Head Coach (and CU alum) Jon Embree. And on top of the new coaching regime this season begins the adventure of making new friends (and enemies) playing in a new conference, as the Buffs move, along with Utah, to what is now known as the Pac-12. Colorado gets 16 starters back this season, so the cupboard is not exactly bare. It's the talent level, though, that might make this year a struggle.
Embree played TE at Colorado in the 1980s and was an assistant at CU under coaches McCartney, Neuheisel and Barnett. He then spent four years as a TE coach in the NFL. Embree will install a West Coast-style attack on offense, and, fortunately, he might have a quarterback who can run it. But teams that adapt the West Coast often struggle early on.
The Buffs return nine starters on this side of the ball. Last year this unit averaged 24 PPG,, but it got held to seven points by Cal, got shut out by Mizzou and scored 10 points vs. Oklahoma. Colorado ranked 10th in Big 12 play last year in yardage, and last in rushing at just 121 YPG. Senior QB Tyler Hansen returns, after rupturing his spleen last year, and while he's got some experience, he's thrown more interceptions (17) than TDs (15) in his college career. The Buffs also get back 1,300-yard rusher Rodney Stewart and four along the offensive line. Much will depend, though, on how quickly this unit picks up the new system.
Seven starters are back on this unit, including five of the front seven. But this outfit gave up 52 points to Cal last year, 43 to Oklahoma, 52 to Kansas, 36 to K State and 45 to Nebraska. They ranked seventh in conference play both overall and vs. the run, second in sacks but dead last in pass efficiency defense. And while the collection of quarterbacks in the Pac-12 doesn't exactly match up with that in the Big 12, there is still cause for concern.
2011 Colorado Buffaloes Football Schedule
CU starts out at offensive-minded Hawaii, hosts Cal (in a nonconference game), plays in-state rival Colorado State in Denver, then visits Ohio State before jumping into its inaugural Pac-12 season. Colorado only gets four home conference games, and two of those are against pre-season North Division favorite Oregon and South Division favorite USC. And they play five conference road games, ending the season at UCLA and at Utah. All in all, no walk in the park.
2011 Colorado Buffaloes BCS Futures Odds
Colorado is among the teams included in “The Field” at Bodog to win the BCS championship at 20/1. And those odds come nowhere close to making the Buffs worth a wager.
2011 Colorado Buffaloes Football Predictions
Colorado hasn't had a winning season since 2005, and they won't have one this year, either. With the new coaching regime, new systems and questionable talent, we can only see about four winnable games on the schedule. So even though the Buffs are playing in the weaker of the two Pac-12 divisions, they'll struggle to stay out of last place.
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