CU Buffs vs. Oregon football: How to watch, storylines, predictions

No. 19 Colorado (3-0) at No. 10 Oregon (3-0)

When/where: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MT/Autzen Stadium

TV/Radio: KMGH-7 (ABC)/850 AM

BetMGM Line: Oregon -21, 71.5 over/under

Weather: Partly sunny with chance of rain; high near 70.

Five storylines

Buffs, Sans Hunter: CU will be without star wideout/cornerback Travis Hunter for multiple weeks after he was injured in the first half of the Rocky Mountain Showdown. CSU safety Henry Blackburn leveled Hunter on a hit that drew an unsportsmanlike conduct call and later landed Hunter in the hospital with a lacerated liver. While the CU offense has enough skill talent to make up for his absence, the Buffs’ defense loses a lockdown defender on the outside and coach Deion Sanders said it will be “corner by committee” in Hunter’s place. But five-star freshman Cormani McClain will not be on that committee, Sanders said.

Double-Digit ‘Dogs: The Buffs already pulled one mega-upset this year, upending the Vegas sportsbooks with their 45-42 win over TCU in the season opener in which CU entered Fort Worth as 20.5-point underdogs. That win was the fourth-biggest upset against the spread in CU history. Should the Buffs shock the world again in Eugene, it would go down as tied for the second-biggest, behind only CU’s 27-24 victory over Oklahoma in Boulder in 2007 when the Buffs were 22-point underdogs.

In the trenches: CU was lucky to escape with a comeback double-OT win over CSU, especially considering that the Rams owned the trenches all night. The Buffs only had 70 total net yards rushing, and Sanders acknowledged after the win that the run game isn’t part of CU’s identity yet. In their other two wins, CU only had 58 yards on the ground against Nebraska, and 55 against TCU. It’s made the Buffs’ offense largely one-dimensional, and despite Shedeur Sanders’ scrambling ability, he’s been sacked 16 times so far.

Shedeuer, Chapter 4: Speaking of Shedeur: It would’ve been a long week in Boulder without No. 2, who single-handedly put the Buffs on his shoulders to carry them to the comeback over CSU in the fourth quarter and two overtimes. Shedeur’s performance against the Rams had blemishes for the first time in his three starts this year, including his first interception. But the bottom line is, the QB’s first three games in black-and-gold have been exceptional. If he reels off a handful of Heisman Trophy-type plays Saturday, the Buffs have a shot.

Recent History: The Buffs are 9-15 against the Ducks all-time but just 1-9 over the last 10 matchups, which includes three straight blowout wins by Oregon. The last time CU won in the series and in Eugene was 2016, a 41-38 triumph in Steven Montez’s starting debut. Ahkello Witherspoon’s interception in the end zone clinched the win for CU, while Montez spun the first-ever 300-yard passing/100-yard rushing game in school history. It’s CU’s lone win in Pac-12 play in the series.


Kyle Newman, sportswriter: CU 35, Oregon 31

The Buffs pull off their second massive upset in four weeks, using a few key defensive stops plus Shedeur Sanders’ late touchdown pass to Xavier Weaver to rally and stun the Ducks.

Sean Keeler, sports columnist: Oregon 49, CU 32

The good news: An opportunistic Buffs defense will force the first Bo Nix pick of the season. The bad: That might be the only way CU stops a Ducks drive in Autzen. Shedeur Sanders has more toys than Travis Hunter to play with, but this o-line ain’t ready for Prime Time (yet).  And the words “cornerback by committee,” even coming from Deion Sanders’ mouth, sound slightly ominous going to Eugene. Oregon 49, CU 32.

Matt Schubert, sports editor: Oregon 38, CU 28

Bo Nix is a problem. The Buffs’ struggles in the trenches is an even bigger one. The Ducks offensive and defensive lines will be the biggest and best CU has faced up so far this season — and will be the primary reason the Buffs go home 3-1.

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