Fresno State (1-1) vs. Colorado (0-2)
Kickoff: Saturday, 5 p.m.
Television: CBS Sports
Radio: KMJ (AM 580), ESPN Deportes (1600 AM)
Keys to the Game
Third Down Conversions – Fresno State was atrocious last week in Eugene converting third downs. The Bulldogs were just 2-of-16 against Oregon and must improve that percentage this week against Colorado. FS can’t continue to be unsuccessful in those situations and expect to win football games regardless of the level of competition.
Pass, Pass, Pass – Whether it was quarterback Derek Carr being inaccurate, the lack of experience at wide receiver or the speed of the Oregon defense, Fresno State must improve the vertical game after last week’s output. The inconsistencies in the passing game have hindered the tempo of the offense. The Bulldogs need Carr to play better in the spread attack as well as the young receivers must run better routes and catch the ball. All the pieces are in place for the ‘Dogs to exploit a very average CU defense that could start as many as four true freshmen, including three in the secondary.
Break the Record – Robbie Rouse needs just 79 yards to break Ron Rivers’ career rushing mark. Rouse would be the first to say that beating Colorado is top priority and if the record happens as a result so be it. However, if Rouse doesn’t record 79 yards rushing on Saturday night, the Bulldogs could be in some trouble.
Stop the Run – CU may try to shorten the game with a ground attack led by bruising running back Christian Powell. The ‘Dogs best weapon against that scheme is big stops on first down. If the Buffs find success with the run, eating clock and moving the ball, the Bulldog defense will be on the field much longer than its two previous games.
Pressure the QB – The Buffalos have talent at quarterback with former four-star recruit and Texas signee Connor Wood backing up 2011 Kansas starter Jordan Webb. CU could employ a two-quarterback attack on Saturday. Fresno State sacked Oregon redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota twice and forced two fumbles. The Bulldogs need to take advantage of Colorado’s offensive woes and pressure Wood and Webb into mistakes.
Set the Tone – Senior linebacker Shawn Plummer noted that the Bulldog defense – and team for that matter – was a bit shell shocked at Autzen Stadium until his strip of Mariota in the third quarter. The team definitely played better after that turnover especially on defense. The Bulldog offense is still a work in progress, but the defense is capable of setting the tone and making Saturday’s game much easier for Carr and company to get into a rhythm.
Before the season began this looked like a toss up game with either squad able to come out on top but CU having the edge in talent and a coaching staff with a year under its belt. However, the Buffs have imploded just two games into the season, and Fresno State is a huge favorite.
The Bulldogs have not turned the ball over yet this season while forcing four turnovers on defense. The offense has been far from a well-oiled machine but the mistakes haven’t killed them in games thus far. The ‘Dogs cannot take a step backwards on offense versus CU and expect to win going away.
Colorado has one legitimate weapon that Fresno State has yet to face – a big, powerful back. The Buffalos best chance at an upset is to milk the clock, shorten the game, and wear down the Bulldog defense. Easier said then done as FS is the best team the Buffs have faced this season.
As long as the Bulldog offense limits its mistakes and protects the football, the defense will take care of the rest.
Fresno State 41, Colorado 10
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