Let me preface this article by stating how I feel about statistics. I feel that statistics give us an indication into every result we see in sports today. I believe that if you pay attention to the statistics while gathering data you will have a good idea as to the result of games that take place across the sports world. I understand that sometimes statistics do not tell us the story we need to know prior to the game being played on the field. But in this case I believe a look into the statistics tells us exactly what to expect from Fresno State-Colorado on Saturday.
It's not hard to remember what the Colorado Buffaloes experienced during the 2012 season, especially if you are a Fresno State Bulldog fan. The Buffaloes may have reached the low point of their season when they left Bulldog stadium following a 69-14 blowout loss. In that game the Bulldogs exploited the Buffaloes woes as the Bulldogs raced out to a 35-0 lead less than twenty minutes into the game. While the 2012 Colorado team was deficient in many areas, the 2013 team looks to have taken great strides to become a far more competitive team on the field of play. With that we take a look at the Buffaloes offense, defense, and a bit of their special teams to better understand where the Bulldogs stand when they step on the field in Boulder this weekend. Let's begin by taking a look at the two team's leading skilled position stats before we get into a breakdown of Colorado.
Quarterback – 370 yards passing per game, 6 td, 2 int, qb rating of 163.5
Running Back – 25 carries for 85 yards, no touchdowns
Wide Receiver – 21 receptions for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns
Quarterback – 330 yards passing per game, 8 td, 1 int, qb rating of 148
Running Back – 25 carries for 94 yards, 1 td
Wide Receiver – 19 receptions for 179 yards and 3 touchdowns
If we take a look at the two team's statistics you begin to wonder who is actually having a more successful season. At this point both teams are 2-0, with both playing a smaller school (Fresno beating Cal Poly and Colorado beating Central Arkansas), but Fresno has the edge since they defeated Rutgers who for all intensive purposes is a much better team than Colorado State. Getting back to the statistics Colorado is team A. While those statistics do not tell us a great deal about Colorado as a team they do allow us to understand what kind of team they are. Colorado is a team that aims for the big play. The live and die by the passing game and will continue to do so when they play Fresno State. Colorado's leading receiver Paul Richardson is a force on the field as he has great hands, is quick, and will make corners and safeties pay if they give him one step. What Colorado's stats also tell us is they do not use the run often. The Bulldogs will be facing a team who so far this season has been one dimensional with their offensive attack.
Colorado this season has shown the ability to throw the deep ball successfully. The Buffaloes have also been explosive in the sense that the offense has been able to move up and down the field often during the course of the game. Colorado's QB Connor Wood is quick while possessing an arm that can make a great deal of throws required to win at the college football level. Wood seems to favor the fade routes to players such as Richardson which have worked wonders for the Buffaloes this season. Colorado tends to shy away from its run game which you would expect from a team who is always playing from behind. However, the Buffaloes have been victorious in their first two games so that tells the average football fan that Colorado's run game is not its strength.
On defense Colorado's corners play aggressive football which is something the 2012 team did not do. While this often leads to turnovers the Buffaloes have also given up the big play more often than they would like to admit. Colorado has done a good job forcing turnovers and will have to do so in order to walk away with a victory over Fresno State.
Colorado to this point has been a one dimensional offense. Since Fresno State has been much of the same the Bulldogs and Buffaloes should know exactly what they have in store during their game Saturday. Colorado also relies on one player far more than anyone else. While Richardson has been one of the best receivers in the country up to this point, Fresno State will know to focus on Richardson and force the Buffaloes to revert to other receivers or the running game to walk away with a victory. The offensive line of Colorado has struggled to protect Wood as well as he has been sacked five times up to this point and been hit often as well. Defensively the Buffaloes have struggled to put pressure on the opposing team's QB. At the same time the Buffaloes struggle on outside passing routes as well as slant routes. Colorado's corners have forced opposing offenses into turnovers, but they have not faced a QB with the talent of Derek Carr. Colorado has not been challenged by a receiving group like the Bulldogs bring to the field either. Colorado will have to find a way to force Carr into errant throws. Because Colorado has not been able to apply pressure to the opposing team's QB often look for Carr to have a strong throwing day against the Buffaloes defense.
What this all means
Colorado has done a great job of improving their team across the board. Replacing their head coach with SJSU's old coach was a step in the right direction. The Buffaloes are playing with a purpose that that has been void over the past few seasons in Colorado. At this point in the season Fresno State is still a more complete team than Colorado. The Bulldogs first team defense shut down Cal Poly last week to the tune of less than 200 yards of total offense and three points. While Fresno State will not be as successful with Colorado look for the Bulldogs to walk away from this game with a victory as well. Opening lines have Fresno State at a ten point favorite in this game. The Bulldogs have the ability to win this game by more than ten if they apply pressure to Wood and find a way to keep Richardson to respectable numbers. However, Fresno State is on the road for the first time this season playing a team that has revenge on its mind. While it may not be enough to walk away with a win look for Colorado to keep this game close until Carr has the opportunity to put this game away late in the fourth quarter.
As I said earlier I believe statistics tell us what to expect when relating to sports. From looking at the statistics of these two teams we should expect a shootout with a large amount of points being put on the board. Time of possession is not a stat either team does well with because of the fact that they pass so often. The team that can force more mistakes in the passing game will walk away victorious and we are betting that team will be Fresno State come Saturday.