The lone cross-divisional game until the Pac-12's seeded Championship Week is on tap this weekend for the Colorado Buffaloes and Stanford Cardinal. The Buffs visit The Farm after an impressive start to the Karl Dorrell era, while the host Cardinal aim to regroup from a tough loss.
Though the results differed, both teams delivered on some of the more surprising performances from ball carriers in the opening week. Jarek Broussard and Austin Jones will both factor prominently into Saturday's affair.
Stanford will need a better overall offensive performance than it had in the opener — a 35-14 loss to Oregon — and an improvement from its three-point loss to Colorado a season ago. The stakes are particularly high for the Cardinal in this one, as an 0-2 hole in this truncated schedule is disastrous.
Colorado at Stanford
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 14 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Stanford -6.5
When Colorado Has the Ball
Jarek Broussard's breakout performance headlined an all-around impressive showing for the Colorado offense against UCLA. The Buffs rolled up 525 yards of offense en route to 48 points — and could have put up a basketball score if not for some special teams misfires.
Quarterback Sam Noyer was dynamic as a dual-threat option, scoring three total touchdowns and adding 64 rushing yards to his 257 through the air. Seeing another two-way quarterback one week after it struggled with Oregon's Tyler Shough will test the Stanford defense. Colorado may not match Oregon's run-game depth, but the Buffs go deep enough to similarly attack the Cardinal front seven.
When Stanford Has the Ball
Davis Mills was a late scratch last week due to COVID protocols; his status for Colorado has not been publicized as of this writing. If Jack West is again at quarterback, his duty this week will be to finish drives.
Stanford did an effective enough job getting itself into position for points at Oregon, but possessions that stalled out short of the end zone resulted in three missed field goals. The production Jones and Nathaniel Peat delivered in the run game marked a significantly positive development after two seasons in which the Cardinal ranked near the bottom of the Pac-12 in rushing yards. But now the challenge is establishing a consistent passing threat.
Simi Fehoko continued on his strong finish to 2019 with three catches for 88 yards, further demonstrating his big-play ability. A possession-receiver complement to Fehoko's deep-pass threat will be something to watch against Colorado.
Extrapolating from a single game is an easy trap to fall into. To wit, Stanford's three-possession loss at Oregon could be a cause for concern, but there are positive takeaways in the Cardinal's performance — most notably, the resurgence of a once-struggling rushing attack.
The Cardinal have apparent deficiencies, most notably its struggles defending the run. But the opponent plays a role in that. The same is true for Colorado, which looked strong against UCLA — but the Bruins may end up finishing at the bottom of the South. This Saturday's game is going to make a significant statement about both these teams.
Prediction: Stanford 28, Colorado 24
Podcast: Week 11 Preview and Predictions
— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.