Colorado vs. Stanford preview

With 20 straight losses outside of the state, Colorado travels to take on the seventh-ranked Stanford Cardinal.

It hasn't been forever since Colorado's last road win. It just seems that way.

Coming into today's trip to Stanford (4-0), the Buffs (1-4) have lost 20 straight games outside of the state of Colorado.

Chances are, that will reach 21 today against the heavily favored Cardinal, but ...

"Stuff happens all the time, and we can do it," quarterback Tyler Hansen said.

It's been a while since Colorado has made stuff happen, though.

Recently, head coach Jon Embree said his team is different on the road. This week, he expanded on that by saying the Buffs play "tentative" away from home.

A simple lack of confidence has played a major role, too.

Hansen said the last time CU brought a load of confidence into a game against a good team was last season against Georgia.

"That was a true game where we were like, 'Hey we're going to win this game; we're going to beat these guys."

Of course, that game was played in Boulder. And, Georgia was a struggling unit.

Today's game is against the 7th-ranked team in the country, which features the best quarterback in college football, Andrew Luck.

During Hansen's time at CU, the Buffs have played seven road games against ranked teams. They are 0-7 in those games and only one of those was close - a 31-28 loss at No. 13 Oklahoma State in 2009. CU lost by at least 16 points in the other six games.

CU hasn't defeated a ranked team on the road since 2002.

While Embree said his team is tentative on the road, Hansen said he's not sure the Buffs have ever gone into a road game like this with confidence.

"We need to have that feeling," Hansen said. "We need to make it our house. That's the mentality we need to go into it with. Since I've been here, I don't think that's been around for road games."

How to get that feeling? The Buffs can't be in awe of the opponent, for one. Second, they need to realize it's simply a football game.

"It's the same field," Hansen said. "It's like the Hoosiers.

"At home, obviously you have energy from the fans. They create energy for you. On the road you need to create your energy and guys need to get excited if they make a play. We haven't done that. We need that to create our own energy."

To knock off the Cardinal, the Buffs are going to have the generate the kind of energy they haven't had in a while. Hansen said he'll know before kickoff if the Buffs are juiced and ready to go.

"I think you've got a good feel for the way guys are acting," he said. "Pre-game is a really good basis on how you're going to do."

CU beating Stanford is not an impossible thought. After all, as Hansen said, stuff happens.

A look at today's game ...

COLORADO (1-4, 0-1) AT NO. 7 STANFORD (4-0, 1-0)

When/Where: Today, 5:30 p.m. MDT, at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.

The series: The Buffs are 3-3 all-time against Stanford, including 0-2 in Palo Alto. CU's last win against Stanford came on Sept. 6, 19990, in Boulder.

Last week: Colorado lost at home to Washington State, 31-27. Stanford beat UCLA 45-19.

Last year: CU was 5-7. Stanford was 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl.

Streaking: Stanford owns the nation's longest winning streak, at 12 games.

Stability: For the past two games, CU has had the same starting five on the offensive line -- David Bakhtiari (left tackle), Ethan Adkins (left guard), Gus Handler (center), Ryan Miller (right guard) and Ryan Dannewitz (right tackle). It's the first time CU has had the same five in back-to-back games this year. "Every week they play together, they get more cohesive and play as one unit," CU quarterback Tyler Hansen said. "They've been playing better and better every week. We're hoping they keep that up."

Stanford on the run: Because Stanford has the nation's top quarterback in Andrew Luck, it's easy to believe their passing game drives the offense. CU coach Jon Embree said, however, that's not the case. The Cardinal are averaging 197.5 rushing yards per game, led by Stepfan Taylor (100.2). "You have to stop the run first," Embree said. "I think that's the misnomer with having Andrew Luck. You think you have to go in there stopping the pass. If you don't stop their run, look out. They're a power running team and they're a very physical team. They want it to be a street fight and I don't think that people don't go against them or don't watch them don't realize that."

Cardinal to keep an eye on: QB Andrew Luck. If nothing else, watch him to enjoy him. CU coach Jon Embree called Luck "the Peyton Manning of college football." The expected No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Luck has lived up to his hype this year. He has completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 1,013 yards, 11 touchdowns and just one interception.

Buff to keep an eye on: RB Rodney Stewart. The senior is being leaned on heavily of late. In addition to leading the team with 410 rushing yards, he's second in receiving (24 catches for 338 yards) and is the Buffs' top threat in the return game.

Did you know?: Stanford is the only team in the country that has yet to allow a first-quarter point this season.

This and that: Stanford has turned the ball over just once this season. ... Stanford ranks seventh nationally in scoring (45.8 points per game), while CU is 89th (24.4). ... Both defenses have been fairly good this season. Stanford ranks 26th (312.0 yards per game allowed) and CU ranks 43rd (349.4). There's a big difference in scoring defense, though, as Stanford is sixth nationally (11.5) and CU is 89th (30.4). ... CU is last in the country in kickoff returns (15.8 yards per return) and has been last for most of the season. ... Stanford is No. 1 in the country in red-zone scoring percentage, at 100 percent. CU is 50th, at 85.7 percent. ... CU ran for a season-high 161 yards last week against Washington State.

How the Cardinal can win: Stanford simply has to show up and do what it has done all year -- pound the ball on the ground, let Luck carve up the defense and then watch the defense shut down the opposition. Stanford has dominated every opponent this year with that formula.

How the Buffs can win: Somehow, the Buffs have got to generate big plays and force Stanford into huge mistakes. Nobody has been able to do that yet, as Stanford has just one turnover all year, but CU needs those big, game-changing plays to keep it close and have a chance late in the game.


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