Buffs Prepare for no.1 Ranked Oklahoma

The University of Colorado Buffaloes will look to step into the role of spoiler, while at the same time playing to sure up a decent bowl bid for itself when they'll host No. 1 Oklahoma Saturday evening. The Buffs will be forced to contend with an OU offense whose centerpieces are a QB that's thrown 22 TDs in seven games, and a tailback that's averaged five yards a carry throughout the season.

The University of Colorado athletic department has had October 25 circled on its calendar since the 2003 football schedule came out early in the summer. Saturday evening's game against No. 1 Oklahoma may as well have been the team's conference title game, the single four-quarters that would make or break the Buffaloes' BCS chances.

And that's just the way head coach Gary Barnett and the CU Athletic Department wanted it.

That's what everyone expected, but Saturday evening's game (5:10 p.m.; TBS) will be anything but the showdown than fans across the region imagined.

The Buffaloes have incurred the expected casualties against Kansas State and Florida State to this point in their season, but CU has also suffered potentially bowl-chance ending losses to the likes of Washington State and, yes, even Baylor in what has proved to be the most unorthodox CU football season in years.

No, Colorado's season hasn't gone the way even its biggest pessimists could have hoped, but there are some around the CU team that say they wouldn't have it any other way. Barnett is one of them, especially going into Saturday evening's nationally televised matchup against the best team in the country.

"It's a great opportunity and I, for one, am looking forward to it," Barnett told the media earlier this week. "I know our coaches are (looking forward to it) that's why you come to Colorado, for the chance to play this game and these games. It's going to be right here on Folsom Field on national television, and it can't get any bigger or better than this."

"You only get 12 chances to play the No. 1 team over the season and we have to take this as a great opportunity," said defensive coordinator Vince Okruch. "Everybody has done some good things against them, but they have done some great things to beat those teams. In order to win we have to do the great things in this game."

It's true that, win or lose, Colorado's mere existence in the Big 12 conference brings excitement to each and every season of Buff football. The discrepancy this year that Colorado fans have had a difficult time adjusting to has been Colorado's downright miserable play in their Big 12 season to date; which has included losses to K-State, Baylor, and a three-point overtime shootout victory over lowly Kansas two weeks ago.

Some attribute the sluggish start to CU's ridiculous non-conference schedule, which was one of the most difficult in the country, and featured games against Colorado State, UCLA, Washington State, and once-ninth ranked Florida State. Perhaps predictably, CU split the less important part of their schedule, dropping the matchups to the Seminoles and Cougars, while defeating CSU and UCLA by a combined margin of nine points.

The Buffs face bigger problems than a couple losses in the first few weeks of the year. All week, Barnett and his assistants have been trying to convince the young Buffaloes they can win a game oddsmakers think they will lose by more than three touchdowns.

"We had the television on in the meeting room," he said. "There was ESPN talking about how good Oklahoma was. They were the best. They were this. They were that. It's on ‘SportsCenter.' That's what the kids spend 90 percent of their free time doing. That's got to seep in there somehow. So it depends on who they're listening to. What we've got to do is just convince them that they're every bit as worthy of being in this game and winning it."

There's no denying the raw talent of the Sooners, or even their rightful position as the best team in the country. The Sooners have scored less than 21 points just a single time this season and, even more impressively, they have averaged 52.6 points per game in their last five contests, dismantling the likes of then-No. 11 Texas, UCLA, and Missouri in the process.

Senior quarterback Jason White has already tossed for better than 2,000 yards on this season, along with an unbelievable 22 touchdowns, while lobbing just four picks. Meanwhile the OU line has allowed opponents to reach White just seven times this season.

Senior tailback Renaldo Works will be the next most apparent aspect of the Oklahoma attack Saturday. Works has more than lived up to his name seven games into OU's campaign for a National Title, averaging an even 5.0 yards per carry in the 93 times he toted the rock for the Sooners this season, while managing to find the endzone seven times. Still, despite his staggering average and his nose for the endzone, Works has yet to make an impact on any single game this season. Statistically, his best outing came two weeks ago in the Sooners 65-13 shock over Texas, during which Works gained 112 yards on 15 carried for a staggering 7.5 yards per carry average, while finding the endzone twice for the Sooners.


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