Keys to the Win: Colorado

Before the season, did you look at the schedule and think that the Colorado game was one of Oregon State’s more favorable matchups? Can’t blame you, after all, the Buffaloes had been the doormat of the Pac-12 in recent years. Oh, how things change.

The program’s faith in Mike MacIntyre appears to have paid off, as Colorado is the surprise of the conference at 3-1 and is coming off an upset win over Oregon on the road. They are experienced, play fast, and are physical. And not surprisingly they are favored to win by more than two TDs.

So, things won’t get any easier for the Beavers this weekend. They will need to play that “complete” game that Coach Andersen wants to see out of his squad. If they can do that, it would be a huge stepping-stone for the season. Here’s what the Beavers need to do win on road against the upstart Buffaloes.

Stay Positive. It’s a new week and a new opponent. While Colorado is riding high, the Beavers can stage the upset if they play to their ability and show improvement. There’s a lot they could take away from the Boise State game, so hopefully they come out well prepared and energized. It will be important for them to try to dictate the pace of the game to slow down Colorado’s offense, and they can do that by being successful early on and building on that momentum.

Account for the QB. Regardless of who starts for Colorado, Sefo Liufau or Steven Montez, the Beavers need to be aware of him. Just look what happened to the Ducks. Both are threats to run, averaging 4.4 and 5.6 yards per carry respectively this season. If the Beavers can hit them hard early on and set the tone, it would go a long way toward keeping the QB in the pocket, and making Colorado’s offense less versatile. That said, who would you rather face at QB?

Establish a Passing Game. Much has been made about the Beavers’ passing woes — and for good reason. It’s hard to move the ball when you’re one-dimensional. So, OSU has yet another chance to get things going. Let’s see if the coaches have made adjustments, whether it’s with personnel or play-calling. Darell Garretson needs to throw for 200+ yards and average more than five yards per completion. There needs to be at least three plays that go for more than 20 yards.

Continue Strong Secondary Play. The Buffaloes feature a strong trio of receivers in Devin Ross, Shay Fields, and Bryce Bobo. But if the OSU secondary can limit at least two of those three, it bodes well for the Beavers’ chances of an upset. Colorado likes to mix things up offensively, so throwing a wrench in their scheme could derail the Buffaloes, or at the very least, slow them down. Of course, it will help tremendously if the front seven can generate more consistent pressure than it has so far.

Be Creative.  It’s shaping up like this could be another challenging season, so why hold back, especially on offense? Like Colorado, the Beavers should do a little of this and that, to keep defenders off balance and move the ball. They at least need to take some shots down the field or run more fly sweeps. What’s the worst that could happen? Things can’t get any more stagnant offensively.  A lot of tricky isn’t needed, but a game plan like last year’s Civil War could boost the Beavers!

It’s early in the season, but this game will make or break OSU’s season. If Colorado cruises to an easy win, the damage could be done. However, if things come together like they should on paper for the Beavers, and they can stage the upset, it would demonstrate enough adjustments and improvement to believe that the Beavers — and be that big win this coaching staff, team, and fan base needs.

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