IT's Colorado Game Picks

IT's Bill Frisbie, Michael Pearle and Clendon Ross give you their picks, and the reasoning behind those picks, in Saturday's game between Texas and Colorado.

Frisbie -- RB Cedric Benson was asked this week what the first thing that comes to his mind is when he thinks of Colorado.

"Man, what do you think I think about?" he responded.

Here's a hint: he ain't thinking about John Denver.

I love it when I see fire in Cedric's eyes. And he isn't the only current Longhorn whose fire is fueled by painful memories of that 39-37 loss to Colorado in the 2001 Big 12 Title game that likely cost Texas a shot at the national championship. The memory is especially difficult for Benson, as he was lost for the post-season after suffering a pinched nerve in the second quarter. What compounded the situation, of course, is that he suffered the injury while chasing down Colorado DB Medric Moorer who had just picked off QB Chris Simms third INT.

Mack Brown said the 2001 game is hardly worth mentioning since there are new coaches and new personnel on both sides of the ball. Don't believe him. Benson isn't the only one taking this personally. You know FS Phillip Geiggar wants to dominate the wide open spaces after his running-into-the-kicker penalty late in the fourth quarter kept alive what became CU's game-clinching drive. Plus, Denver-native Bo Scaife should have a big day now that Texas has re-discovered that TEs are eligible receivers.

If defense truly wins football games then Colorado doesn't have a chance. The Texas D is on the upswing while there are fewer than a dozen teams in all of D-I football that are giving up more real estate than the Buffs. In defense of the Buffalo defense, it is young (four sophomores starting in the secondary) and have suffered some nagging injuries (notable, DT Mark McChesney). But the ugly truth is that Colorado is giving up 448.1 ypg (NCAA No. 106) and most of that has been through the air (279.1 ypg, No. 113).

On Thursday, Brown said he would like for Vince Young to start throwing for about 200 ypg, ideally 250. (Friends, you know Brown was cognizant of Colorado's defensive stats when he made that statement. And can Benson run wild through a rush defense that is surrendering 169 ypg (No. 79)? Man, what do you think?

TB Bobby Purify can be explosive but nagging injuries (shoulder sprain in 2004, ankle in 2003) have slowed him more than opposing defenses. It's usually a tell-tell sign when a QB has more INT (7) than TDs (5). It's a bigger indicator when your head coach benches you and tells you not to come back until you're mentally tough enough to do the job. QB Joel Klatt put together three solid quarters of football against Texas A&M (329 yards during the final three frames on 23-of-34 passing) and would have engineered the upset had Purify not fumbled at the Aggie 12 in OT. Klatt is one of those QBs who, when he's good, he's very good. But when he's bad... well, look for DC Greg Robinson's troops to get inside Klatt's head like they did Texas Tech's Sonny Cumbie.

Perhaps the only Buffalo for which you would trade a Longhorn (at his position) is sophomore PK Mason Crosby. His four FG of 50+ yards this season set a new school record and leads the nation. His 60-yard FG against Iowa State on October 16 was the longest in D-I football since 1999. The hell of it is: the kid's from Georgetown, Texas.

Bottom line: the only way a team could fail to move the ball at will against this CU defense is if it were saddled with a mediocre offensive coordinator. Whoops. Should have quit while I was ahead. Texas 45, Colorado 15 (five Crosby FGs)

Pearle -- Mack Brown said it and I'm buying it: this is a dangerous week for Texas.

The Horns came out fighting against Tech last weekend after people doubted them and challenged their manhood. The doubts were legitimate. Texas lost ugly to OU and won ugly against Missouri leading into a game in a nasty environment in Lubbock against a team Texas had not slowed down, much less stopped, in years. But the Horns got way up for that one, executed excellent game plans on both sides of the ball and routed the Raiders.

This week, they visit another arena that has over the years been a snakepit for Texas, to play a team, Colorado, that stole the Horns' dream shot at a national title three seasons ago on a wild night in Irving. But does UT have the mental edge it had going into Lubbock last weekend? Unlikely.

Although the Horns must feel confident after putting together such a dominating performance last weekend, there will be no "Shock the Nation" edge to their preparation this week. They're back to being the team with the bullseye on their backs. As for the loss to the Buffs in the 2001 Big 12 championship, well, that thing occurred so far back that it is hard to imagine the Texas players feeling much of a revenge motive going into Saturday.

This Buff team does not appear to be the equal of that 2001 group that won the Big 12 title, but they proved against the Aggies last weekend that they can get after it, especially with their power offense. And that is what worries me the most this week.

Brown's statement that CU runs schemes that are similar to Oklahoma's and that they'll run the power play that hurt Texas so much against Oklahoma should have warning sirens going off in your head.

The Horns did a great job defensively stopping Texas Tech last weekend, in figuring out how to rattle the Tech receivers with bone-jarring hits and to get pressure on Sonny Cumbie. As for stopping the run, they basically didn't have to. But the Buffs will go right at Texas, just like the Sooners did, and unless the Horns have improved their ability to get outside containment, CU could well control much of the ball and the clock in this one, keeping the game close and making it a four-quarter contest.

But there's a couple of things that make me feel good about this one. First, the Horns beat the Buffs the last trip up to Boulder, so they know it can be done and that the staff will get them prepared to perform in the high altitude. Next, as usual with Mack Brown's Texas team, this one appears to be getting better each week. After losing to OU close, they beat a good Missouri team despite appearing to sleepwalk through much of the game. Then, they put it all together last Saturday to blow out the Raiders by a margin virtually no one could have predicted. In short, the Horns are maturing into a really good, tough football team.

So despite what I see as a possibility that the Horns hit Boulder less pumped than they were against the Red Raiders, I still like them in this one. Texas has too much firepower offensively for the Buffs, and I think Greg Robinson will have his guys in position to slow CU down enough that Texas winds up winning a physical slugfest. Texas 31, Colorado 20.

Ross -- I guess the only question I have after last week's surprising, inspiring, dominating offensive performance is, has Greg Davis' unit turned a corner this season, where similar performances will be the norm rather than the exception over this season's home stretch? Has the lightbulb finally flipped on with the OC that using all your weapons each game is allowed, and even conducive to winning? I'm hesitant to say yes simply because we've been teased before only to see the O revert to it's old, wasteful ways.

This week, though, the Horns have the benefit of facing one of the worst defenses in the country, statistically speaking. I think even a relatively one-dimensional Texas team could move the ball and score against Colorado. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that we'll see more of what we saw last week in Lubbock: a varied offense with a heavy does of Vince Young and Cedric Benson (and Will Matthews, occasionally!) running a wide variety of plays out of a wide variety of formations, with the passing game tailored to VY's strengths (deep posts and slants and a whole lot to the tight ends).

On defense, the Horns will be challenged by Colorado's physical offense. Although Greg Robinson's bunch figured out a way to slow Texas Tech by confusing QB Sonny Cumbie with a multitude of looks, the task this week will be a more traditional one, more similar to the one Texas faced in Fayetteville, Dallas vs. OU and Austin vs. Missouri. In those contests, the UT D gave up far more yardage while the game was on the line than it did in Lubbock. As Mack Brown pointed out, the Buffalo running game with Bobby Purify may emulate the Oklahoma ground game with Adrian Peterson that shredded the Longhorn D. And CU QB Joel Klatt did some shredding himself, throwing for 300-plus vs. the Aggies last weekend in College Station. Look for the balanced Buffs to approach the 400-yard mark, the average that the Horns gave up in the three contests mentioned above, with turnovers being the factor that determines whether Colorado scores a lot or scores a little.

So, perhaps the shootout predicted for last week was simply delayed seven days, waiting to take shape in the Rocky Mountains rather than on the South Plains. Texas 42, Colorado 28.

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