Scouting the Buffaloes: 5 questions, prediction with a Colorado writer

No. 9 Oregon (7-1, 5-0 Pac-12) travels to Boulder to take on Colorado (1-7, 1-4) on Saturday (12:30 p.m., ESPN) at Folsom Field.

Oregon has won seven of eight meetings in the series since CU joined the Pac-12.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reached out to Colorado beat reporter Brian Howell (@BrianHowell33) of the Boulder Daily Camera to pose five questions and gain insight into the Buffaloes.

1) What is the biggest issue for J.T. Shrout’s accuracy?

Howell: “I think it’s been a combination of things, as is always the case when plays don’t work out. But, first on the list is Shrout’s mechanics. He’s got a really strong arm, but he sometimes doesn’t stick to his fundamentals as a passer. He often makes throws on the run (even when he doesn’t have to) and he’s just simply been off the mark with a lot of throws. Improving Shrout’s accuracy is one of the top priorities for Mike Sanford.”

2) What does Alex Fontenot returning mean to Colorado’s offense?

Howell: “Honestly, I don’t think Fontenot’s return would make a significant impact. Deion Smith is coming off his best game and he’s been running well lately. He’s the starter and likely the leader in carries. What Fontenot’s return does is give CU another talented, experienced option. If there is a significant impact, it’ll come from CU being able to ride both of those guys to control some clock with the run game.”

3) How does CU free up Jordyn Tyson to make the explosive catches he’s had?

Howell: “That’s going to be a challenge against Oregon’s talented corners, but if there’s a weakness for the Ducks, it appears to be the pass defense – at least statistically. Tyson is a legit talent and one of the best pure receivers CU has had in a few years and Shrout has the arm to get him the ball. If Shrout is playing well, I think CU can find Tyson and get some big plays in the passing game.”

4) What will be success for Colorado against Oregon?

Howell: “Clearly, it would be an epic upset for CU to win this game and I just don’t see that happening. But, I also don’t think CU has to win the game to come away feeling OK about its performance. The spread is large (31.5 points) and if the Buffs can cover, that’s a bonus. They’ve been a double-digit underdog in every game and covered just twice. Keeping this to a 28-point game wouldn’t be bad. Also, if the Buffs can top the 20-point mark, which they’ve done only once, that would be big for them.”

5) How do you see it playing out and what’s your score prediction?

Howell: “In my opinion, the scary part about this game for CU is Oregon’s 49-3 loss to Georgia. Oregon is a legit CFP contender, but needs style points because of that season-opening loss and how it happened. Because of that, the Ducks can’t let CU hang around or let the Buffs back into the game (as they did last year in Eugene). So, I see Ducks getting off to a fast start, dominating early and then coasting through the second half. Oregon shouldn’t have any trouble rolling to a 59-20 victory.”

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