Week 13 of the college football season features the biggest mismatch the Pac-12 has to offer, as the Oregon Ducks (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12) host the Colorado Buffaloes (2-8, 0-7 Pac-12) on Saturday, November 22, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene.
The Ducks are second in the College Football Playoffs rankings and leap-frogged undefeated Florida State in the most recent poll. Their jump in the rankings was thanks to dominant performances over good teams in their past two games. Two weeks ago, the Ducks cruised to a 45-16 win over nemesis Stanford. Last weekend, after a rocky start that should have seen them trailing 14-0, the Ducks dominated No. 17 Utah for three quarters en route to a 51-27 win. The 24-point margin of victory more than doubled the 9.5-point spread. The Ducks will now have two weeks to prepare for the Pac-12’s basement-dweller, Colorado.
Against Utah, Heisman front-runner Marcus Mariota put in another sterling performance, throwing for 239 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. The 51-point outburst upped the Ducks’ average to 46 points per game, fourth best in the country. One hesitates to think what that potent offense will do against the Buffs, who surrender over 38 points per game and sit 118th in the nation in scoring defense. (For those of you keeping track at home, that puts them ahead of just seven other teams in the entire FBS.)
Colorado is 2-8 on the year, with wins over Massachusetts and Hawaii and losses to, well, for expediency’s sake, everyone else. Seven of Colorado’s eight losses have come inside the Pac-12. Despite the bagel in their conference win-column, the Buffaloes have been competitive some weeks. They boast two double-overtime losses on their resume (59-56 at Cal and 40-37 versus UCLA) and lost a tight game to Oregon State (36-31). (And yes, when you’re winless in your conference, you “boast” overtime losses.)
Most recently, they hung tough with No. 19 Arizona until the fourth quarter, when they gave up 14 unanswered points to drop a 38-20 decision.
Oregon has dominated the recent head-to-head against Colorado. The Ducks have won the last four games in the series and have averaged 57.3 points over the last three. Since 1996, the Ducks lead the series 4-2, both straight-up and against the spread. Though the odds for this game are not out yet, Oregon should open as big favorites (somewhere in the region of 20 points).
While Colorado has a top-20 passing game (299.3 YPG) and a decent offense overall (29.6 PPG), the task of keeping with Mariota and the Ducks will prove too much. The Ducks will cruise to their tenth win of the year and continued residence in the top four of the CFP rankings.
(Photo credit: Daniel Hartwig (Flickr: DSCN4364) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)