The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The Colorado Buffaloes are set to open their final Big 12 Conference season against the undefeated Missouri Tigers in Columbia this weekend.
Colorado, which will make the move to the Pac-10 next year, improved to 3-1 last Saturday with a 29-27 victory over Georgia. The Buffaloes have now posted back-to-back victories since their lone setback to date, a 52-7 beating at the hands of the California Golden Bears. Dan Hawkins is the leader of the Colorado program and has yet to elevate the Buffaloes to a BCS contender.
"We showed some courage, some perseverance, good ambition there," said Hawkins after the Georgia game. "Not everything went perfect, it never does in the game, but I thought they were able to make plays and really answer when we needed."
As for Missouri, it has won all four of its games to date, including three by double figures. The Tigers, who are currently ranked 24th in the nation, have had two weeks to prepare for this weekend's affair, as they were most recently in action on September 25th when they knocked off Miami-Ohio by a 51-13 final.
Missouri owns a 40-31-3 series advantage over Colorado, which includes four consecutive victories over the Buffaloes.
Colorado ranks 11th in the Big 12 in scoring offense, as the team is averaging a lackluster 22.8 ppg. The Buffs are posting 348.2 total ypg, as neither the run nor the pass has proven to be consistently effective. Tyler Hansen is the starting quarterback for Hawkins' team, and he is passing for an average of just 179.0 ypg with the same number of interceptions (5) as touchdowns. Clearly, the team lacks a standout receiver who can consistently get open and make things happen after the catch. As for the ground attack, Rodney Stewart leads the charge with 402 yards and three touchdowns.
Against Georgia, the Buffaloes racked up 235 rushing yards at a clip of five yards per attempt. Stewart gashed the Bulldogs for 149 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, while Hansen had 51 yards and a score on 10 attempts. As a passer, Hansen completed 13-of-20 attempts for 158 yards and one score with one interception.
Colorado is surrendering 23.8 ppg and 336.8 total ypg, decent numbers that can certainly stand some improvement. The Buffs have been extremely tough against the run, yielding a mere 100.8 ypg to rank second in the conference. The pass defense hasn't been quite as strong, however, as eight touchdowns and 236.0 ypg have been allowed. B.J. Beatty has posted 6.5 TFLs to date and is a guy to watch on the Colorado defense.
The Buffaloes surrendered 188 rushing yards to Georgia at a clip of 5.9 yards per attempt, but not a single touchdown was allowed on the ground. Three passing scores were permitted, and the Colorado defense yielded 409 yards overall, but the effort was obviously good enough to win.
Missouri is generating 37.8 ppg and 431.5 total ypg, so the offense has certainly contributed significantly to the hot start. The man at the helm of the offense is quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who has completed 68.2 percent of his passes for 1,039 yards and five touchdowns. T.J. Moe has already made 37 catches for 394 yards and two touchdowns, but make no mistake, the Tigers can run the ball as well. In fact, they have already totaled 12 rushing scores and are averaging 5.0 ypc.
Against Miami-Ohio last time out, Gabbert completed 15-of-21 passes for 187 yards and one touchdown with one interceptions. Moe made seven grabs, and five different players scored a rushing touchdown.
"Everything's comfortable when you get up that many points," said Gabbert. "We played as a group and stayed tight to move the ball down the field. When we play together, we score a lot of points."
Opponents are posting only 14.0 ppg and 320.5 total ypg against the Tigers, who have been solid defensively for the most part. The key to Missouri's defensive success has been the play against the pass, as the club is allowing only 9.3 yards per completion with eight interceptions against only three touchdowns allowed. There have been a stellar total of 13 takeaways notched through four outings.
Missouri held Miami-Ohio to one offensive touchdown and 316 total yards last time out despite the fact that the RedHawks held possession of the ball for nearly 35 minutes.
"We didn't make adjustments we just knew guys were going to have to come in, step up and do our job," said defensive back Carl Gettis, who played well to help overshadow some injuries.