The Oregon Ducks head to Boulder, Colorado, to take on a Buffaloes team that, frankly, has been a disaster this season.
Karl Dorrell was canned after an 0-5 start, and while the situation has been better under Mike Sanford, who led Colorado to its win over Cal and a close loss to Arizona State, this program still has a long way to go to get back to relevancy.
Dan Lanning’s Ducks have been rolling of late, even after a so-so performance against Cal in Berkley. They shouldn’t have too tough a time defeating the Buffs on Saturday afternoon.
Here are three keys to securing a victory for Oregon:
Don’t Get Complacent
Syndication: The Register Guard
Colorado is one of the worst offensive and defensive CFP teams in the entire country. Whether Oregon chooses to attack on the ground, go through the air, blitz more, blitz less, whatever it may be – it is the more talented team and should come out of Boulder with a victory.
However, that doesn’t mean it should let off the gas. A berth in the College Football Playoffs is on the line. While the difference between a 25-point and 40-point victory is probably not that significant, a 10ish point win would raise eyebrows.
This is a great opportunity for the Ducks to put some points on the board early (something they have struggled with) and coast, keeping some of their stars fresh for the rest of the season while putting together another excellent performance on both sides of the football.
Avoid Mental Mistakes
Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Again, this Colorado team isn’t super dangerous on either end of the ball. If Oregon finds itself in a close game, it is very likely because it let Colorado hang around due to mental mistakes.
No need to force passes into double-coverage. No need to run loose with the football. No need to gamble on an interception without help on the back end.
Oregon has gotten better at avoiding these kind of mistakes as the season has gone on, and Colorado probably will not test them too much, but in a game like this it makes very little sense to put yourself in a position to make mistakes like these.
Play the Young Gun(s)
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
This may not fall under a key to victory necessarily, but it would be a huge boost to the Ducks if they could put this one away early and rest some of their workhorses down the stretch.
Getting Ty Thompson reps, while resting Bo Nix, would be a massive win out of this game. Nix has been a huge part of Oregon’s success this season, and any opportunity to let him rest and avoid potential injury is significant.
Elsewhere, getting rest for some of the starters on the offensive and defensive line would be excellent, while also allowing some younger guys to get much needed reps.
While these moves may not help Oregon in the win column on Saturday, they will help this team down the stretch in a potentially significant way.