Every Friday through the end of the seasons we will be breaking down all of the local football games of the week and highlighting a few of the other games of note for the weekend. We won't be predicting the outcomes here, we will leave that for all of you in the comment section.
Colorado Buffaloes @ California Golden Bears - Berkeley, CA - 1:30 Fox Sports
The Buffs head to California to take on the Cal Bears in a crucial game that should tell us a lot about this year's Buffaloes team. Colorado has struggled tremendously on the road under head coach Dan Hawkins, last winning a road game in November of 2007. On top of that, Cal has been extremely tough to beat at home, especially in out of conference games, in the Jeff Tedford era.
The Ralphie Report's David Gerhardt thinks the Buffs can pull this off:
I might be crazy, but I'm predicting that CU will beat Cal. I know we have been miserable on the road and I know Cal has been good at home, but I think this is the game that we turn our road problems around. My friend Husam noted that even though both teams won last week, we might have more momentum coming in having beaten a rival away from home while Cal played a team they had no extra feelings for comfortably at home. Having a bunch of fans there (They believe there will be more than 7,000 Buffs there) will help. I think our Defense will have gained some confidence after limiting CSU's running game, and I think Cal's Offensive Line didn't play as well as they were expecting last week. I also like the fact that we tackled well in the open field, especially because Cal likes to get the ball to its Skill Players out in space.
Brigham Young University Cougars @ Air Force Falcons - Colorado Springs, CO - 2:00 Versus
Air Force -1
The Mountain West season starts early this year for these two conference (for now at least) rivals. Both teams enter the contest at 1-0, with BYU coming off of an impressive 23-17 victory over the Washington Huskies in Provo, their sixth straight victory going back to last season. Air Force has an solid 65-21 win over FCS school, Nicholls State, but are coming into this game a bit banged up, especially in the secondary.
BYU will continue to rotate two different quarterbacks, a practice that usually spells doom for a football team, but worked well enough for a win last week:
BYU has upper classmen Riley Nelson who is more of a mobile quarterback where as Jake Heaps is a more polished passer and was the top quarterback recruit in the country last year. The two posted nearly identical stats with the exception of Nelson tossing two touchdown passes to Heaps zero. The two alternating series for series and it worked well for week one, but how long can it last before one gets frustrated because they had a great drive, or if teammates start favoring one quarterback over another which could result in a split locker room.
Colorado State Rams @ Nevada Wolf Pack - Reno, NV - 8:30 ESPNU
Colorado State +23.5
Look closely at the 2009 season and you will see that Colorado State's 35-20 victory over Nevada was one of the year's most shocking results. The Rams went on to lose nine straight games to finish the season 3-9 and the Wolf Pack rebounded to finish the regular season 8-4. This year, CSU and head coach Steve Fairchild are headed to Reno as large underdogs in their quest to break a ten game losing streak. For the Rams to have any chance in this one, they will have to do a much better job of running the ball in order to give true freshman quarterback Pete Thomas some time to run the offense:
Quarterback Pete Thomas tried to get CSU moving in the right direction, but while he was able to convert 24-of-33 passes for 196 yards, the youngster was also sacked three times and served up three interceptions to Colorado. Because of the sacks, CSU was credited with a mere 49 yards rushing on 25 attempts, and 20 of those yards came on a single carry by running back Tony Drake who remains at the bottom of the depth chart at his position. It will be the job of Thomas to put the offense on his back until they get accustomed to handling the pressure themselves, but because he too is green there is going to be some major growing pains with an offense that ranked seventh in the Mountain West Conference and 97th in the nation last season in scoring with an average of 21.7 ppg.
Other Games Of Note:
#22 Georgia @ #24 South Carolina - Columbia, SC - 10:00 ESPN2
#17 Florida State @ #10 Oklahoma - Norman, OK - 1:30 ABC
Michigan @ Notre Dame - South Bend, IN - 1:30 NBC
#12 Miami @ #2 Ohio State - Columbus, OH - 1:40 ESPN
#18 Penn State @ #1 Alabama - Tuscaloosa, AL - 5:00 ESPN
Denver Broncos @ Jacksonville Jaguars - Jacksonville, FL - 11:00 CBS
It's certainly not Tim Tebow time yet for the Broncos, but that won't stop thousands of Tebow fans from filing in the gates of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite Florida quarterback. Kyle Orton leads the Broncos after a strong preseason that saw him lead the NFL in third down passing (13-16, 127 yards, 2 TD's) and carry the Broncos to six touchdowns and one field goal in fourteen drives.
The Broncos are hoping that running back Knowshon Moreno will be able to go full speed on Sunday after practicing with full participation on Wednesday and Thursday. If Moreno is unable able to go, the Broncos will be forced to rely heavily on backs Correll Buckhalter and Lance Ball.
Mile High Report is worried about the how the run defense will hold up against one of the stronger running games in the NFL:
This is still very much a question in my mind after finishing 2009 as one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL. Then we got run over in the preseason and I'm left scratching my head. Sure, much of the damage was due to poor tackling and lack of gap discipline from our second and third stringers but the big gains allowed against the Bengals, especially, keep me up at night wondering if we can put the pieces together when the real games start. We'll find out in a few days, won't we?
Other Games Of Note:
Atlanta Falcons @ Pittsburgh Steelers - Pittsburgh, PA - 11:00 FOX
Cincinnati Bengals @ New England Patriots - Foxboro, MA - 11:00 NFL Sunday Ticket
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins - Landover, MD - 6:20 NBC