Congratulations to Pete Botsford from Wichita, Kansas, the winner of last week’s Stanford Daily Football Predictions Challenge, presented by Chef Chu’s.
Stanford (4-2, 2-2 Pac-12) vs. Colorado (5-2, 3-1)
Samuel Curry: Stanford 23, Colorado 20
Colorado is a hot team looking to prove to everyone that this is indeed not the team from Boulder they have grown accustomed to seeing. This game is a must-win for the Buffaloes as they can’t really afford to lose any more conference games if they want to separate themselves from the rest of the Pac-12 South and capture a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game. They haven’t shown many weaknesses on either side of the ball, and with veteran quarterback Sefo Liufau starting, their only loss is to No. 3 Michigan, and even that game was fairly close throughout. The Buffs look tough to beat.
But that’s not to say Stanford can’t do it. The Cardinal defense held a Notre Dame offense that was averaging around 37 points per game to just 10 last week, and despite lacking the ability to finish drives, the offense moved the ball effectively. I think if Stanford’s defense continues to show its propensity to get turnovers and score points on Saturday, and its offense moves the ball as well as it did last week, finishing in the red zone this time, then the Cardinal have a good chance to knock off the well-rounded Buffaloes and grab an always crucial conference win.
Ultimately, I have faith that Stanford will bring a lot of intensity on both sides of the ball Saturday. Bryce Love will have a big game filling in for McCaffrey once again, and the Cardinal will finally pull ahead in a thriller with the leg of Conrad Ukropina.
Andrew Mather: Colorado 35, Stanford 13
It’s tempting to think — or at least hope — that Stanford’s ugly win against Notre Dame could become the inflection point of this season, but I’m just not ready to believe that yet. Stanford’s defense did seem to take a step forward in South Bend (even if it was aided a bit by Brian Kelly’s interesting decision to pull his starting quarterback in the third quarter), but it still doesn’t look like the Cardinal have found any of the answers they need to jumpstart themselves on the other side of the ball. Stanford only managed a single touchdown on offense last week, and that was when going against a Notre Dame unit that has looked like a JV squad for parts of this season. That’s not going to get it done against the objectively very good defense of the Buffaloes.
I could see the Cardinal keeping this close if they get a few breaks early and make Colorado start chasing the game. Mike MacIntyre’s boys still aren’t used to grinding out wins, and Stanford might be in good shape if it can keep things competitive into the second half. What I’m worried about, however, is that whatever the score may be, David Shaw’s formula for winning football games always seems to require total victory in the trenches. Unfortunately for him, the Buffaloes are just flat out better on both sides of the line this year. Honestly, I expect them to show it.
Do-Hyoung Park: Colorado 31, Stanford 17
As weird as it might sound, the Buffaloes might be the second-best team in the Pac-12 right now, with dominant offensive and defensive lines paving the way for a very well-rounded offense and a stingy defense that has actually surpassed Washington in terms of yardage allowed per game to rank first in the Pac-12. Meanwhile, Stanford hasn’t surpassed 20 points in a game since playing at UCLA in late September and only mustered 17 against a pretty bad Notre Dame defense in South Bend on Saturday — and they’re still playing without a starting offensive lineman in David Bright, who likely won’t play against Colorado despite coming off two of his best games of the season.
I don’t think Stanford’s defense is going to look like chopped liver by any means in this game, but this is a Colorado offense that moved the ball well against Michigan — and I don’t think Stanford’s defense is quite at Michigan levels right now. Sefo Liufau has a wonderful running back and talented wide receivers to work with, and Stanford just doesn’t have the firepower to keep up right now. I’ve got Bryce Love again rushing for over 100 yards, but it won’t be enough as the Buffs take an early lead and pull away.
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