The Deion Sanders-coached Colorado Buffaloes remain one of the nation's most-watched teams despite a 4-4 record. This week should be no different with Colorado at home after a road loss to UCLA, while Oregon State hits the road for the second straight week after a close loss to Arizona. How will both teams rebound?
How much does Shedeur Sanders have left?
After getting sacked seven times last week for the third time this season, Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders is the second-most pressured quarterback in the country with the most sacks taken with 41. Behind Sanders is South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler with 33 sacks taken. Eight more is a total that makes you question just how much more can Sanders take. With four games to go, Sanders is on pace to tie the FBS single-season sacks taken record of 60, set by Pitt’s Tino Sunseri in 2011.
Sanders displays a high level of mental and physical toughness, but without proper protection the Buffaloes can’t be considered to win as big underdogs against higher-caliber opponents. The lack of protection will be on display once again this week against Oregon State, which is tied for 14th for the most sacks nationally. Defensive lineman Joe Golden, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound wall of pressure, will be looking to wreak havoc on Sanders.
Despite the sacks, Sanders still has the third-best passing grade in the country, according to PFF, behind Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. and LSU’s Jayden Daniels. How? Sanders is producing regardless, with the eighth-best completion percentage (70.3%), third-most passing yards (2,636), and fourth-most touchdowns (22).
This week we'll find out if Sanders can maintain production while sustaining the hits.
Oregon State’s offense facing a lighter load
Beavers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei and the offense couldn’t have asked for a better rebound spot. Oregon State faced an Arizona defense last week that doesn’t grade highly but has been on a defensive tear lately. Uiagalelei faced a Wildcats defense that held the three opposing quarterbacks it faced previously to a single combined touchdown and an average of 258 passing yards. Those quarterbacks were Penix Jr., USC’s Caleb Williams and Washington State’s Cam Ward.
So it’s no surprise Uiagalelei was held to a 53% completion rate in a close loss to Arizona. Now he gets the luxury of facing a Colorado defense ranked second-worst in passing yards allowed and 91st in rushing yards allowed.
The Beavers can attack Colorado’s defense from both sides. Uiagalelei is a top-30 graded quarterback with solid ball protection (four interceptions on the season). If not through the air, the Beavers can get it done with the run game with RB Damien Martinez, who's top 20 in yards per carry (6.4) and top 25 in yards after contact.
Martinez and Uiagalelei can push the offense downfield. Oregon State is too balanced of an offense, which can lead us to a 13.5-point road cover. But we’ve seen the Beavers’ defense look suspect on the road, giving up 38 and 40 points to Washington State and Cal, respectively. I expect points to be scored at will, pushing the total over 62. The Beavers get an easier matchup, while Sanders gives it his all once again.